Msgr. Charles Pope continues his instructive series with a post on the problem of polygenism :
There is also another matter which the Theory of Evolution gives rise to that a Catholic must be aware of and realize that he or she cannot give it uncritical acceptance. This is the usual premise in evolutionary theory of polygenism. Polygenism is a theory of human origins positing that the human race descended from a pool of early human couples, indeterminate in number. Hence Adam and Eve are merely symbols of Mankind. Rather than being an historical couple, they represent the human race as it emerges from the hominids that gave rise to them as they become homo sapiens, properly speaking. This is opposite to the idea of monogenism , which posits a single origin of humanity in Adam and Eve. In this understanding, Adam and Eve are historical figures who actually existed and from them alone the whole of the human race is descended.
Polygenism is the proposed vision of almost all evolutionary theorists. It obviously flows from the theory. As life emerged from one-celled organisms, ultimately more complex forms of life arose to include fish, then reptiles, mammals, higher forms of mammals and early humanoid forms, and then the first homo sapiens . But, presumably this process did not occur only in one case. Rather, it is usually supposed that a larger, indeterminate number of this new species of Man arose. So what we had was an emergent group, rather than simply two individuals: Adam and Eve.
But this presents a problem for a Catholic who might wish to uncritically accept evolution, for, simply put, we cannot accept polygenism.
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