Written by Stephen Michael Leininger
Posted on March 13, 2023
A Critique of Bishop Robert Barron’s Wonder Film Series
Episode Two: “Animals, the Human Animal, and God”
Adam and Eve, prior to the fall, were a perfect example of what Pope John Paul II described as an adequate anthropology of the human person. God created man, male and female He created them. As Steve Green, who wrote for Catholic Answers tells us, “For St. John Paul II a human person could never be … some random, unintended byproduct of the blind forces of physics and evolution.” Those who have fallen for the out-of-Africa hypothesis of man’s origin are clearly in the inadequate anthropology zone of theology. It is unfortunate that Bishop Robert Barron’s new Wonder Film Series has fallen into that zone.
On February 17, 2023, I emailed Bishop Robert Barron’s organization, Word on Fire (WOF). In it, I wrote:
I am writing to make you aware of a very concerning problem with the narration within one of the episodes in the Wonder Film Series. The episode is titled “Animals, the Human Animal, and God.” Unfortunately, the exact wording of portions of the narration of that film will [inevitably] lead to theologically problematic and potentially heretical interpretations [of Genesis] by members of the viewing audience. …
The narration starting at the four-minute mark, is where the problem begins. The narration text in question is this:
“All human languages seem to point to an original single language just as the human genome points to a common human ancestry the patterns of our genetics and Linguistics are deeply similar and they both point to Africa [emphasis mine].”
If Barron’s video had focused strictly on the ancestry of hominins (pre-rational humans), the study which led to the “out-of-Africa” hypothesis would not have presented any theological problems by contradicting Church teaching. Unfortunately, the fact that no distinction was made between hominins and rational man presents huge theological issues. The following link is just one of many online examples of planting seeds of doubt in the heads of Christians. Filling them with reasons to believe the Bible is in error, is unscientific, is teaching falsehoods, etc.
In Episode Three: “Seeds of Life: Creation, Evolution, and St. Augustine,” Word on Fire makes it clear that they are placing their bets on evolution as the way Adam and Eve were made. In this article, we will show that they are positively wrong — well meaning, but wrong. By taking that stance, they are painting themselves into a theologically problematic corner. God Himself has hidden in Scripture the biological sciences by which man was made the exact way that Genesis 1-3 tell us they were made.
The problem arises when these heterodox interpretations of the out-of-Africa research studies are inappropriately applied to the exegesis of the Genesis account of Creation. The exact wording of the video’s narration creates a direct link between scientists Cann, Stoneking, and Wilson’s out-of-Africa research conclusions and biblical Adam and Eve’s creation in Genesis. In the video’s transcript, the word “our” seems to reference rational man directly.
This connection between the work of Cann et al. and rational man is Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Let me state unequivocally. Adam and Eve have no species-specific genetic connection to hominins, such that they could be accurately described as our ancestors. Likewise, no one could accurately state that Jesus’ ancestors were hominins (human animals not in the image and likeness of God).
The Research Behind the Out-of-Africa Hypothesis
Since Mitochondrial DNA plays a central role in the out-of-Africa hypothesis, a brief description would be beneficial.
Brief Summary of Cann et al. Research Revolving Around Mitochondrial Eve (mtEve)
In 1987, research by Rebecca Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan Wilson (Cann et al.) was published in Nature magazine. They concluded that all human beings (no distinction is made between hominins and rational man) descended from one female living in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago. However, researchers do not suggest that she is the first female human. Instead, traveling backward through time, it is claimed she was the first female ancestor from whom all subsequent humans share a common set of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). It is also believed that Y-chromosome Adam could have existed at a different time frame than did African mtEve.
Data subsequently gathered led researchers to estimate that mtEve lived between 140,000 to 290,000 years ago. In 1990, scientists modified that estimate to approximately 170,000 years ago. Further adjustments have been made as a result of two studies that were published in 2013. Both of those studies incorporate estimates of when Y-chromosome Adam (hereafter referred to as Y-Adam) and mtEve lived. Carlos Bustamante and his research team at the Stanford University School of Medicine estimate that Y-Adam lived between 120,000 to 156,000 years ago. Bustamante also estimated mtEve lived between 99,000 to 148,000 years ago. He stated that the idea that all rational humans descending from a common set of ancestors (biblical Adam and Eve) is just not that true. A team led by Paolo Francalacci at the University of Sassari, Italy, estimated Y-Adam lived between 180,000 to 200,000 years ago which is not even within the range of the potential ages for mtEve. Can you begin to see the theological problems we get ourselves into if/when we buy into the out-of-Africa fiasco?
About Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
Nuclear DNA is the DNA located in the enclosed nucleus of every cell. Nuclear DNA contains approximately 30,000 genes in every molecule. By comparison, mtDNA has only thirty-seven genes. Mitochondrial DNA, on the other hand, is located outside the nucleus, in the watery part of the cell, called the cytoplasm. Mitochondrial DNA is found within an organelle. Organelles are specialized structures dedicated to specific functions. They are usually enclosed within their lipid membrane (resembling the outermost cell membrane). What are the certain functions reserved for mtDNA? Two out of the several are: 1) converting food into energy that is usable by the cell and 2) the regulation of cell death (apoptosis). The mtDNA within the mitochondrion is more similar to bacteria than to human DNA.
The only way the out-of-Africa hypothesis should even be considered plausible is if the Theistic Evolutionist’s belief is true. They hypothesize that God created everything and set it in motion, but after that, He does not interfere or intervene in the process. In other words, all that God wills is accomplished through the automatic (self-driving, so to speak) operations of the Laws of Nature. Furthermore, He does not intervene over or alter those Laws. This belief is simply and demonstrably unbiblical — and dangerous. However, God did intervene in the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s creation.
Before launching into the defense of my claim regarding the out-of-Africa conclusions, I first want to say that I greatly respect Bishop Robert Barron, his Office, and his ministry. I take no pleasure in making these accusations. However, Truth must always be defended against attacks by those promoting error, regardless of their sincere beliefs and good intentions.
