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BronzeCastle wrote:

Hi, guys —

Then God said,

"Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

Genesis 1:26

  • Does that mean that the Neanderthals also had dominion over the fish of the sea, over the livestock, and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that moved along ground since they were also, along with Homo sapiens, considered to be human?

    • If that is true, how can this be since at the same time, they are considered to be a different species than Homo sapiens?
    • If that is not true, then why are the Neanderthals considered to be humans?

  • Why is it then unethical to clone a Neanderthal?
  • Why were they able to have mixed with Homo sapiens?
  • Were the Neanderthals also made in the image of God?


  { Since Neanderthals were human like Homo sapiens, did they have the same dominion in Genesis? }

John replied:

Dear BronzeCastle,

We really don't know at what point in time, man became man in the sense of Christian anthropology . . . having the image and likeness of God.

Evolution is a well or wide-accepted theory about how God created man. We know that man had to at least have reached a point of reason and language of some kind to communicate and understand the limited divine revelation he received.

The Scriptures give us what we know to be Salvation History — some of which we presume to be fairly literal, but some, most Catholics will accept as construct meant to reveal deep theological truths and of course God Himself.

Trying to reconcile actual history with Salvation History is not only next to impossible but a futile exercise, for the simple reason that we will wrack our brains out focusing on the wrong thing and miss what the Biblical Text is actually telling us.

Now admittedly, I used to take a much more fundamentalist approach to the Scriptures. I still tend to assume some historical basis for Genesis 1 through 12 but not in the sense of reading a history text. I believe all those genealogies and names are there for reason. . . often times not quite understandable to us in the English in our current culture. That said, we certainly can grasp the fundamental revelation of God Himself and Salvation History from a surface view.

After Genesis 12, with Abraham, I take a more literal understanding but again . . . it's not a blow by blow chronological account of what happened. I tend to believe those people all existed and perhaps some of the characters in the earlier chapters existed but if we try to prove it or disprove it, we waste time. That's not the point of the text.

So coming back to your question on evolution,. we know that at some point there was One man and One woman in the image and likeness of God and the human race came from them.

How everything else shook out . . . who knows.

  • Did they breed with these other genetically human beings and produce offspring that had souls and original sin?

Well, I would tend to see it as possible but then I would also have to wonder how different a son or daughter of Adam and Eve be from these other people.

  • Did the ability reason as we do, come with the breath of God that gave man a soul?

I don't know and then we really don't know exactly how evolution exactly worked. We have an idea. We have fossil and sometimes DNA evidence but we just don't know.

So trying to reconcile two things for which we have limited knowledge . . . well, I tend to think it's a waste of time at this point. The two studies need to remain apart. Recognizing that the two don't contradict each other.



Perry Turchi, a good friend of AskACatholic replied:

Dear BC,

Actually, I think John's answer is a fairly good answer, in short shrift, to the question.

No extended rebuttal or answer is necessary from me. I would only say, that if one is deeply interested in these type of questions then start to read good, orthodox material on the subject but please don't confuse orthodox with Fundamentalist or ultra-conservative — they are not equivalent.

You could begin here:

. . . then look at the other recommended books linked/listed below this book.

I know this might sound like a cop out, but I have no time at the moment to answer the specific question at length. Besides, I find that doing the hard work of reading pays off because the authors come from a background of knowledge (hopefully), and have taken the time to lay the cards on the table at much greater length and nuance.

— Perry

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