Against Polygenism

By: Dr. Kevin Mark

“Would that We had not learned by experience how many ‘false apostles’ the present age has spawned! These are ‘deceitful workmen who transform themselves into apostles of Christ.’ Unless we are on our guard ‘they will destroy the understanding of the faithful as the serpent seduced Eve by his cleverness, and they will fall away from their simplicity which is in Christ’” (Diu Satis, On a Return to Gospel Principles, Pope Pius VII - 1800).

In a recent interview apologist Jimmy Akin defends polygenism as a permissible doctrine for Catholics.  Polygenism is the concept that mankind did not descend from only two original people, Adam and Eve, but from a larger group. Evolutionists generally suggest that humanity descended from at least 10,000 individuals. Of course, the doctrine of polygenism goes completely against the doctrine of monogenism, which teaches that all of mankind are descended from Adam and Eve. Monogenism has always been the teaching of the Catholic Church.

St. Pius X

In reality, the only way that one could abandon monogenism and embrace polygenism is if one throws Catholicity itself out the window. If we abandon the principle of St. Vincent of Lerins, that we must believe those Catholic doctrines which have “been believed everywhere, always, by all,” then we are free to allow Catholic doctrine to evolve into that which it never was, or even into the exact opposite of what it once was. This is what we are dealing with when one argues that a Catholic can switch from believing monogenism to polygenism. This is modernism, the synthesis of all heresies, a system of belief, or rather, disbelief, which Pope St. Pius X outlines in Pascendi Dominici Gregis, “On the Doctrine of the Modernists” (1907). He clarifies the modernist mentality:

Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and as clearly flows from their principles.... Blind that they are, and leaders of the blind, inflated with a boastful science, they have reached that pitch of folly where they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true nature of the religious sentiment; with that new system of theirs they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty, thinking not at all of finding some solid foundation of truth, but despising the holy and apostolic traditions, they embrace other vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, condemned by the Church, on which, in the height of their vanity, they think they can rest and maintain truth itself. [...] 26. To finish with this whole question of faith and its shoots, it remains to be seen, Venerable Brethren, what the Modernists have to say about their development. First of all they lay down the general principle that in a living religion everything is subject to change, and must change, and in this way they pass to what may be said to be, among the chief of their doctrines, that of Evolution. To the laws of evolution everything is subject - dogma, Church, worship, the Books we revere as sacred, even faith itself, and the penalty of disobedience is death.

Now to be charitable, I am not suggesting that Jimmy Akin is intentionally promoting modernism.  I suspect that Jimmy Akin believes he is acting in accordance with modern Catholic principles and he would bristle at being compared to a modernist. It is hard to deny, however, that Jimmy Akin is an evolutionist and essentially believes that the Catholic faith and its doctrines should evolve with time. The following table compares the sentiments of Jimmy Akin with the Syllabus of Pope St. Pius X condemning the errors of the modernists in 1907:

Views of Jimmy Akin Syllabus of Pope St. Pius X Condemning the Errors of the Modernists,

Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition

The following are condemned as errors:

The Church has no ability to pass judgment on the assertions of natural scientists because these are matters of science and are thus outside the bounds of faith and morals. 5. Since the deposit of Faith contains only revealed truths, the Church has no right to pass judgment on the assertions of the human sciences.
The rulings of the Pontifical Bible Commission under the command of Pope St. Pius X have no authority. 8. They are free from all blame who treat lightly the condemnations passed by the Sacred Congregation of the Index or by the Roman Congregations.
Vatican II teaches us that Sacred Scripture is only free from error in that which it asserts, not that which it assumes. 11. Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.
While it was once the case that polygenism was condemned, now it is an acceptable doctrine for a Catholic to hold because the progress in the sciences has been recognized by modern popes and these modern popes have not condemned polygenism since 1950. 64. Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be re-adjusted.

Sacred Scripture on Monogenism

Let us begin making our case for monogenism and against polygenism with the Scriptural record. Firstly, Genesis is clear that in the beginning God created one man and one woman, from whom all people descended. This is not only clear in Genesis chapters 1-3 but also in Genesis 4 and 5, especially 5, where we have recorded detailed genealogical records beginning with Adam. When we combine this with Genesis 3:20 and realize that Eve was “the mother of all living,” we are confirmed in the Catholic belief that all humans came from Adam and Eve. Pertinently, the genealogy in Genesis 5 going back to Adam is confirmed not only by St. Luke’s inerrant genealogy in Luke chapter 3, but also a genealogy in 1 Chronicles 1 that goes back to Adam as the father of us all. The reliability of at least the first seven generations of these chronologies is confirmed by Jude, chapter 1 verse 14 (RSVCE):

It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads . . .”

Not that we need further confirmation of the reliability of Holy Scripture, which we know to be inerrant and infallible.

