Adam and Eve and Science

Is it scientific to say that Adam and Eve were the first humans?

Yes. In fact, the origin of all species is best explained in molecular biology as an original male and female. Therefore, Adam and Eve are perfectly respectable scientifically.

Prove it.

A believer has no sound reason to doubt Adam and Eve so the burden of proof is on the skeptic to show that Adam and Eve were not real. No-one has ever disproved Adam and Eve. All the current study of the human genome, all the current knowledge of genetics in no way contradicts the teaching that we are derived from one first pair of humans. Professor Jerome Lejeune, discoverer of, and researcher into, the extra chromosome in Downe's Syndrome children, declared that, because the normal 46 chromosomes are so complex in their tightly packed spirals and so detailed in containing all the genetic information to constitute a unique human being, the best scientific explanation of mankind is that it descended from a single male and female of the human species.

But the Bible says that Adam and Eve only had boys.

Not true. Genesis 5, verse 4 says that they had other children: 'sons and daughters'.

But that would mean incest between the first generations of humans.

Since Adam and Eve were created in a state of high perfection, with the full complement of genetic material, this would have allowed substantial variety to arise quickly among human beings, who were free from inherited defects because of a pure gene pool. [NB God originally created Adam and Eve immortal.] Thus it would have taken a long time for the gene pool within mankind to become contaminated enough to prohibit intermarriage between close relatives. Although incest was later forbidden by God at the time of Moses (Leviticus 18), procreation must have occurred between the earliest human beings in order to generate the human race. Marriage between close relations at that early stage of human history was, therefore, not regarded by God as sinful. Today, however, incest is a serious sin with the Church forbidding marriage of cousins.

If Adam and Eve were real, what colour was their skin?

No-one can say for sure, however, a common theory amongst creationist scientists is that Adam had a middle-brown skin colour. All humans have basically the same skin colour (all of us have the same colour of palms and the same colour of skin on the soles of our feet). We all have a pigment called melanin. All races have about the same amount of pigment producing cells per square inch of skin; whether we're black, brown or white, we all produce pigment granules, we all produce melanin. It's the relative abundance of melanin that is produced and its distribution in the skin that accounts for differences in skin-colour. If we have a lot of this pigment we are very dark (black skin). If we don't have much of this pigment we are fair (white skin). The majority of humans on Earth have a brown skin colour. There is nothing in science to rule out the possibility that all humans have been derived from a single first pair of individuals whose skin colour would have been brown. They would have had in their genes the potential to produce all the colour varieties that we see in the human race today.

Is this possible genetically?

Yes. From two people having the right mix of dominant and recessive genes for the amount of melanin, all shades of colour in humans could arise. Thus, if Adam and Eve were both a middle-brown colour, all shades from 'black' through to 'white' could be accounted for in their children and future generations. For the same reason, Adam and Eve probably had brown eyes and dark hair. Similarly, if Adam had blood group 'A', and Eve had blood group 'B', all of the 'ABO' blood groups (A, AB, B, O) could arise.

Explain how this is possible genetically?

If you had a population which was lighter and darker, and somewhere in between, and then you split up the people so that the light-skinned people, or the dark-skinned people, only married each other you would end up with racial groups of different colours. The fact that human beings possess the potential to be any colour shows best in white skinned people who have light skin but carry the colour of every race in their hair (whites can naturally be red-headed or blonde or brunette etc).

What about the difference in eye shape between the human races?

The eyelid has a layer of fatty tissue that helps to protect and insulate the eye. White-skinned people have a thin layer of fat so the edge of the bony eye socket stands out. In oriental people the layer of fat is thicker and obscures the edge of the bony socket. The eye-shapes of different races are caused only by variations in the amount of fat in the upper-eyelid, therefore, all the differing eye shapes in humans could have been derived from one first pair of humans.

Could all the racial features of mankind come from one first pair of humans?

Yes, there is nothing in science to say that the first pair of human beings did not possess all the potential genetic characteristics of all the races of humans today (Asian, Caucasian etc).

Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?

The answer to this question depends on whether or not you believe in evolution. Evolutionists who believe in Adam and Eve would probably say yes because they believe that Adam and Eve were born of an ape. Catholics are allowed to debate the question of evolution (provided it is not held as a certain fact since neither science has proven it nor has the Church ever taught it). The argument for Adam not having a belly button rejects the notion that Adam was born; it stipulates that he was made directly by God from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7). If Adam was not born from a womb, he would not have had an umbilical cord, and thus no navel, since the belly button (navel) marks the site of attachment of the umbilical cord. Eve, however, was not born from a womb, she was made from a portion of Adam's side (Gen 2:22), so Eve had no navel.

How could Eve have been made from a portion of Adam's side?

A recent concept (that is consistent with the Church's teaching down the years that the body of Eve was definitely derived somehow from the body of Adam) is that God could have taken a small portion of tissue / cell from the side of the sleeping Adam, removed his Y chromosome and duplicated the X chromosome so that the cell was now female (XX), and then caused rapid growth to produce the body of a perfect woman who was genetically compatible with Adam. It is as easy for God to make Eve from Adam as it is for God to make the world from nothing. It is a revealed doctrine of the Church that Eve was made from Adam (Acts 17:26; 1 Cor 11:8). This teaching has always been believed by the Church. It was affirmed by the Ordinary Magisterium in 1880 (Pope Leo XIII Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae: 'We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God … gave Adam a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep'); and re-affirmed by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1909; and by Pius XII to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (30 Nov 1941).

So, are we historically, biologically and theologically one family?

Yes, we are. It is because of our common descent from Adam that we now have "kinship by blood" (a molecular biologist would say kinship by chromosomes) with all other human beings now on Earth. Racist ideologies and atheistic theories usually reject our solidarity with Adam and embrace polygenism (the dubious notion that the human race is derived from many first pairs of humans instead of the one first pair, Adam and Eve). Polygenism ultimately means that not everyone needs to be redeemed by Christ since it suggests that not all people are descended from the one pair who committed the Original Sin of which we are born. But we all need to be saved by Jesus from the Original Sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Pope Pius XII (Humani Generis 1950) emphasised that 'it is in no way apparent how' polygenism can be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin. Eve is the mother of all the living (Gen 3:20), not some.

But many modern-day Catholic theologians reject Adam and Eve as being real.

True. But 1,000 theologians do not equal one Pope. Fr Raymond Brown (RIP) could easily be described as a 'modern' theologian. He made the following points in his book 101 QUESTIONS ON THE BIBLE (p. 35): 'Whereas in the 1950s most scientists would have favoured polygenism, genetic discoveries seem now to favour that all human beings are descended from one set of parents.' To say that ' "There were no Adam and Eve" is a destructive and inaccurate statement.'

Keane, G Creation Rediscovered Tan Books; McKay, J Real Roots video from; Ham, K; Tierney, J Children's Family Catechism Newman Catechist Centre.

* Please note that this text should be read in the context of the whole work and in recognition of the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlighted in the index.