I contacted WOF to call their attention to the theological problem I found in one of their videos. I wanted to offer them a reasonable period (in my view, two weeks was a reasonable timeframe) to at least acknowledge, formulate, and communicate to me a course of action to remedy the problem. I made it clear that if they refused to make the necessary changes, I would go public with my article critiquing their video. Unfortunately, I have heard nothing from them. It has been almost four weeks now. Consequently, on March 13, 2023, I will publish my critique.
Update: On March 9th of 2023, I spoke with Kurt from WOF. He is sending me a statement from the organization. When I receive it, I will copy it to the end of this article.
Why Am I Getting Involved?
Unfortunately, too many well-intentioned people believe that science wins by default when faced with a seeming conflict between contemporary science’s hypotheses and Church/Bible teachings. This attitude is particularly relevant when we try to understand the Genesis account of the origin/creation of Adam and Eve. Due to these false hierarchical judgments toward science and religion, many theologians are too willing to engage in intellectual/exegetical gymnastics to “make” the interpretation of the Bible fit the science — no matter what. More often than not, disaster results.
In my personal and social media contacts, I have encountered a great deal of confusion, anxiety, and conflicts among those who have been led astray from the Truth due to theologically incompetent biblical exegesis. Good Catholic Christians and Christians of other faith traditions have adopted heterodox ideas regarding our First Parents. Much of the confusion is based on poorly designed and deceptively interpreted studies, the characterization of which can only be called agenda/tobacco-type/fad science. I have been through many battles with those, including biologists (including one Biology Professor at Harvard University) and atheists, who felt they knew more about the origins of man than God.
To date, none have been able to refute my claims about the mysteries of biological science hidden in Scripture and/or the hermeneutics used in the explanation of Genesis. In the two volumes of STOSS, I have tested my interpretations against around a thousand five hundred Scripture passages (not all of them unique). In every case, my hermeneutics provided a deeper understanding of the passage without any contradictions to the previous layers of interpretation.
The more profound truth behind Lot’s wife becoming a pillar of salt (Gen. 19: 24-26) reinforces the correctness of my hermeneutical approach.
Many have thanked me for helping them to see the truth about the creation account in Genesis. Until then, they were beginning to believe that Scripture was wrong, and it caused them some level of anguish. What are some theological and exegetical problems arising from the out-of-Africa research? The following are only a few examples:
1. The significant difference in the historical time frames between the existence of Y-Adam and mtEve can make it seem that biblical Adam and Eve came from two different lineages and, therefore, were born — not made.2. As a result of #1 above, the false belief that Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib is merely symbolic of a covenantal marriage began to be accepted. As a result, Eve was not really one flesh, bone from bone of Adam.3. Erroneous interpretations that promote the belief that biblical Adam and Eve were not two particular persons. Instead, they represent a small group of animal-human people located in a specific region of the world.4. It could be believed that biblical Adam and Eve were not real persons but existed at different times and had never actually met.All four of the above lead to what the Church believes is heresy. According to Dr. Ludwig Ott, it would be a heresy to believe that “the various races are derived from several separated stems (polygenism), the Church teaches that the first [rational, i.e., created in the image and likeness of God — SML] human beings, Adam and Eve, are the progenitors of the whole [rational] human race (monogenism). The teaching of the unity of the [rational] human race is not, indeed, a dogma, but it is a necessary pre-supposition of the dogma of Original Sin and Redemption…The Encyclical Humani Generis of Pius XII (1950) rejects polygenism on account of its incompatibility with the revealed doctrine of original sin. (Denziger 3028).”From experience, I know the above theological problems occur frequently. Most often as a direct consequence of the out-of-Africa hypothesis. I spent years battling the heterodox theology endorsed by many Catholics on various social media sites.Through Bishop Barron’s video, the potential exists to undo much of my and others’ efforts over the past few years. As a result, I wrote my three-part blog about mtEve specifically to counter the abovementioned issues. The first and second installments were published at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, respectively.
In the video titled “Animals, the Human Animal, and God,” Bishop Barron fails to reconcile the out-of-Africa conclusions with a correct understanding of the proper hermeneutics to arrive at a valid interpretation of the creation of man in Genesis. There was also a failure to address the problems associated with study modeling and assumptions used in the above-cited study design. These failures are likely a reflection of the false philosophy known as Scientism [which states that all truth about the material world comes through scientific research and discovery — and only through science. Adherents of Scientism believe religion has no part in determining the truth, a belief endorsed by most scientists and atheists (the vast majority of scientists are also atheists). As was said above, I have written a three-part blog explaining the problems created by Cann et al. research. The True understanding of Adam and Eve’s creation is shown in it.
Why is Bishop Barron Approving This One Particular Video?
I believe Bishop Robert Barron’s Wonder Series: Animals, the Human Animal, and God videos represent a sincere attempt by His Excellency to teach the truth about our genetic origins. But unfortunately, he is listening to the wrong people. An old expression reads: The devil is in the details, so make sure to read the fine print. Unfortunately, the highly problematic theology is revealed in the fine print of Thomistic Evolution (a particular “flavor” of Theistic Evolution).
I suspect, but do not assert; Bishop Barron has fallen for the false thinking of the Thomistic Evolutionists (TE). The founders of TE consist of four Dominican priests, each educated in one particular scientific discipline (biology, theology, and/or philosophy). Fr. Nicanor Austriaco is the group’s biologist and seems to be the primary spokesman.
My arguments with TE’s conclusions center around two main points. First, they promote a biblical view concerning Adam and Eve while, at the same time, failing to cite enough (or any) Scripture passages relating to Adam and Eve. Certainly not enough to make a compelling case for their hypothesis. Second, they have fallen for the atheists/secularists’ interpretations of the science behind the out-of-Africa study. An understanding that has Scientism written on virtually every page of their biblical exegesis. Plain and simple, the scientific research leading to TE’s conclusions is flat-out wrong, especially regarding the Creation account of Genesis.