The Prophet Enoch


Note how utterly incompatible Jimmy Akin’s weak view of Biblical inerrancy is compared to that of Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Providentissimus Deus:

For the Sacred Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains things of the deepest importance...” For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last: ‘The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author.’ [...] [On the human authors:] “[F]or, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write-He was so present to them-that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. ‘Therefore,’ says St. Augustine, ‘since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed what their Head dictated.’ And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: ‘Most superfluous it is to inquire who wrote these things-we loyally believe the Holy Ghost to be the Author of the book. He wrote it Who dictated it for writing; He wrote it Who inspired its execution.’” It is hard to imagine Holy Scripture being clearer that Adam was the progenitor of the entire human race, with Eve being created from him, and all subsequent humans ultimately descended from their union. Tobit 8:6 (RSVCE) states (emphasis mine): Thou madest Adam and gavest him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung. Thou didst say, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’ Our Lord Jesus confirms this, and with it, the Genesis account, when he said, But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female (Mark 10:6, but see also Matthew 18:4). Acts 17:26 (DR) states (emphasis mine): And [God] hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation.

Wisdom 10 (RSVCE) again confirms Genesis, declaring Adam “the first-formed father of the world,” and confirming that he was created first, before any other human. Note that it goes on to confirm other details of Genesis:

Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world, when he alone had been created; she delivered him from his transgression, and gave him strength to rule all things. But when an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger, he perished because in rage he slew his brother. When the earth was flooded because of him, wisdom again saved it, steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood.

Sirach 33:10b (DR) states unequivocally that Adam was created “out of the earth” and that, since all men are descend from Adam, we too can be called “from the ground” and “out of the earth”: And all men are from the ground, and out of the earth, from whence Adam was created. In addition, scripture refers to humanity as “the children of Adam” as can be seen in Sirach 40:1. The New Testament establishes the doctrine that Original Sin came from Adam, the first man, and that all of humanity inherited this original sin through our direct link to him. As can be seen in this essay, the doctrine of original sin and monogenism are linked at the hip. One cannot separate the two without killing both of them.

Romans chapter 5:12-21 reveals how Jesus Christ’s act of perfect righteousness released the grace and righteousness which frees us from that original sin of Adam which infected all men:

Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned — sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 42-50 also clarifies the doctrine of original sin from Adam and is obviously in complete accord with everything we know of the Traditional doctrine of Creation:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. [...] So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Magisterial Teaching on Monogenism

The ordinary magisterium unequivocally teaches monogenism. Pope Leo XIII condemns as “revilers of the Christian faith” those who “refuse to acknowledge the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church on” the subject of the marriage of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and that it was the “natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preservatives by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time”:

The true origin of marriage, venerable brothers, is well known to all. Though revilers of the Christian faith refuse to acknowledge the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church on this subject, and have long striven to destroy the testimony of all nations and of all times, they have nevertheless failed not only to quench the powerful light of truth, but even to lessen it. We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time (Arcanum Divinae, Pope Leo XIII, 1880).

Jimmy Akin argues that Pope Pius XII did not close the door on Polygenism but that he merely used “regulatory” language and that the progress of the sciences and later non-authoritative statements by Popes can be interpreted as now rendering it acceptable to embrace a doctrine which once had to be rejected due to its declared incompatibility with the Catholic faith. Before we look at Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis, let us look at Pope Pius XII’s Summi Pontificatus, “On the Unity of Human Society” (1939) to see how compatible polygenism is with “the unity of human society.” As one can clearly see, the following document boldly upholds monogenism as the very reason for the “unity of all mankind,” the very reason we are “His children,” the very reason we have “one common origin in God,” the very reason for our equality with one another, the very reason Christ was able to restore our friendship with God, because Christ took back what Adam, our common father, gave up. Pope Pius XII even calls these, including monogenism, “supernatural truths”:

