Q&A on Adam and Eve

1. Are we required to believe that Adam and Eve were two real historical persons?

Yes. It is a dogma taught by the Council of Trent that original sin resulted from the personal sin of Adam, and, the teaching implies, Eve, when they fell from grace by offending God.

2. Are we required to believe that all human persons who have ever lived and will ever live are their descendants?

Yes. The same Council taught that all human persons, other than Jesus and Mary, have original sin because they are descendants of Adam and Eve. There are no exceptions. Adam and Eve were not two among many human persons. They are not merely the progenitors of everyone alive today, but of “the whole human race”, including Jesus, in his human nature, and Mary.

3. Did animals and plants living before the fall of Adam and Eve die? How can this be, when death entered the world through the sin of Adam?

Science proves that death was part of the earth from the very beginning. So death for the plants and lower animals did not begin with the fall of Adam. My opinion is that, because of the fall of some of the angels, eons ago, not long after the time of the creation of the universe, God decided that the material universe would be in a fallen state. For the angels have always had a role in helping God to govern His Creation. That is why death was found in the earth from the beginning of life on earth.

Then, when Adam and Eve fell from grace, death entered the world, in the sense of the whole human race.

4. How can this be, when science teaches that the human race resulted from evolution, through hominids, and before them, other lower animals?

In my opinion, God guided evolution to create the human body, in the form of the anatomically-modern humans (AMH), which had bodies like ours today, but without the ability to reason abstractly. Evolution was unable to evolve free will, the ability to reason abstractly, or an immortal soul.

God then created Adam and Eve, miraculously, but patterned after the AMH. When the human race was created, with Adam and Eve, they were in an unfallen state, so they were placed by God in an unfallen place, the Garden of Eden. Then, when they fell from grace, they were place on this fallen earth. Adam and Eve were the first behaviorally-modern humans (BMH). From them descended the whole human race.

5. Where is the Garden of Eden?

It is a discontinuous place, like Purgatory or the Limbo of the Fathers. It is not in this universe, but it is kept separate by God. The Garden of Eden was never a place on earth.

6. How could Adam and Eve and the other persons described as their recent descendants have lived such long lives, hundreds of years, as the Bible states?

In my opinion, the lengths of their lifetimes is figurative, not literal. They lived a normal lifespan.

7. How could Adam and Eve have existed only 5,000 or so years before the present, when science tells us that the human race (BMH) has existed for between 50 and 80 thousand years?

Since the lifespans of persons in Genesis chapters 1 – 11 are figurative, we cannot place Adam and Eve any particular number of years in the past. Science tells us that the BMH began about 50 to 80 thousand years ago, so that would be the time when Adam and Eve were placed on this earth.

If you have other questions on this subject, post them in a comment below.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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5 Responses to Q&A on Adam and Eve

  1. Mark P. says:

    It is a very prevalent Catholic error these days to consider Adam and Eve merely fictional characters in a salvation narrative, or to consider that they were merely pre-human “hominins” that God infused with souls. While one can stretch Humani Generis to validate this position, HG itself more strongly supports the traditional belief in direct creation of Adam from the dust of the earth and Eve from his side.
    My personal belief is that the direct creation of Adam and Eve, body and soul, as adults (with Eve from the side of Adam) should be taught as an infallible dogma, like the Assumption. Especially in this day and age with much confusion, trying to separate the body from gender, blending male and female roles, etc., it is imperative to teach this truth. The notion of “soul infusion,” for lack of a better term, leads people into thinking the body and soul are different, or that one can their soul trapped in the body of the wrong sex. The miracles of God are immediate, yet there is a great reluctance to grand God the miracle of directly and immediately creating our first parents.

  2. Christine says:

    Why are we as Catholics not allowed to use the concept and word ‘dimension’ ?

    It would make a lot of sense, if we said, that Heaven is in another dimension and is very near to us.
    It is real. It is corporeal. Jesus is there with His Human and Divine Nature and Mother Mary is also there in Body and Soul, so is Enoch, Elijah,etc.
    This would explain then,the sky splitting open and Stephen seeing a vision and also the sky opening up at Jesus’ Baptism.
    If the physical Heaven is in another dimension, also in that dimension is Purgatory. ( Some testimonies reveal that in the highest Level of Purgatory, people see soil, flowers etc.)
    Souls in spirit bodies can absolutely interact with a physical environment.

    Hell may be very close to this earth. It is not a physical domain but a specific, secluded state holding these defiant, evil souls captive in their misery.

    It would also make a lot of sense that before God created the Universe, He lived in a dimension unknown to us.
    It would explain that the Garden of Eden was in another dimension.
    Adam and Eve are real people. The Garden of Eden was their testing ground.
    As they failed their test in obedience, they then were cast out and placed on this earth. ( your thoughts)
    Re: Genesis. The truths that are there are eternal. I see a necessity of an Extension Chapter being written explaining these truths.
    Re: Council of Trent. Why must we think this Council is free of errors?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Every Ecumenical Council (21 of them) was capable of exercising the infallible teaching authority. Not all chose to do so. Trent was a lengthy Council which exercised infallibility on many matters, in reaction to the errors of Protestantism.

      Your idea about dimensions is not correct. God alone has always existed, not God and dimensions. All that exists was created by God. Heaven is not a different dimension, it is life with God. Places like heaven, hell, purgatory, the garden of eden are created by God, and they are not continuous with this universe. But the difference occurs by the power of God, not by some natural difference in dimensions.

  3. Christine says:

    You said, referring to the Garden of Eden, ” It is a discontinuous place, like Purgatory or the Limbo of the Fathers. It is not in this universe, but it is kept separate by God. The Garden of Eden was never a place on earth”.
    How do we understand this, if it is not in this universe?

    Also, I never meant to imply that Heaven is a “different dimension”. By dimension, I was referring to specific place and of course everything is created by God.
    Ron, in all sincerity, what drives people “crazy” is the thought that Heaven is a mere ‘state of being’. Actually it causes faith to decline.
    Thanks for your patience.

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