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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.