  1. Among the many errors which derive from the poisoned source of religious and moral agnosticism, We would draw your attention, Venerable Brethren, to two in particular, as being those which more than others render almost impossible or at least precarious and uncertain, the peaceful intercourse of peoples.
  2. The first of these pernicious errors, widespread today, is the forgetfulness of that law of human solidarity and charity which is dictated and imposed by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men, to whatever people they belong, and by the redeeming Sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ on the Altar of the Cross to His Heavenly Father on behalf of sinful mankind.
  3. In fact, the first page of the Scripture, with magnificent simplicity, tells us how God, as a culmination to His creative work, made man to His Own image and likeness (cf. Genesis i. 26, 27); and the same Scripture tells us that He enriched man with supernatural gifts and privileges, and destined him to an eternal and ineffable happiness. It shows us besides how other men took their origin from the first couple, and then goes on, in unsurpassed vividness of language, to recount their division into different groups and their dispersion to various parts of the world. Even when they abandoned their Creator, God did not cease to regard them as His children, who, according to His merciful plan, should one day be reunited once more in His friendship (cf. Genesis xii. 3).
  4. The Apostle of the Gentiles later on makes himself the herald of this truth which associates men as brothers in one great family, when he proclaims to the Greek world that God “hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation, that they should seek God” (Acts xvii. 26, 27).
  5. A marvelous vision, which makes us see the human race in the unity of one common origin in God “one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all” (Ephesians iv. 6); in the unity of nature which in every man is equally composed of material body and spiritual, immortal soul; in the unity of the immediate end and mission in the world; in the unity of dwelling place, the earth, of whose resources all men can by natural right avail themselves, to sustain and develop life; in the unity of the supernatural end, God Himself, to Whom all should tend; in the unity of means to secure that end.
  6. It is the same Apostle who portrays for us mankind in the unity of its relations with the Son of God, image of the invisible God, in Whom all things have been created: “In Him were all things created” (Colossians i. 16); in the unity of its ransom, effected for all by Christ, Who, through His Holy and most bitter passion, restored the original friendship with God which had been broken, making Himself the Mediator between God and men: “For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy ii. 5).
  7. And to render such friendship between God and mankind more intimate, this same Divine and universal Mediator of salvation and of peace, in the sacred silence of the Supper Room, before He consummated the Supreme Sacrifice, let fall from His divine Lips the words which reverberate mightily down the centuries, inspiring heroic charity in a world devoid of love and torn by hate: “This is my commandment that you love one another, as I have loved you” (Saint John xv. 12).
  8. These are supernatural truths which form a solid basis and the strongest possible bond of a union, that is reinforced by the love of God and of our Divine Redeemer, from Whom all receive salvation “for the edifying of the Body of Christ: until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians iv. 12, 13).
  9. In the light of this unity of all mankind, which exists in law and in fact, individuals do not feel themselves isolated units, like grains of sand, but united by the very force of their nature and by their internal destiny, into an organic, harmonious mutual relationship which varies with the changing of times.
  10. And the nations, despite a difference of development due to diverse conditions of life and of culture, are not destined to break the unity of the human race, but rather to enrich and embellish it by the sharing of their own peculiar gifts and by that reciprocal interchange of goods which can be possible and efficacious only when a mutual love and a lively sense of charity unite all the sons of the same Father and all those redeemed by the same Divine Blood (Summi Pontificatus, “On the Unity of Human Society,” Pope Pius XII, 1939).
Pope Pius XII

While it is difficult to imagine a papal document promoting monogenism more than Summi Pontificatus, “On the Unity of Human Society,” from Pope Pius XII, eleven years later Pope Pius XII manages to do so in Humani Generis (1950) where he makes himself even clearer in his decree forbidding polygenism:

  1. Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me";[3] and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians. [...] 37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.
  1. Just as in the biological and anthropological sciences, so also in the historical sciences there are those who boldly transgress the limits and safeguards established by the Church. In a particular way must be deplored a certain too free interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament. Those who favor this system, in order to defend their cause, wrongly refer to the Letter which was sent not long ago to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Studies. This letter, in fact, clearly points out that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.

There is no doubt that monogenism is a doctrine of the Catholic faith within the “ordinary magisterium.” For a doctrine to be a doctrine, it does not have to be defined in an extraordinary declaration, like for instance the assumption of Mary or the Immaculate Conception; it is enough to show that a teaching “has been believed everywhere, always, by all.” Throughout the ages, an abundance of Popes, in authoritative documents, and even a council’s decree, refer to Adam and Eve as “our first parents” or Adam as “our first parent” or mankind as “the children of Adam” or the “children of Eve.” It is obvious that these Popes are conveying the teaching that we are literally descended from Adam and Eve as the progenitors of the human race—they were not merely using metaphorical language—as will be seen later in the declarations involving the transmission of original sin via propagation, not imitation. As can be seen below, these references often link the reality of our first parent, Adam, or first parents, Adam and Eve, to Christ, the new or last Adam, and often to Mary, the new Eve:

The eternal Father, who will never abandon his flock up to the close of the age, so loved obedience, as the Apostle testifies, that to make expiation for the sin of disobedience of the first parent, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death. -Fifth Lateran Council, Eighteenth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, 1512-1517 A.D. 1. Prompted by their example, and, as is piously believed, by the Holy Ghost, the inspired Blessed founder of the Order of Friars Preachers, (whose institutes and rule we ourselves expressly professed when we were in minor orders), in circumstances similar to those in which we now find ourselves, when parts of France and of Italy were unhappily troubled by the heresy of the Albigenses, which blinded so many of the worldly that they were raging most savagely against the priests of the Lord and the clergy, raised his eyes up unto heaven, unto that mountain of the Glorious Virgin Mary, loving Mother of God. For she by her seed has crushed the head of the twisted serpent, and has alone destroyed all heresies, and by the blessed fruit of her womb has saved a world condemned by the fall of our first parent (Consueverunt Romani, “Call to Prayer,” Pope St. Pius V, 1569).

IN ORDER to free the world, prostrate in darkness and bound by numerous pagan errors, from the power of the devil who held it a wretched prisoner after the fall of our first parent, the heavenly shepherd, Christ our Lord, by his ineffable mercy, condescended to take flesh and, as a living victim, offer himself to God for us on the wood of the cross, nailing the guarantee of our redemption to the wood of the cross as a proof of his love for us (Coelestis Pastor, “Condemning the Errors of Miguel de Molinos,” Pope Innocent XI, 1687).