The Thomistic Evolution Debacle
The first few paragraphs of this section are primarily taken from Part III of the blog on Mitochondrial Eve.
Fr. Nicanor seems to take the a priori position that if Scripture disagrees with science — then science trumps Church teaching. He desperately seeks to make Church teaching about Adam and Eve fit with the flawed scientific conclusions behind the out-of-Africa hypothesis, i.e., rational man’s genetic ancestor is a female who lived in Africa.
In the edition of the four-part synopsis of their hypothesis that I read, they ignore any Scripture passages referencing Adam and Eve. Yet, they want to change the interpretation of Scripture — but without actually citing any Scripture relative to Adam and Eve, the very subjects of the proposed changes. Is that wise?
The following is an essential note regarding proper methods to be followed when interpreting Scripture: According to the Pontifical Bible Commission’s booklet, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, the shortcomings inherent in the Historical — Critical method of interpreting Scripture require that “each biblical text [must be interpreted] in the light of the [entire] Canon of the Scriptures … Each individual book only becomes biblical in the light of the Canon as a whole.”
This recommendation by the Pontifical Bible Commission is why Part One of the blog on mtEve addresses every Bible passage that relates to the creation of Adam and Eve. Below, I will list a few of them:
Here are two passages that show Adam was the first modern man:
1a). “And he made from one [Adam] every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Aquinas informs us of the whys of Eve being taken out of man. If Adam had married Eve (a once-upon-a-time hominin), then Acts 17:26 would be false. The passage would have to be amended to, And he made from two [i.e., Adam and Eve] every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth.
2a). “Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world, when he alone had been created” (Wis. 10:1). Adam is the father of all rational humans, which would include Eve. Technically, however, Adam would not be considered a literal father to Eve because Adam did not conceive her through a conjugal act but was formed from his donated DNA..
The Redeemer and those redeemed are Dogmas of the Church. So, let’s look at some passages dealing with that issue.
1b). “For he who sanctifies [Jesus — SML] and those who are sanctified [all the fallen descendants of Adam, the father of humanity — SML] have all one origin” (Heb. 2:11).
Paul is telling us that Jesus (who is sinless), together with all who have sinned, comes from one origin: Adam. Eve sinned and was thus in need of sanctification. As such, Eve’s origin must be addressed. Therefore, according to this passage, the sinner Eve must come from that same origin — Adam. If Eve were to have been born from two hominins, then Jesus would not have been able to claim Adam as his only origin. He would have had two origins (six if you count the four hominin parents — i.e., Adam and Eve’s hominin parents). Hmm. I guess Jesus would have had to claim millions of origins if we counted our African ancestors.
Consider this: Scripture’s genealogy was meant to show the familial genetic line between Adam and Jesus — to show that they were of the same family —back to the beginning. A Covenant of Salt is the definition of a one flesh family. That is why genealogy is so important in Scripture. But where do we draw the line in our ancestral lineage? If Adam and Eve had hominin parents, should we include them in the family tree? Then one has to ask if animals can’t sin, would they need to be part of those needing sanctification (cf. Heb 2:11)? I am writing this to show how ridiculous (and heretical) the belief that Adam and Eve had animal parents.
If Eve were not made from Adam’s rib, it would become incontrovertible that she had two origins (if one limits origins to rational human beings in the family of man) — although animal parents would have been part of Jesus’ ancestral origin. It is ONLY through Eve’s being “taken out of man [Adam]” that Jesus could claim one origin.
It is a Dogma of the Church that Original Sin is passed down to succeeding generations via inheritance (i.e., parent’s salt/dust of DNA). Let’s shed some light on that:
1c). God intended “original innocence” to be transmitted to all man via the begetting of the genetic family of man. All descendants of Adam and Eve suffer from Original Sin through transmission to (but not committed by) all of man via begetting. To redeem the entire human family, Jesus had to become a member of that same single genetic family to redeem and purify his whole family of man in the image and likeness of God.
As described in 1b above, if Eve were not taken from Adam’s rib, the Dogmas of Original Sin and Redemption would have both been violated.Quoting Gaudium et Spes, the Catechism states, “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear [12A].” In the Catechism, it tells us:
St. Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men: Adam and Christ.… The first man, Adam, he says, became a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. The first Adam was made by the last Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him life.… The second Adam stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him. That is why he took on himself the role and the name of the first Adam, in order that he might not lose what he had made in his own image. The first Adam, the last Adam: the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. The last Adam is indeed the first; as he himself says: “I am the first and the last.[12B]
Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for “from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth [Acts 17:26; cf. Tob 8:6].”[12C]
The above words blow apart the false belief (fed by the Africa hypothesis) that rational man’s ancestors were human animals. The contradictions to Catholic teaching as related above, are staggering. Let’s recap:
1). “The human race takes its origin from two men: Adam and Christ.”
Rational man takes its origin from Adam and Jesus. Not Adam’s two supposed separate animal parents (four if you count Eve — and you would have to if you accept the Africa hypothesis).
2). “The first Adam was made by the last Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him [Trinitarian??? Or animal????] life.”
Thus, the first rational Adam would have received his soul at the same time as he was created in the body. Aquinas tells us, the animal parents of a hypothetical baby Adam would have transmitted the animal soul with the sperm; not breathed in separately by God.
3). “The second Adam stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him.”
The only way one could even come close to reconciling the above Catechism quotes, is if Jesus created the animal Adam with an animal soul (the animal soul is the substantial form of the animal body). Then subsequent to the first creation, annihilate/uncreated[12D] (Uh Oh. Major theological problem.) the first creation followed by recreating the second Adam (Wait. Would that make Jesus the third Adam????) it with a spiritual soul and a rational body.
4). “That is why he [Jesus] took on himself the role and the name of the first Adam, in order that he might not lose what he had made in his own image.”
