to exclude the notion that original sin consists merely in
of Adam’s sin.
Beyond exegetical issues, the theology of original sin
also needs to take account of the results of evolutionary
science regarding human origins, and thus the historicity
of the first human beings who figure in the Genesis nar-
rative. There has been an overwhelming preference in
Catholic tradition for some form of historical monogen-
ism. According to Catholic doctrine, the first human being
began to exist for a supernatural destiny in accordance with
a freely established divine plan, possessing a body like ours
and a spiritual soul. He lost this destiny for himself and
for his posterity, to be redeemed in Christ the New Adam.
Faith teaches us to expect that this supernatural history
of salvation overlaps with the evolutionary history of the
human race. How this is can be explained remains for the
time being unclear.
In his splendid discussion of the historicity of Adam
and Eve, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, o.p., points to the strong
evidence, not for amulti-regional model for human origins,
but for an out-of-Africamodel with a population of
modern humans evolving into
humans much later.
He hypothesizes that “it would be
fitting for God to have given the original speaking bipeds
[as he calls them] the grace and preternatural gifts that they
would have needed to attain their destiny of sharing the life
of the Triune God.” This approach points to a promising
line of theological explanation, provided that it could dem-
onstrate why their rejection of the gift of grace should have
had consequences for their posterity.