  1. For, to use the words of St. Augustine, “the Catholic Church attaches itself not only to God Himself but also to love and charity of one’s neighbor, so that it excels in healing all the diseases which men suffer for their sins. It trains and teaches boys in a boyish manner, young men strongly, old men calmly, in accordance with the individual’s bodily and spiritual age. It subjects wives to their husbands in chaste and faithful obedience, not for the gratification of lust but for the begetting of progeny and the society of the family; and it places husbands over their wives not in scorn of the weaker sex but under the law of pure love. It subordinates sons to their parents in a sort of free slavery and puts parents in charge of sons with a loving control. It binds brother to brother with the bond of religion, which is stronger and tighter than the bond of blood. It strengthens in reciprocal love all relationships of birth and marriage by preserving the ties of nature and of oaths. It teaches slaves to remain true to their masters, not as much from the compulsion of their state as from delight in duty, and makes masters kind to their slaves by the thought that the supreme God is their common Lord and more apt to advise than to compel them. By recalling our first parents, it unites citizen with citizen, nation to nation, and all humanity in society and brotherhood. It teaches kings to take care of their people, and people to submit to their kings. It teaches carefully who should have honor, who love, who reverence, who fear, who consolation, who warning, who exhortation, who discipline, who reprimand, who punishment, while showing how all things are not due to all men, but charity is due to all and harm to none.”[32] Nostis Et Nobiscum, “On the Church in the Pontifical States,” Pope BI. Pius IX, 1849.

But the naturalists and Freemasons, having no faith in those things which we have learned by the revelation of God, deny that our first parents sinned, and consequently think that free will is not at all weakened and inclined to evil[13] (Humanum Genus, “On Freemasonry,” Pope Leo XIII, 1884).

  1. We, indeed, to all men are the Vicar of Christ, the Son of God, who so loved the human race that not only did He not refuse, taking our nature to Himself, to live among men, but delighted in bearing the name of the Son of Man, openly proclaiming that He had come upon earth “to preach deliverance to the captives”[1] in order that, rescuing mankind from the worst slavery, which is the slavery of sin, “he might re-establish all things that are in heaven and on earth,”[2] and so bring back all the children of Adam from the depths of the ruin of the common fall to their original dignity. The words of St. Gregory the Great are very applicable here: “Since our Redeemer, the Author of all life, deigned to take human flesh, that by the power of His Godhood the chains by which we were held in bondage being broken, He might restore us to our first state of liberty, it is most fitting that men by the concession of manumission should restore to the freedom in which they were born those whom nature sent free into the world, but who have been condemned to the yoke of slavery by the law of nations.”[3] It is right, therefore, and obviously in keeping with Our apostolic office, that We should favor and advance by every means in Our power whatever helps to secure for men, whether as individuals or as communities, safeguards against the many miseries, which, like the fruits of an evil tree, have sprung from the sin of our first parents; and such safeguards, of whatever kind they may be, help not only to promote civilization and the amenities of life, but lead on to that universal restitution of all things which our Redeemer Jesus Christ contemplated and desired (In Plurimis, “On the Abolition of Slavery,” Pope Leo XIII, 1888).

Yes, we fly to Thee, we miserable children of Eve, O holy Mother of God (Iucunda Semper Expectatione, “On the Rosary,” Pope Leo XIII, 1894, “Mary’s Place in the Incarnation and Redemption”).

  1. God predestined her from all eternity to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word, and for that reason so highly distinguished her among all His most beautiful works in the triple order of nature, grace and glory, that the Church justly applies to her these words: “I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first-born before all creatures” (Ecclus. xxiv., 5). And when, in the first ages, the parents of mankind fell into sin, involving their posterity in the same ruin, she was set up as a pledge of the restoration of peace and salvation (Augustissimae Virginis Mariae, On the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, Pope Leo XIII, 1897).

Pride would not mislead, nor indifference enervate, so many minds, if the Divine mercies were more generally called to mind and if it were remembered from what an abyss Christ delivered mankind and to what a height He raised it. The human race, exiled and disinherited, had for ages been daily hurrying into ruin, involved in the terrible and numberless ills brought about by the sin of our first parents, nor was there any human hope of salvation, when Christ Our Lord came down as the Saviour from Heaven. At the very beginning of the world, God had promised Him as the conqueror of “the Serpent,” hence, succeeding ages had eagerly looked forward to His coming. -Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus, “On Jesus Christ the Redeemer,” Pope Leo XIII, 1900).