Wait another minute! Wouldn’t that make animal Adam the first Adam? Wouldn’t that mean that animals are in the image of Jesus? Can you begin to see the theological gibberish you have to engage in to make the Out-of-Africa force-fit Genesis 1-3.
Let's look at one last section of the Catechism:
Because of its common origin [Adam] the human race forms a unity, for “from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth” [Acts 17:26; cf. Tob 8:6.]:
“O wondrous vision, which makes us contemplate the human race in the unity of its origin in God … in the unity of its nature, composed equally in all men of a material body and a spiritual soul; in the unity of its immediate end and its mission in the world; in the unity of its dwelling, the earth, whose benefits all men, by right of nature, may use to sustain and develop life; in the unity of its supernatural end: God himself, to whom all ought to tend; in the unity of the means for attaining this end; … in the unity of the redemption wrought by Christ for all [12E].[12F]
Let's do a bit of theological calculation: “common origin [Adam]” + “all men of a material body and a spiritual soul” + Eve was born from hominin parents [i.e., no spiritual soul] = a serious theological problem.
Funding for Thomistic Evolution
Why is TE attempting to redefine monogenism? Why this effort to obfuscate the exegesis of Genesis? Could research grants be at the heart of the endeavor? It is an axiom of scientific research that science follows money.
As it turns out, through grants, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco et al. are financially vested in promoting their beliefs relative to evolution and Genesis. Thus, their keen interest in Pope Pius XII’s comments concerning polygenism, monogenism, and Genesis 1-3. They are trying to get around the theological problems associated with polygenism. Accepting polygenism would be essential for convincing us to believe that Adam and Eve were born — not made. Thus, their vigorous efforts to make polygenism morph — fit — into monogenism.
From the papal Encyclical Humani Generis, we read:
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 [emphasis mine] which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true [rational] 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 [cf. Rom. 5:12-19; Conc. Trid., sess, 5, can. 1-4].
The following, I believe, is how seriously Pope Pius XII intended the first two sentences of #37 of Humani Generis to be taken. He writes:
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 …. 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.”
The “question open to discussion” in #20 is the “conjectural opinion [i.e., polygenism as defined in #37 above] ... the faithful cannot embrace.
Thomistic Evolution is a non-profit. As of July 2018, this is what their website says about their funding:
This website is supported by a grant from the Evolution and Christian Faith (ECF) Program of the BioLogos Foundation. The BioLogos ECF Program is a multi-million dollar grants program sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. [Note: the significance of the word “Evolution” in the title Evolution and Christian Faith will be made more apparent as we read more about Biologos.]
Their current website has added Ian Ramsey Centre for Science & Religion and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Let’s take a glance at both BioLogos and the John Templeton Foundation. As yet, I haven’t had the opportunity to look into these funds.
According to John UpChurch:
BioLogos gives priority to the claims of secular scientists. Their website says, “Overwhelming scientific evidence points to an old earth,” and “The data are clear that humans have been created through an evolutionary process and there was never a time when there was a single first couple [In other words, no biblical Adam and Eve, which is pretty much what Fr. Nicanor Austriaco et al. are trying to get us to accept]. … According to Karl Giberson, former executive vice president of BioLogos, the strategy BioLogos employs can be described as this: Reject what atheistic scientists like Jerry Coyne and Stephen Hawking say about God, but accept what they teach about biology and cosmology .”[15-A]
BioLogos’ balancing act doesn’t remove barriers to trusting Christ. It establishes new ones. By separating matters of God from matters of science, they build a wall that leaves God out of efforts to explain the real world. While the Bible claims that God is not only the Creator but also the foundation for all understanding, BioLogos takes a position that relegates Him to insignificance.
Here is another quote that informs us of the true goal of Biologos. In 2010, BioLogos president Darrel Falk wrote:
Option #1: [that Adam and Eve are actual historical people] is the standard argument put forward by those who believe in a young earth created by God in six twenty-four-hour days less than 10,000 years ago. BioLogos exists in no small part to marginalize this view from the Church. A fundamental part of our mission is to show that Option #1 is not tenable.
Biologos and The John Templeton Foundation want to convince us to accept the science that indicates that biblical Adam and Eve never existed. They want us to gather around a giant wall built around themselves. This wall, called Scientism, was built so we can’t see what they are trying to accomplish. But unfortunately, it also prevents Scientism adherents from seeing the concrete scientific truths of Creation. Scientific Truths God Himself has hidden in Genesis. Hidden until the right time in history. The time for Him to reveal the fuller Truths contained within Genesis. These scientific mysteries are so advanced that man has only recently started to discover them. Truths about the dust and salt of DNA. Facts about the stem cells contained in the human body — including (even primarily) in Adam’s ribs. Truths about epigenetic plasticity, i.e., the software which programs and reprograms the function of our DNA as a direct result of each person’s environment, behavior, food intake, etc. Scientific Truths about creating one Person from another person’s genetic material — one flesh, two persons (a true covenant of salt). Epigenetic plasticity is why Scripture often refers to us as clay.
I found some rather disturbing information about the John Templeton Foundation. According to the Templeton website, they are funding projects of the World Economic Forum. In particular, they are financing the Forum of Young Global Leaders. The World Economic Forum is behind a worldwide effort to change the world via the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Into a world ruled by Global Elites. A world without God. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, is a valued member of the World Economic Forum and one of those Young Global Leaders. Unfortunately, under Trudeau’s leadership, Christian Churches are suffering widespread persecution. Frankly, I don’t think one will find a single Christian among the elites of the WEF.
Many hypothesize that Klaus Schwab is the Antichrist. I believe it is certainly a plausible hypothesis. So why is Templeton (who is funding the Godless World Economic Forum) also funding Thomistic Evolution? Why does a Foundation or philanthropic group give money to others? The answer: To further their philosophical, cultural, and political agenda.
