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Theistic evolution postulates that God employed the process of evolution to bring about the formation of the human species. In this view, Adam and Eve, like any other living organisms, are thought to share a common ancestor and, by logical inference, must have had biological parents. However, Adam and Eve are also commonly believed to have possessed souls. Considering that genetically they may not have been significantly different from their parents (given the gradual nature of evolutionary changes), it raises an intriguing question: Did their parents also have souls, and if so, does this imply moral accountability for Adam and Eve's ancestry? And for a more amusing pondering: How might dinner table conversations have played out between Adam and Eve and their parents if the former possessed souls while the latter did not?

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    Maybe if you said what you mean by soul. Definitions differ.
    – Maverick
    Dec 16, 2023 at 11:33
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    Most theistic evolutionists wouldn't believe in a historical Adam & Eve; they'd say they were symbolic or literary characters, not real people
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 21, 2023 at 15:12
  • Also, Biblically the animals have souls too. So the answer is surely yes. Having a soul is not what distinguishes humans from non-humans.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 21, 2023 at 15:14

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Theistic evolutionists might answer the question either way.

  • No. Adam and Eve were the first people with souls. God worked through the evolutionary process to create Adam and Eve. Once humankind evolved to a certain point, God endowed them with a soul, which Genesis 2:7 refers to as breathing the breath of life into Adam. Everyone else was still just a soulless animal. In this version of theistic evolution, Adam and Eve were real people, not just part of a human origin-story unique to Judeo-Christianity.

  • Yes. If 'Adam and Eve' existed, their parents had souls in the same sense that intelligent animals do. But these proto-human "animals" would already have developed primitive religious practices such as are expressed in the most ancient cave paintings. In most versions of this scenario, Adam and Eve should not be understood as literally the first human ancestors. Rather, they were the first "truly human" ancestors. For some theistic evolutionists, the fall of Adam and Eve means that they never really became fully human. In a Christian version, Jesus might not only be the "second Adam" but the first truly human being.

The OP asks, if they had souls, were Adam and Eve's parents morally accountable? Yes, but theistic evolutionists usually also believe in cultural evolution, meaning that primitive humans should not be held to the same moral standards as those who have the benefits of a Judeo-Christian culture, or any other culture since the great World Religions emerged in the Axial Age.


I'll address the invitation to ponder amusingly in a note, not to be taken too seriously:

If Adam and Eve had souls and their parents did not, their dinner conversations might resemble those between a reborn Christians and their atheistic parents. They would be speaking almost different languages at first. Perhaps if they they kept talking, the parents might be convinced and even evolve a soul on the spot... or the younger generation could create a ritual to enable God to breathe a soul into the parents. Maybe a full emersion baptism where the new believer's head is held under water for full minute?

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