How think otherwise? Could not God have given us, in another way than through the Virgin the Redeemer of the human race and the Founder of the Faith? But, since Divine Providence has been pleased that we should have the Man-God through Mary, who conceived Him by the Holy Ghost and bore Him in her breast, it only remains for us to receive Christ from the hands of Mary. Hence whenever the Scriptures speak prophetically of the grace which was to appear among us, the Redeemer of mankind is almost invariably presented to us as united with His mother. The Lamb that is to rule the world will be sent — but He will be sent from the rock of the desert; the flower will blossom, but it will blossom from the root of Jesse. Adam, the father of mankind, looked to Mary crushing the serpent’s head, and he dried the tears that the malediction had brought into his eyes. Noe thought of her when shut up in the ark of safety, and Abraham when prevented from the slaying of his son; Jacob at the sight of the ladder on which angels ascended and descended; Moses amazed at the sight of the bush which burned but was not consumed; David escorting the arc of God with dancing and psalmody; Elias as he looked at the little cloud that rose out of the sea. In fine, after Christ, we find in Mary the end of the law and the fulfillment of the figures and oracles (Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, “On the Immaculate Conception,” Pope St. Pius X, 1904).

The fate of our first parent after the Fall is wont to come also upon nations (Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, “Appealing For Peace,” Pope Benedict XV, 1914).

Meanwhile the Bishop of Hippo found a master and a guide in Holy Writ, especially in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, who also in his time had been miraculously converted to follow Christ. He allied himself with the teaching handed down by holy men, and with the Catholic sense of the Faithful. Day by day he was impelled to attack more vigorously the Pelagians, who stubbornly maintained that the Redemption of man by Christ Jesus was wholly without effect. Finally, by a Divine impulse, he carried over many years his study of the ruin of the human race after the sin of our first parents, of the relation between the grace of God and free will, and of what goes by the name of predestination. So closely did he study the subject and with such happy results, that he was deemed the Doctor of Grace and was so entitled.

  1. Now our Saint teaches that, ever since our first parents sinned, man has lost the perfection with which he was created; for when he possessed it, he was borne easily and smoothly along the path of virtuous conduct (Ad Salutem, “On St. Augustine,” Pope Pius XI, 1930).
  1. Thus amongst the blessings of marriage, the child holds the first place. And indeed the Creator of the human race Himself, Who in His goodness wishes to use men as His helpers in the propagation of life, taught this when, instituting marriage in Paradise, He said to our first parents, and through them to all future spouses: “Increase and multiply, and fill the earth.”
  2. For although Christian spouses even if sanctified themselves cannot transmit sanctification to their progeny, nay, although the very natural process of generating life has become the way of death by which original sin is passed on to posterity, nevertheless, they share to some extent in the blessings of that primeval marriage of Paradise, since it is theirs to offer their offspring to the Church in order that by this most fruitful Mother of the children of God they may be regenerated through the laver of Baptism unto supernatural justice and finally be made living members of Christ, partakers of immortal life, and heirs of that eternal glory to which we all aspire from our inmost heart. [...]
  1. And this inviolable stability, although not in the same perfect measure in every case, belongs to every true marriage, for the word of the Lord: “What God hath joined together let no man put asunder,” must of necessity include all true marriages without exception, since it was spoken of the marriage of our first parents, the prototype of every future marriage (Casti Connubii, “On Christian Marriage,” Pope Pius XI, 1930.

When He blessed our first parents, God said: “Increase and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” And to the first father of a family, He said later: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (“The Internal Order Of States And People” [Christmas Message], Pope Pius XII, 1942).

Mediator between God and men and High Priest who has gone before us into heaven, Jesus the Son of God quite clearly had one aim in view when He undertook the mission of mercy which was to endow mankind with the rich blessings of supernatural grace. Sin had disturbed the right relationship between man and his Creator; the Son of God would restore it. The children of Adam were wretched heirs to the infection of original sin; He would bring them back to their heavenly Father, the primal source and final destiny of all things (Mediator Dei, “On the Sacred Liturgy,” Pope Pius XII, 1947).

  1. From these considerations, the proof develops on these lines: if Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God’s design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of “recapitulation,”[49] in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ “in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race”;[50] and if, in truth, “it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall,”[51] then it may be legitimately concluded that as Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with the new Adam (Ad Caeli Reginam, “Proclaiming the Queenship of Mary,” Pope Pius XII, 1954).

Another most precious gift of His Sacred Heart is, as We have said, Mary the beloved Mother of God and the most loving Mother of us all. She who gave birth to our Savior according to the flesh and was associated with Him in recalling the children of Eve to the life of divine grace has deservedly been hailed as the spiritual Mother of the whole human race. And so St. Augustine writes of her: “Clearly She is Mother of the members of the Savior (which is what we are), because She labored with Him in love that the faithful who are members of the Head might be born in the Church” (Haurietis Aquas, “Draw Refreshing Water From the Sacred Heart,” Pope Pius XII, 1956.

His death will gather together again the scattered children of God; from his pierced side will be born the Church, as Eve was born from Adam’s side (Inter Insigniores, “Declaration On The Question Of Admission Of Women To The Ministerial Priesthood,” Pope Paul VI, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1976).