Neither Biologos nor John Templeton Foundation can be genuinely associated with any truly Christian faith traditions. They are out to destroy true faith by introducing seeds of error into their victim’s theology. Whether realized or not, Thomistic Evolution has fallen into that trap. An example of this problem is the research concerning the so-called mitochondrial Eve.
True Science (as Revealed in Scripture) Refutes the Evolutionary Creation of Adam and Eve
For twenty-five years, I have researched and written about the relationship between science (mainly the biological sciences) and Scripture. I have written a book titled “The Science & Theology of Salt in Scripture” (STOSS). In the two volumes of this book (Volume Two has not yet been published), I have uncovered thirty-four mysteries of cutting-edge biological science that have only recently been discovered by modern-day science. These mysteries are not written in Scripture in a textbook fashion. Instead, they are written and hidden in an applied sciences fashion. Why applied science? Because the Bible was not written for scientists alone. It was written so that all could understand its words to the specific degree that each individual could receive it.
By discovering these cutting-edge biological mysteries, we can confidently say that both Adam and Eve were made — Not born. Furthermore, God tells us in Genesis 2:21-23 the exact scientific means by which Eve was made from Adam’s rib — and why the rib! See the two-part blog, “Woman: The holy spirit of the Family, Part One and Part Two — how man and woman were created in complementarity to one another.
When God tells us that Adam was made from the dust of the earth, he means it to be taken literally. There are two possible ways that God could have made Adam.
First possible way: Through literal geological dust. In Scripture, God not only tells us that he is capable of doing it, but he also does it, though virtually no one catches the fact. Let’s cite instances of the former, followed by the latter. Here are three examples of the former: A) Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread. Satan is evil, but he is not stupid. He would not tempt Jesus this way unless he knew Jesus could do it (Lk. 4:3, Mt. 4:3); B) God turned dust into gnats (Ex. 8:16-17); C) God tells us he could turn stones into children of Abraham, i.e., members of the Chosen nation (Mt. 3:9, Lk. 3:8).
Here is an instance of the latter: In John 2:6-11 we read how Jesus changed water into wine. Almost everyone misses a crucial fact contained in the words of this passage. What Jesus did in his very first public miracle was to turn water, which has zero organic matter, i.e., DNA, into organic matter (wine), which does contain DNA. Its creation is accomplished instantaneously. He did not do this from pre-existing grapes that had evolved over many generations of grapes. He created that particular DNA from nothing, ex nihilo. Not only did he create the grapes ex nihilo, but he also created them with a particular genome (a genome that had not existed before — no two genomes are precisely the same), a very specific set of genes within the nucleus of the grape cells; a set of genes that produced good wine. Hmm. Could Jesus have created Adam with a particular set of mtDNA? Piece of cake! But did he?
If you think that the water in the jars might have contained a few grape cells, that assumption would be highly inconsistent with Jewish Law. Leviticus 11:36 tells us, “Only a spring or a cistern holding water shall be ritually clean.” So, water used for ritual purification had to be ritually and literally clean — no grape DNA could be allowed. Furthermore, remember the six stone jars. The jars, too, were an essential part of the ritual purification at Cana. For “only a stone water container is considered to be clean. Furthermore, it doesn’t become ritually impure if it comes in contact with the death of organic material (for example, if a mouse is found dead in it).” If it so happened that the water and/or any water container, other than a stone container, became unclean, then not only the water, but the priest who used it would become ritually unclean — a big deal in Jewish Law.
Now, if a piece of the stone/dust fell into the water, it would still be considered ritually clean water. Jesus could have validly and easily created the DNA of the perfect wine from any stone particles in the jar. God could have effortlessly turned dust into Adam and/or Eve. Scripture contains no lies. Sure. But it was theologically vital for Eve to have been “taken from out of man (Gen 2:23),” i.e., that man being Adam.
Second possible way (the one I believe is most likely): God took a germline stem cell from some other hominin male’s sperm. With this material, he breathed the Breath of life into it, and it began to grow and multiply as a man created in the image and likeness of God. The stem cell extraction would have occurred before the creation of the hominin animal soul (sperm cells do not possess souls — only genetic material). Thus, there is no substantial form of a human animal yet directing the formation of an animal-human body. Nevertheless, as a consequence of this creation method, the mitochondrial DNA of our early ancestors would be present in Adam’s cells, which would also be present in Eve’s cells when the Breath was breathed into her nostrils. Furthermore, the creation of biblical Adam and Eve would be completely independent of the historical existence of either mtEve or Y-Adam.
What does the Church say about this possibility? “The Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of [True and unbiased] human sciences and sacred theology, research, and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter — for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that [rational human — SML] souls are immediately created by God.”
Because of their self-inflicted blindness, scientists and atheists try to get us to accept heretical interpretations of Scripture. Don’t fall for the trap. Whether it be consciously or not, whether it be Thomistic or some other flavor of Evolutionary hypotheses, they are trying to push falsehood upon the Church.
The study by Cann et al. contains assumptions that conflict with the biblical account of Adam and Eve’s creation. If their teachings are accepted, it will lead to several heretical conclusions. In Part Three of the blog exploring mtEve (links below), five highly problematic interpretations upon which to elaborate.
As a biologist, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco should have known the scientific problems behind the conclusions reached by Cann et al. The fact that the null hypothesis was never even tested against a literal interpretation of Eve’s creation (via a credible and valid scientific method described in Genesis) by which she could be “taken out of man” using the stem cells from Adam’s rib.
Does Scientism so blind Fr. Nicanor that the thought of subjecting the null hypothesis to testing (contrary to well-established scientific norms) against the Creation account of Adam and Eve in Genesis never crossed his scientific or scriptural mind? After all, other scientists, likely much less biblically knowledgeable than Nicanor, have made the connection between science and the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib.
