When it comes to discussions over the origins of man, opinions can and do vary wildly. Literalists will limit themselves to the narrow confines of their own insular perspective, not allowing any thought that falls outside of their thinking; while the other side of the spectrum will, with an equally sectarian viewpoint, insist on a random beginning claiming that we evolved from the proverbial single celled amoeba, with no chance of any First Cause!
When considering the story of ‘Adam & Eve’, we first need to contextualize, putting the story into its own timeframe. The Book of Genesis could be dated to between 1446 BCE and 1406 BCE[i]. It is not hard to envision a tribal society, grounded in an agrarian lifestyle. The concept of origin would have to have been based on personal experience as well as the world around them; hence, if one were to use the postulation of Ockham’s razor, in the simplest of deductions, man would have been seen to originate from one pair! However, even the question – where did that first pair come from would have raised its head! Thus, perhaps, the early extrapolation of the creation?
Do we know the mind of God? How He set His plan or ‘design’ into action, man is slowly unravelling. Despite Humani Generis, the Church has come to accept what has proven to be scientific fact, its theology has evolved but its faith has remained constant. When it comes to Adam and Eve, the church has re-evaluated its view; looking at them as the embodiment of humankind and this is sensible given the advances in genetic understanding.
It makes sense that there would have to have been a large number of Adam & Eves (polygenism) to ensure the chance of survival of the species homo sapiens; the large variation within humankind today would, within my logic structure, demand a wider gene pool to start with than just one pair![ii] Yet, an alarming number of people still believe in monogenism, despite the contrary evidence or logic.
I hasten to add that this (emphatically) does not mean that there is no First Cause (God), only that as we progress in society, we need to adjust our thinking carefully and within the bounds of our faith, to adapt to apodictically proven theories.
For me, Adam and Eve represent the dawn of man unto God, where man was given sentience, a soul. “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.“[iii]
How we arrived at the point of sentience, defines the glory and magnificence of God’s creation, culminating in man, made in His image.
[i] (Zondervan 1992, 322 § Genesis) Genesis could also be a coalition of a number of smaller writings brought together at a later date.
[ii] This is only my belief and is not grounded in any scientific opinion.
[iii] Genesis 2:7
1. Zondervan. NIV Nave’s Topical Bible. Hardcover. Edited by John R Kohlenberger and David J Jirak. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.