If the above list is not enough to convince one that monogenism is a doctrine of the faith and that polygenism is thus incompatible with the true Catholic faith, we also have the following explicit statement from an infallible ecumenical council which is impossible to dismiss without destroying Catholicity itself. This decree excludes the false idea that Adam and Eve could be considered non-literal persons, or that any process of evolution was involved specifically in the creation of Eve. It affirms, in no uncertain terms, that Eve came from Adam’s side and thus harmonizes perfectly with the Genesis account, rendering untenable any attempt to act as though Adam and Eve are non-literal figures, or that evolution, and not special creation, was involved in the creation of the first woman. Pertinently, the council also directly upholds the relation of the real Adam to the real Christ:

[1]. Adhering firmly to the foundation of the catholic faith, other than which, as the Apostle testifies, no one can lay, we openly profess with holy mother church that the only begotten Son of God, subsisting eternally together with the Father in everything in which God the Father exists, assumed in time in the womb of a virgin the parts of our nature united together, from which he himself true God became true man: namely the human, passible body and the intellectual or rational soul truly of itself and essentially informing the body. And that in this assumed nature the Word of God willed for the salvation of all not only to be nailed to the cross and to die on it, but also, having already breathed forth his spirit, permitted his side to be pierced by a lance, so that from the outflowing water and blood there might be formed the one, immaculate and holy virginal mother church, the bride of Christ, as from the side of the first man in his sleep Eve was fashioned as his wife, in this way, to the determinate figure of the first and old Adam, who according to the Apostle is a type of the one who was to come, the truth might correspond in our last Adam, that is to say in Christ. This, we say, is the truth, fortified by the witness of that huge eagle which the prophet Ezechiel saw flying over the other gospel animals, namely blessed John the apostle and evangelist, who relating the event and order of this sacrament, said in his gospel: But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness – his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe (Council of Vienne, the fifteenth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, 1311-1312 A.D).

Of course, the above statement is upheld perfectly by 1 Timothy 2:13: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” For those, like Jimmy Akin, who suggest that Vatican II has allowed us to take a more liberal approach to Scripture and to the interpretation of past council rulings and doctrine, the following declaration of faith by Pope Paul VI upholds the Council of Trent to a degree that renders it impossible to accept any alternative interpretation of Original Sin. The dogma of Original Sin is an integral part of the Catholic faith; it is directly related to our redemption by Christ. We must accept monogenism for this key element of the Catholic faith to remain sensible, otherwise the entire edifice of Catholicism falls like a house of cards. Note how everything Pope Paul VI says here is in complete conformity with Scripture and the traditional doctrine of monogenism and Original Sin:

We believe that in Adam all have sinned, which means that the original offense committed by him caused human nature, common to all men, to fall to a state in which it bears the consequences of that offense, and which is not the state in which it was at first in our first parents — established as they were in holiness and justice, and in which man knew neither evil nor death. It is human nature so fallen stripped of the grace that clothed it, injured in its own natural powers and subjected to the dominion of death, that is transmitted to all men, and it is in this sense that every man is born in sin. We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin, is transmitted with human nature, “not by imitation, but by propagation” and that it is thus “proper to everyone.” We believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of the cross redeemed us from original sin and all the personal sins committed by each one of us, so that, in accordance with the word of the apostle, “where sin abounded grace did more abound” (“Credo of the People of God,” Pope Paul VI, 1968).

This was not the only instance in which Pope Paul VI upheld the traditional Catholic doctrine of Original Sin and by association, monogenism. He also did so in 1967 and again in 1972:

  1. There reigns among men, by the hidden and benign mystery of the divine will, a supernatural solidarity whereby the sin of one harms the others just as the holiness of one also benefits the others.12 Thus the Christian faithful give each other mutual aid to attain their supernatural aim. A testimony of this solidarity is manifested in Adam himself, whose sin is passed on through propagation to all men. But of this supernatural solidarity the greatest and most perfect principle, foundation and example is Christ Himself to communion with Whom God has called us (Indulgentiarum Doctrina, “Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences,” Pope Paul VI, 1967).

There are many things we do know, however, about this diabolical world, things that touch on our lives and on the whole history of mankind. The Devil is at the origin of mankind’s first misfortune.  He was the wily, fatal tempter involved in the first sin, the original sin. That fall of Adam gave the Devil a certain dominion over man, from which only Christ’s Redemption can free us. It is a history that is still going on: let us recall the exorcisms at Baptism, and the frequent references in Sacred Scripture and in the liturgy to the aggressive and oppressive “power of darkness.” The Devil is the number one enemy, the preeminent tempter (“Confronting The Devil’s Power,” Pope Paul VI, 1972).

Now, what are we to make of Pope St. John Paul II’s statements on human evolution? Jimmy Akin argues that John Paul II essentially rejected monogenism and thus has given us carte blanche to embrace polygenism. Unfortunately, we have had a string of modern Popes who have said a variety of things which are out of conformity with traditional Catholicism. If a Pope says something which is clearly and demonstrably out of alignment with what we know to be true with respect to the Catholic faith, we are under no obligation to accept it, and in fact it is our duty to reject it and instead “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Having said that, the Pope’s statements which Jimmy Akin was referring to were such low-level statements that they carry virtually no authority whatsoever. They were never intended to instruct the faithful at large on issues of doctrine, and certainly were never intended to overrule Pope Pius XII’s declaration forbidding Catholics from holding to polygenism. If one wants to know what Pope John Paul II officially published on the topic at hand, and never revised, one need only pick up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read paragraphs 402 - 421, which is summed up in paragraphs 416-420:

416 By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human beings. 417 Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called "original sin". 418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence"). 419 "We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, "by propagation, not by imitation" and that it is. . . 'proper to each'" (Paul VI, CPG # 16). 420 The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us: "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Rom 5:20).