Reading Genesis 2:21-23, Biologists Francesco Callea and Michelle Callea, researchers at the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Children’s Hospital Bambino Gesù, marveled at the analogy between sleep and anesthesia (as anesthesia would be necessary for bone marrow transplant). Also of interest to them was the origin of the two humans involved in this episode (Adam and Eve).
In an article published in the American Journal of Hematology, they wrote:
In the first book of the Bible, God fashions a woman from one of Adam’s ribs: “while Adam was sleeping, … [he] took one of the ribs… and [from] the rib taken from man… made a woman” (Genesis 2:21–22). Were stem cells present at this ancient origin point, in Adam’s rib?
The recent discovery of stem cells in bone marrow and their therapeutic application in stem cells regenerative medicine would support the hypothesis that the development of science represents a quite predictable phenomenon proceeding from the potency of Adam’s rib. Likewise, the biomedical research appears to represent a continuous discovery of historical and prehistorical milestones. …
The rib, in particular, represents an anatomic type of long bone with a wide, spongious component rich in hematopoietic bone marrow, containing multipotent, pluripotent, and unipotent stem cells. … Carefully reading Genesis 2 [Holy Bible, King James version, Genesis (2:7, 2:21–22)], one is impressed by the fact that man and woman originated via two different modalities: Man “from the dust of the ground, [God] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7); Woman “from the rib he had taken out of the man [Adam]” while he was sleeping (Genesis 2:21–22).
The analogy between Adam’s sleep and anaesthesia (as in surgical procedures, for bone marrow transplantation) is striking. Also striking, is that the two events—the origin of man and of woman—are not comparable [i.e., two separate events involving two separate modalities — SML]. Adam’s origin is not discussed at present, as nowadays, it seems to belong to the sphere of divinity and as such is inaccessible to scientific knowledge, whereas woman’s origin is a suitable subject for science.
The recent discovery (or rediscovery) of stem cells in bone marrow and their application in regenerative medicine would seem to support the hypothesis that the development of science could be predicted from the story of Adam’s rib. Surprisingly, the progress of science, in turn, may lead us to look again into the narrative of our evolutionary ancestry.
Another interesting fact that supports the belief that Eve was literally made from Adam’s rib is this: While all bones can repair themselves, ribs are the only bones that can regenerate themselves. God designed man perfectly. So, it would follow that if God took a rib from Adam’s perfectly designed body, he should put it back to its original state of perfection via regeneration. God chose the rib for a specific reason. See the two-Part blog titled “Woman: the holy spirit of the Family” URL was linked earlier in this article.
Further Critiques of Thomistic Evolution's Hypothesis
In an article written by Eric Bermingham, which includes an Introduction and Conclusion by Fr. Thomas Hickey, we read:
[Fr. Hickey writes:] Eric Bermingham has done us a valuable service by critiquing the recent work of Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P. and the so-called “Thomistic” evolutionists. Certainly no one should doubt the sincerity of the faith of Fr. Austriaco and his colleagues, nor impugn their motives, nor disparage their credentials. Nevertheless, Mr. Bermingham finds serious errors in almost all of their apologetic for molecules-to-man evolution. At times, Mr. Bermingham points out more recent discoveries that Fr. Austriaco seems to be unaware of. At other times, he calls attention to flaws of reasoning, to self-contradictory claims, to unsupported conclusions, and to unwarranted assumptions. Still at other times, Mr. Bermingham points out Fr. Austriaco’s unwillingness to acknowledge the depth of the clash between the current conclusions of the majority of natural scientists and the deposit of faith.
Here are a few thoughts by Eric Bermingham:
Fr. Austriaco uses the next four bulletin inserts [Parish bulletin inserts … Some of them are sound – others reduce the Genesis account to allegory if not myth. [See link for the true meaning of myth in Genesis and the historicity of Adam and Eve.] He correctly cites Pius XII in Humani Generis as excluding the possibility of polygenism because of the incompatibility of that concept with Original Sin. Unfortunately, Fr. Austriaco discards the teaching of Pius XII and the preceding 1950 years of Church teaching, together with the 1500 years of Old Testament belief and argues that Original Sin can be compatible with multiple human ancestors [that can only happen when one neglects all the Bible passages dealing with Adam and Eve — a tactic he has amply demonstrated in his other writings—SML].], if only you redefine Original Sin!
That is very typical of a committed evolutionist – he will redefine any concept to save the hypothesis of molecules-to-man evolution. Original Sin is redefined as some sort of inherent weakness instead of a single act. However, it is only because of Original Sin that we need a Redeemer. Evolution reduces Redemption to Christ giving us a good example instead of sacrificing Himself for our salvation.
The idea of polygenism also makes a mockery of the Immaculate Conception. If the Blessed Virgin Mary was the one and only Immaculate Conception, as She revealed to Bernadette at Lourdes and as defined by the Church, then there were no other immaculate conceptions. But if Fr. Austriaco is right, then Adam and Eve would both have been conceived without sin. So, you can either believe Fr. Austriaco, or believe Our Lady and the Church.
In the third part of the Adam/Eve series in insert 27, Fr. Austriaco comes up with his “theological narrative” to synthesize science with his bad theology. He does admit here that human language is derived from one language, which would be compatible with the story of the Tower of Babel. But of course, he would never admit that the Bible is literally true in that instance.
In the fourth and final part of the Adam/Eve series in insert 28, Fr. Austriaco admits that “how” his “theological narrative” happened is a matter of speculation. He even admits that Adam and Eve would have been infants at some point [indicating his belief in born not made — SML], directly contradicting the Word of God. So, you can either believe in this story-teller, or in God and His Church.
Sample of Theological Problems of Out-of-Africa Hypothesis
At least five significant theological problems are listed in Part Three of “Mitochondrial Eve: Should Christians be Worried.” Only one will be quoted here as a sample of what is available in that Part.
