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This universal evolutionary perspective leads many Catholics and others to conclude that a literal Adam and Eve is “scientifically impossible” for two reasons: First, paleoanthropologists deny the sudden appearance of intelligent, self-reflective, fully-human primates, but rather view the emergence of consciousness and intelligence as taking place slowly and incrementally over long periods of time.Second, in light of recent findings in molecular biology, especially from studies based on genetic data gleaned from the Human Genome Project, it is claimed that the hominin population (the primate group from which modern man is said to have arisen) has never had a bottleneck (reduced population) of a single mating pair in the last seven or more million years: no literal Adam and Eve.
While these qualitatively superior abilities are manifested through special forms of tool making or culture or art, they need not always be evident in the paleontological record.
Many succumb to the modernist tendency to “adjust” Church teaching to fit the latest scientific claims—thus intimidating Catholics into thinking that divinely revealed truths can be abandoned—“if need be.” This skepticism of a literal Adam and Eve begs for four much needed corrections.
First, Church teaching about Adam and Eve has not, and cannot, change. “Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back toward God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle” ( did not definitively exclude theological polygenism.
Such calculations rely upon many assumptions about mutation rate, recombination rate, and other factors, that are known to vary widely.
All of this entails retrospective calculations about events in the far distant past, for which we have no directly verifiable data.