When it comes to evaluating a dogma of the faith, it behooves us to examine its theological grade of certainty. According to Ludwig Von Ott (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Baronius Press, MMXVIII, p.11 and 105), regarding the “Unity of the Human Race,” the following statement is considered a “theologically certain teaching (sententia ad fidem pertinens or theologice certa), a doctrine on which the Magisterium of the Church has not yet finally pronounced, but whose truth is guaranteed by its intrinsic connection with the doctrine of revelation (theological conclusions)”: “The whole human race stems from one single human pair.”

Cutting-Edge Genetics Confirms Monogenism

The above theological arguments should suffice for any faithful Catholic to realize that one must accept monogenism and reject polygenism. Theology is the queen of the sciences and thus all other disciplines must bow to her, though natural science can provide a buttress of support to her conclusions. The article, “God, Family, and Genetics – A Biblical Perspective, Part One: Genetic Evidences Supporting the Divine Origin of Man and Family,” by Drs. J.C. Sanford and Dr. Robert Carter provides such support and shows that natural science strongly supports the Scriptural and Traditional record of the monogenism of Adam and Eve. The main points relating to the topic at hand are listed here:

  1. Genetic evidence that there was a literal Eve, the mother of us all. All geneticists agree that there is but one mother of us all; geneticists coined her, “Mitochondrial Eve.” Over 800 human mitochondrial sequences from around the world have been analyzed and we now have a very close approximation of Eve’s mitochondrial sequence. The average human being has only diverged from the original Eve sequence by about 22 mutations. With time we are all slowly getting further from the original Eve sequence as mutations accumulate. The observed mutation rate within the human mitochondrial DNA is about 0.5 mutations per generation. Thus, even for those individuals with the most mutated sequences (~100 mutations different from Eve), it would only require 200 generations (less than 6,000 years) to accumulate this many mutations. This lines up perfectly with the Biblical time frame but completely contradicts (by orders of magnitude) the evolutionary narrative.
  2. Genetic evidence that there was a literal Adam, the father of us all. All geneticists now also agree that there is but one father of us all, originally coined “Y-Chromosome Adam,” though more often now called the “most recent common ancestor” (MRCA). It should be noted that Noah is actually our MRCA, but since Noah and Adam were only ten generations apart, their Y-chromosomes would have been almost identical. Contrary to previous declarations, A new analysis of the Chimpanzee Y-chromosome has revealed that it is very dissimilar to the human Y-chromosome. “The chimp Y chromosome is only half as long as the human Y chromosome, meaning there is less than 50% total similarity. The remainder of the chimp Y is only 70% similar to the corresponding part of the human Y chromosome (so total similarity is only about 40%). From an evolutionary perspective, to get this much divergence in just 6 million years would require an impossibly high mutation rate for the Y chromosome.... There is no possibility that this amount of genetic change could have occurred in such a short time.” The Y chromosomes of more than 1200 men from multiple modern human populations were analyzed and a reconstruction of the original Y-chromosome Adam sequence was achieved, allowing us to determine how many mutations separate modern men from Adam. Today, the Y chromosomes of most modern men are less than 500 mutations removed from Y-chromosome Adam. “Out of about 30 million sequenced letters in the Y chromosome, this amounts to only 0.002% change from Adam to most modern men.... If the Y chromosome mutates extremely rapidly (required by evolutionists to explain the vast differences between chimp and human Y chromosomes), how is it possible that all men have nearly identical Y chromosomes, and are so very similar to Y-chromosome Adam? Even if we assume a fairly low mutation rate for the Y chromosome (about 1 mutation per chromosome per generation), we would need less than 500 generations (less than ten thousand years) to accumulate the observed mutations. This is the most straightforward application of the ‘molecular clock’ concept. This amount of time is probably an underestimate, for there are multiple factors that can temporarily increase the mutation rate, and every mutation is an irreversible ‘click’ on the genetic ratchet. A subsequent study revealed that the Y-chromosome clock, specifically our most recent common ancestor, lived about 4500 years ago, lining up perfectly with Noah according to the Biblical chronology (Jeanson, N. T. , & Holland, A. D. (2019). Evidence for a Human Y Chromosome Molecular Clock: Pedigree-Based Mutation Rates Suggest a 4,500-Year History for Human Paternal Inheritance. Answers Research Journal, 12, 393–404. Source link).
  3. Molecular clocks now put Adam and Eve in the same period – and within a biblical time frame. As can be seen from the above, the extrapolated time frames that mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam (or MRCA) trace back to both fit nicely within the Biblical time frame. Though evolutionists admit there is both one mother and father of us all, they do not believe that mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam fit the Biblical chronology. The mutation rates calculated for above analyses were done with observed mutation rates; i.e., as directly measured as possible. On the contrary, the evolutionists use extrapolated mutation rates based on evolution theory. They cannot utilize directly observed mutation rates because these do not fit with evolution theory since the directly observed mutation rates are far too low and the evolutionists require the most recent common ancestors to be more than 100,000 years ago, therefore evolutionists utilize unrealistically high mutation rates.
  4. Human genetic uniformity shows there are no races: we are just one human race. The genomes of many men and women from all over the world have now been sequenced. To the evolutionist’s general surprise, we are all very closely related. On average, the genomes of any two random people are 99.9% identical. The few differences that are observed do not closely follow the artificial categories we call ‘races.’ Using classical, but outmoded, ideas of race, two people from different ‘races’ have almost the same percent difference as two people from the same ‘race.’ Skin color is an extremely poor predictor of actual genetic relatedness, and so grouping people based on ‘racial categories’ is no longer justifiable. Because the term “race” is no longer justified scientifically, the more meaningful terminology should be to “categorize genetically-distinct human populations as ‘people groups.’ This was all a big surprise to the scientific community. First, it was expected that over deep time, any sizable population should accumulate enormous numbers of mutations. So it was expected that mankind, having very deep roots, should have enormous genetic diversity. What was actually seen was that there is remarkably little human genetic diversity – much less diversity than is seen in most other mammals. Second, since the time of Darwin it has been thought that traditional racial distinctions (based primarily on skin color) reflected major genetic differences. It was thought that such differences could only have developed through random mutation and natural selection operating over a very long period of time. It was expected that the races would prove to be genetically very different, and it was thought that the evolution of the races must have happened over very deep time. The actual genetic evidence makes it clear that we are one race, and that we come from a narrow genetic base, that the source population lived quite recently, and that people groups diverged much more recently than previously thought. All this is remarkably consistent with the biblical perspective.
  5. Most human genetic diversity could have easily been built into Adam and Eve’s genomes. If Adam’s genome had been intelligently designed, it would obviously have been designed to include a great number of designed genetic variants. Otherwise, all people would essentially be clones of Adam, which would be bad design for many obvious reasons. How much genetic variation could be designed into the genomes of Adam and Eve? The answer might seem surprising; all known single-letter variants (SNPs) now present within the current human population could have been programmed into two diploid individuals. Together, Adam and Eve had four sets of chromosomes. Since there are only four genetic letters (A, T, C, G), Adam and Eve could have contained every single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) now seen in the human race (i.e., every letter variant currently in the human race could have been pre-loaded into Adam and Eve’s four sets of chromosomes). Adam and Eve could easily have been heterozygous at 100 million nucleotide sites, but we do not need anything like this to explain modern human diversity. Even now a single person is heterozygous at roughly four million sites and carries a large part of all human variation. There are less than 15 million common SNPs found in all of humanity, and a single modern couple could account for a very large part of all human variation (about 8 million SNPs).

