Genesis and Genetics: the Same Truth

Last week I finally had the chance to watch the film Noah.  Admittedly I had already read the very positive review by Steven Greydanus on his DecentFilms site, and so I felt predisposed to not hate it.  In fact, I didn’t hate it, but I’m not sure I’d give it an “A-” either. Be that as it may, it re-ignited a line of thinking that I’ve discussed with friends over the last few years, of how the story of Creation and Fall contains wisdom that can inform our post-modernity arrogance, especially that of atheistic science.  Many of us have dismissed the depth of the earliest verses of Genesis because they are from various sources that utilize unfamiliar literary styles, heavy on allegory and symbols–but nonetheless containing the inspired word of God.

We know from Church teaching that Catholics are obliged to believe in the truth relayed in Genesis of a single set of human parents, one man and one woman (Adam and Eve), from which the entire human race sprang and from which all humans inherited their fallen nature.  This teaching then also implies that the children of Adam and Eve married one another and had children, who then did likewise, generations marrying and bearing children with siblings and cousins.  Since Adam and Eve lived for over 900 years, presumably they produced hundreds of kids.  With subsequent siblings and cousins marrying and procreating over centuries, the human population built quickly.

She [Cain’s wife] was a daughter of Adam, and Cain’s own sister; God dispensing with such marriages in the beginning of the world, as mankind could not otherwise be propagated. He built a city, viz. In process of time, when his race was multiplied, so as to be numerous enough to people it. For in the many hundred years he lived, his race might be multiplied even to millions.  Footnote to Genesis 4:17, Douay-Rheims Bible-Challoner Revision

I believe the story of Adam and the first several generations is showing us that mankind was created as the pinnacle of God’s creative effort, with certain preternatural powers including protection against the “penalty” of inbreeding.  Adam and Eve were made perfect and presumably without any harmful traits to pass along.  However, due to the Fall subsequent generations became less perfect, including shorter lives and the loss of the preternatural powers.  Today, inbreeding results in all manner of genetic disorders, and is generally taboo; presumably because recessive, harmful traits are more easily propagated within close family members who’ve inherited those genes.  But near the beginning, this wasn’t the case; there were fewer harmful genes.

So, has mankind actually be devolving since the beginning of the human race, rather than evolving as many scientists tell us?  We know from measurements and from our own observation that the universe tends toward entropy, that is disorder and chaos; things break down, slow down, wind down.  Yet, evolutionists would have us believe that mankind is actually being perfected through “diversity” as our gene pool continues to mix.  I’m not so sure about that.

Science will never ultimately contradict the faith.  Our understanding of genetics shows us that every child has a unique DNA pattern and is thus a new person, distinct from the mother who carries him (and the father, too) and thereby accorded the dignity and protection of a human being.  Similarly, as we explore more about genetics, disease, and diversity we will confirm the Truth contained in all of Scripture including the texts that tend to lean toward symbolism and allegory.

While perhaps elusive for now, I truly believe that Genesis and genetics are part of the same God-given Truth, and we will discover it.  We’ll never truly “evolve” to the level of perfection enjoyed by our First Parents, until glorified by Christ at the end of time.

O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!  O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

One comment

  1. Timshel says:

    This is an intriguing thought.

    I remember hearing the argument, “If humans evolve, why aren’t we transitioning to something else?” — and the response that, at a certain point, we began to evolve culturally instead of biologically. (Basically, our cleverness, cooperation, and invention overcome the “natural” survival of the fittest. We just don’t die as often, as easily, as soon, or as expected.)

    But could it be that the moment in the proposed evolutionary history of hominids in which cultural evolution trumped biology is the moment in which God made created man and woman in His image? Could it be that in that moment we were not only the pinnacle of his earthly creations, but the Best Version of Ourselves™? That’s an interesting notion to ponder…

    The one qualm I have at first blush is that the suggestion of biological de-evolution (devolution? Devil-ution?) might suggest a separation of body and soul, or else suggest that the soul, too, is de-evolving. Both seem problematic, but maybe I need to spend more time on this.

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