To accomplish what Kemp and Austriaco are proposing, the animal nature of animal Adam & Eve would have had to been annihilated — reduced to nothingness — uncreated. After all, it would be impossible for Adam & Eve to each have two completely separate natures simultaneously. Remember, God created by fiat. All creation took form immediately when the Father said, Let it be. Thus, there can be no such thing as two separate natures existing simultaneously in the eternal now. It is a contradiction. Unfortunately, for those particular hypotheses, annihilation creates a whole new level of very serious theological problems.St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “Grace does not destroy [annihilate] nature but perfects it.”According to Connie Rossini, “St. Albert the Great says that ‘grace builds on nature,’ they mean that grace presupposes a rational animal as the recipient.” Therefore, if through grace (and it would absolutely require the communication of grace to accomplish it), turning animal Adam into rational Adam would, in fact, destroy/annihilate the animal nature. Using Grace to elevate a rational man to the nature of an angel would, in fact, destroy/annihilate rational man’s human nature.
5a). The sensitive (animal) soul is non-subsistent (Aquinas, Summa, I, q. 118, a. 1). Therefore it is likely that the annihilation of it would have also resulted in the annihilation of the genetic material as well. It is not the same as a rational human, where the body dies but the intellectual soul (which is not subsistent) lives forever. Even if the genetic material of animal Adam were not annihilated, it would simply be a collection of dead cells with no substantial form. So, now we are absent both an irrational soul and an irrational body, within which to breathe a rational soul. Hmm! I see a problem here. Don’t forget, the image of God lies in the whole man — body and spiritual soul.
5b). As I said earlier, there is no mention in Scripture, or in any Magisterial writing, that demonstrates the annihilation of one nature, after which it is replaced by a different higher or lower nature. In fact, there is Magisterial evidence contradicting it.
Scripture tells as that God turns dust into gnats (Ex. 8:16-17). Wouldn't that be an annihilation of geological dust? No it would not. The dust is not annihilated. It is prime matter that became incorporated into the DNA of the gnat. Remember, DNA is the dust of the earth from which all organic matter is formed.
5c). Scripture and the Summa tell us that God does not annihilate anything. From the Summa we read, "Now the nature of creatures shows that none of them is annihilated … Moreover, the annihilation of things does not pertain to the manifestation of grace; since rather the power and goodness [emphasis SML] of God are manifested by the preservation of things in existence [therefore annihilation of a nature would be contrary to God’s perfect goodness--SML]. Wherefore we must conclude by denying absolutely that anything at all will be annihilated … That things are brought into existence from a state of non-existence, clearly shows the power of Him Who made them; but that they should be reduced to nothing would hinder that manifestation, since the power of God is conspicuously shown in His preserving all things in existence, according to the Apostle: ‘Upholding all things by the word of His power’ (Hebrews 1:3) … and ‘I have learned that all the works that God hath made continue forever [Ecclesiastes 3:14]. [Summa, I, q. 104, a. 4].’”
To put it another way, all of creation is the expression of the goodness and the perfections of God. God says in Genesis that all of his creation is good. In God, good means absolutely perfect — cannot be made more or less perfect. To annihilate one of his creatures (which a good God created as perfectly good) in order to replace it with something better is to imply that God needed an eraser; that his “original” creation was not good enough, so it needed to be re-made better. We would be forced to say that the power of evil is more powerful than that of a Good God. That would be an additional heresy.
I have written a three-part blog addressing the significant theological problems produced by the discovery of so-called mitochondrial Eve (aka mtEve). Each topic is addressed in much greater depth in the various parts of the blog series described below. This article is meant to be more of a synopsis of the three Parts of the blog series. If you haven’t been convinced of the problems in Bishop Barron’s video, I recommend you read all three Parts, which are linked below.
In Part One, we answer the following questions:
1) Does the discovery of mitochondrial Eve contradict Genesis;
2) Did all humans descend from a woman in Africa who lived some 200,000 years ago;
3) Was Eve literally taken from Adam’s rib; and,
4) Why is any interpretation of Adam and Eve’s creation that starts with the premise that they were born, not made, a severe contradiction to Scripture?
In Part One, we will examine the Magisterial documents relative to these questions.
Part One of the blog series can be found here.
In Part Two, we address the following questions:
1) Why mtEve is NOT biblical Eve;
2) Why the scientific interpretations of out-of-Africa mtEve do not apply to Eve (or Adam, for that matter) in the Creation Account in Genesis;
3) What faults in research design led to interpretations that exclude biblical Eve;
4) What heresies proceed from faulty interpretations;
5) Why mtEve research proves that both the literal and literalistic interpretations of the Bible account of Adam & Eve’s creation are virtually identical?
Part Two of the blog series can be found here:
In Part Three: We show that biblical Adam & Eve were NOT:
1) Conceived by hominin human animals;
2) The same as mtEve and/or Y-Adam;
3) Part of a population bottleneck;
4) Immaculately Conceived by animal-human parents; and,
5) Irrational human animals — ever!
All the above are false, theologically problematic, and involve (at least) two separate heresies. As was said earlier: Read the fine print behind the hypothesis. These problematic hypotheses are elaborated on in Part III.
If you believe 1-5 above are true, then “rib” in Genesis is not symbolic of covenantal marriage. Consider this, if Adam and Eve’s parents were hominin (animal humans), while Adam and Eve were the first rational humans who would validly perform the covenantal marriage ceremony. In the correctly interpreted Genesis account, which tells us that Eve was taken out of Adam, Adam woke up from his sleep — Married. That is what a Covenant of Salt is. The two became one flesh.
Part Three of the blog series can be found here:
Evolution, especially when attempting to apply it to rational man, is an insidious tactic of Satan. In general, I think some degree of Evolution is likely. Epigenetic plasticity is likely responsible for some portion of phenotypical morphology across multiple generations. Scripture refers to passages about the father’s sins visiting the sons to the third and fourth generation (e.g., Ex 20:5, 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 5:9). However, I have not encountered any evidence to support belief in Cross-species evolution.