Since most common genetic variations are not associated with disease, most variation could very reasonably be attributed to designed variation. What would prevent God from engineering 25 million variants (heterozygous sites) into Adam from the very beginning? If we assume Eve was assigned her own unique genome, this would double the amount of potential designed diversity. If that was not enough diversity, God could have created different genomes in each of Adam and Eve’s reproductive cells. There really is no limit to how much diversity God could have designed into Adam and Eve, but we do not need to invoke anything more than simple heterozygosity. Adam’s potential heterozygosity alone is sufficient to explain nearly all human genetic diversity. In addition to these common variations, there are many rare variations also found in the human genome, and these are generally restricted to specific people groups and limited geographic areas, meaning these must represent new mutations that have been added to the originally designed variations. These rare variations are routinely associated with genetic damage. These would logically have arisen more recently in human history, by random mutation, after the Fall. Even though many mutations have accumulated in the genome during human history, it is reasonable to conclude that most observable human genetic variation was created by God.

The biblical perspective has unique explanatory power in terms of giving a credible explanation for the amazing range of human traits and abilities. There is no single “superior genotype.” We all have unique sets of gifts and talents, which very reasonably reflect good design, and for which we can give thanks to God. Biblical monogenism is thus both scientifically sound and a theologically certain dogma of the faith while polygenism stands as a condemned proposition which the Church has told us consistently that no Catholic may hold. Monogenism is only a problem for the false hypothesis of evolution, while polygenism remains a fanciful concoction clung to by those who reject monogenism’s overwhelming support in Scripture, Holy Tradition, and Magisterial teaching. Let us conclude with the words of St. Paul which could be fittingly addressed to the champions of polygenism in our day:

I wonder that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.  As we said before, so now I say again: If anyone preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema (Galatians 1:6-9).

Dr. Kevin Mark
Divine Mercy Sunday
April 16, 2023

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