First Parents

First Parents

Fr Brian Harrison OS

Mr John Young, commenting on my letter in the October AD2000, says he doesn't think "official Catholic teaching completely rules out the origin of Eve by evolution". For he considers legitimate the hypothesis that "Adam and Eve were identical twins, and God intervened at the chromosomal level to make Eve female".

I have dealt with this fanciful hypothesis in the article referenced in my previous letter. It is in fact "ruled out" by at least three weighty magisterial statements. First, the Profession of Faith of Pope Pelagius I (a document comparable in authority to Paul VI's 1968 Credo of the People of God) asserts that the first woman was created de costa viri ("from the side of the man" (DS 443).)

The word vir means an adult male, and moreover, a newly fertilised zygote doesn't yet have any body part that could reasonably be called a "side" or "rib" ( costa). Another solemn profession of faith, that of the Ecumenical Council of Vienne, is even clearer. It declares that "from the side of the first man, cast into sleep, Eve was formed for him unto marriage ( de latere primi hominis soporati Eva sibi in coniugium est formata)" (DS 901).) A tiny fertilised zygote is not yet capable of being either "asleep" or "awake".

In the light of such previous magisterial statements, and the whole consensus of Scripture and Tradition, Leo XIII was able to declare as part of "the Church's permanent doctrine" ( perpetuam doctrinam Ecclesiae) the truth that after creating Adam, "God willed to give him a female companion whom He wondrously drew forth from his side as he slept ( sociam illi voluit adiungere, quam de latere viri ipsius dormientis mirabiliter eduxit)" ( Acta Sanctae Sedis, 12, 1879-1880, p. 386). Moreover, in this passage of the encyclical Arcanum, Pope Leo is teaching that this "wondrous" act of God is part of the "true origin of marriage" ( vera matrimonii origo) and marriage of course supposes a fully formed man and woman.

Mr Young himself seems a little embarrassed by this "identical twin" scenario, hastening to assure us that he has "no wish to defend that speculation". He is right to distance himself from it for it has no more basis in science than in theology, and is really nothing but (ahem!) a fig-leaf that superficially masks the incompatibility between Genesis and a consistent evolutionary worldview.

St Louis, Missouri, USA

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