Through my extensive research on this topic, I can confidently say that the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s creation is a literal and literalistically accurate description of said creation. My exegesis, as repeatedly described in this and other articles on STOSS Book’s website, is the only one that does not contradict the research conducted by Cann et al. while, at the same time, does not lead to a heretical or theologically problematic interpretation of Scripture.
We must fight any hypothesis that seeks to undermine the Church’s teaching about the reality of biblical Adam and Eve. This fight would include Bishop Barron’s video, “Animals, the Human Animal, and God.” I cannot recommend viewing by any member of the family. I don’t qualify that statement because I have seen too many adults who have fallen for the lies of evolutionists. We must oppose any attempt to characterize Genesis as a mere fable, story-telling, allegory, or metaphor. Why? Because it is not any of those genres. Remember, the devil is in the details. That is where he is to be found.
. Dorothy R. Haskett, “‘Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution’ (1987), by Rebecca Louise Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan Charles Wilson,” (The Embryo Project Encyclopedia, Arizona Board of Regents, 2014), https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/mitochondrial-dna-and-human-evolution-1987-rebecca-louise-cann-mark-stoneking-and-allan October 10, 2014.
. Ewen Callaway, “Genetic Adam and Eve did not live too far apart in time,” Nature, doi:10.1038/nature.2013.13478, https://www.nature.com/news/genetic-adam-and-eve-did-not-live-too-far-apart-in-time-1.13478#/b1, August 6, 2013.
Cited by Callaway: Poznik, G. D. et al. Science 341, 562–565 (2013).
 Ewen Callaway, “Genetic Adam and Eve did not live too far apart in time,” Nature, doi:10.1038/nature.2013.13478, https://www.nature.com/news/genetic-adam-and-eve-did-not-live-too-far-apart-in-time-1.13478#/b1, August 6, 2013.
Cited by Callaway: Francalacci, P. et al. Science 341, 565–569 A(2013).
. Dorothy R. Haskett, “‘Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution’ (1987), by Rebecca Louise Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan Charles Wilson,” (The Embryo Project Encyclopedia, Arizona Board of Regents, 2014), https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/mitochondrial-dna-and-human-evolution-1987-rebecca-louise-cann-mark-stoneking-and-allan, October 10, 2014.
Cited by Haskett: Pakendorf, Brigitte and Mark Stoneking. “Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution” Annual Review Genome Human Genetics 6 (2005): 165–83.
. Natalie Andrews, “What is an Organelle in a Cell?,” Sciencing, https://sciencing.com/organelle-cell-8733502.html, April 24, 2017.
. National Institutes of Health, “What is Mitochondrial DNA?,” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/chromosome/mitochondrial-dna/, January 09, 2018.
. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, (Kindle Locations 3067-3070, 3071-3073), The Mercier Press, Kindle Edition.
 Stacy A. Trasancos, Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science (Kindle Locations 588-589). Ave Maria Press. Kindle Edition).
. Pontifical Bible Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, (Pauline Books & Media, 1993), pp 52-53.
. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 92, a. 2, https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1092.htm.
[12A]. Gaudium et Spes, 22 § 1.
[12B]. St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 117; PL 52, 520–521.
[12C]. Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), p. 92, (#359-360).
[12D]. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, Q.1, A.8, Reply 2, https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm, accessed 02/01/2023.
[12E]. Pius XII, encyclical, Summi Pontificatus 3; cf. NA 1.].”
[12F]. Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 92, #360.
. Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, n. 37, http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis.html, August 12, 1950.
. Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, n. 20.
. Karl Giberson, “The Precarious but Profound Middle Ground in the Struggle Between Religion and Science,” Huffington Post, November 13, 2010.
[15-A]. John UpChurch, “The Danger of BioLogos: Blurring the Line Between Creation and Evolution, Answers in Genesis, (originally published in Answers Magazine), https://answersingenesis.org/theistic-evolution/the-danger-of-biologos/, October 1, 2011 (accessed 03/02/2023).
. John UpChurch, “The Danger of BioLogos: Blurring the Line Between Creation and Evolution, Answers in Genesis, (originally published in Answers Magazine), https://answersingenesis.org/theistic-evolution/the-danger-of-biologos/, October 1, 2011 (accessed 03/02/2023).
. Darrel Falk, “On Living in the Middle,” BioLogos Forum, June 24, 2010, biologos.org/blog/on-living-in-the-middle, accessed Feb 5, 2014.
Note: I am unable to locate the original article by Falk. I think Biologos took it down. Possibly because it, justifiably, showed the Funds true colors. Here is a link to an article posted the day after, which directly references Falk's post from the previous day.
Travis Allen, “Dying in the Middle,” Grace to You, https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B100625/dying-in-the-middle#!, Friday, June 25, 2010 (accessed 3/13/2023)
. Richard Fangrad, “BioLogos, theistic evolution and the Pelagian heresy: Debating an historical Adam and the destruction of the Gospel,” Creation Ministries International, https://creation.com/biologos-pelagian-heresy, March 22, 2014 (accessed 3/05/23).
. Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, n. 36.
. AlisonMR, IslamS, “Attributes of adult stem cells.” J Pathol 2009; 217: 144–160.
. Callea, F. and Callea, M. (2011), “Adam’s rib and the origin of stem cells.” Am. J. Hematol., 86: 529. https://doi: 10.1002/ajh.22005.
. Dr. Georgia Purdom, “The Amazing Regenerating Rib,” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/the-amazing-regenerating-rib/; February 4, 2009 (accessed 04/15/2016).
. Eric Bermingham, with an Introduction and a Conclusion by Fr. Thomas Hickey, “‘Thomistic Evolution’”: Development of Doctrine or Diabolical Deception?” Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, https://www.kolbecenter.org/thomistic-evolution-development-doctrine-diabolical-deception/, July 24, 2017 (accessed 03/07/2023).
. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, Q.1, A.8, Reply 2, https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1001.htm, accessed 02/01/2023.