The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
- Book 2: God the Creator
- Section 2: The Divine work of Creation
- Chapter 2: The Doctrine of the Revelation regarding Man or “Christian Anthropology”
- The Nature of Man
- The Origin of the First Human Pair and the Unity of the Human Race
- Origin of the First Man
- The First Man was created by God. (De fide.)
- The 4th Lateran and the Vatican Council declared: The creative deed, by which
God called the first man into existence, is to be conceived in regard to the soul as creatio
prima, in regard to the body as creatio secunda
- The materialistic theory of evolution, according to which man as to his whole
being, both body and soul, developed mechanically from the animal kingdom, is to be rejected.
The soul of the first man was created immediately by God out of nothing.
- The Encyclical “Humani generis” of Pius XII (1950) lays down that the question
of the origin of the human body is open to free research by natural scientists and theologians.
He insists on the careful weighing of the pros and cons of the grounds for its origination …
and warns the faithful against the assumption that discoveries up to the present determine and
prove the origin of the human body from an organic stuff, and points out that in this question,
the need for the greatest reserve and care emerges from the sources of Revelation.
- Holy Writ contains a double account of the creation of the first man.
- “God created man to His own image. To the image of God He created him. Male
and female He created them.” (Genesis 2:7) “And the Lord God formed man out of the slime of
the earth and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
- According to the immediate, literal sense, God created the body of the first
man immediately out of inorganic material (“from the slime of the earth”) and vivified it by
breathing into it a spiritual soul. The idea that the spiritual soul was created in an animal
body is foreign to the letter of Holy Writ and to the Fathers.
- While the fact of the creation of man by God in the literal sense must be
closely adhered to, in the question as to the mode and manner of the formation of the human
body, an interpretation which diverges from the strict literal sense, is, on weighty grounds,
- According to Gn. 2:21 et seq., the body of the first woman was formed from
the body of the first man. Gn. 2:22: “And the Lord God built the rib which He took from Adam
into a woman.” This account, which is starkly anthropomorphistic, was understood by the
generality of the Fathers in the literal sense…According to a decision of the Bible
Commission the literal historical sense is to be adhered to in regard to the formation of the
first woman out of the first man…However, the saying is and remains mysterious.
- The Fathers concur in teaching that God immediately created the first man,
both as to body and to soul. They see symbolised in the manner of Eve’s creation the essential
assimilation of the woman to the man, the Divine inauguration of marriage, and the origin of
the Church and of the Sacraments from the wound in the side of Christ, the second Adam.
- Unity of the Human Race
- The whole human race stems from one single human pair. (Sent. certa.)
- The Church teaches that the first human beings, Adam and Eve, are the progenitors
of the whole human race (monogenism). The teaching of the unity of the human race is not, indeed,
a dogma, but it is a necessary pre-supposition of the dogma of Original Sin and Redemption.
According to a decision of the Bible Commission, the unity of the human race is to be reckoned
among those facts which affect the foundations of the Christian religion, and which, on this
account, are to be understood in their literal, historical sense.
- We may note that racial differences affect external characteristics only.
The essential agreement of all races in physical structure and in mental endowment indicates a
- The Natural and the Supernatural Aim of Man
- God has conferred on man a supernatural Destiny. (De fide.)
- The Vatican Council establishes the absolute necessity of Revelation by
reason of man’s ordination to a supernatural final end. Man’s final end consists in a
participation by him in God’s Vision of Himself. The attainment of this end by men gives
glory to God and fills men with supernatural happiness.
- The Essential Constituent Parts of Human Nature
- Two Essential Constituent Parts of Man
- Man consists of two essential parts—a material body and a spiritual
soul. (De fide.)
- In opposition to the teaching of the Church is the exaggerated spiritualism
of Plato and of the School of Origen, according to which the body is a burden and hindrance
to the soul, its prison and grave. In Plato’s view the soul alone makes the man, while the
body is only a kind of shadow. The Church teaches on the contrary that the body essentially
belongs to human nature.
- When St. Paul speaks (Romans 7:14 et seq.) of a conflict between the body and
the soul, and when he longs to be freed from the body of death (Romans 7:24) he is not thinking
of the body in its physical construction, but in its condition of moral disorder occasioned by
- According to the teaching of Holy Scripture, man is composed of two essential
component parts, and will again be resolved into two parts.
- “And the Lord God formed man out of the slime of the earth, and breathed
in his face the breath of life and man became a living soul.” (Genesis. 2:7)
- Relation of Body and Soul
- The rational soul is per se the essential form of the body. (De fide.)
- Body and soul are connected with each other, not merely externally like a
vessel and its contents, a ship and its pilot, but as an intrinsic natural unit, so that the
spiritual soul is of itself and essentially the form of the body.
- The Fathers conceive the attachment of body and soul as such an intrinsic
one that they compare it to the Hypostatic Union.
- St. Augustine teaches: “From the soul the body has feeling and life”
- Individuality and Immortality of the Soul
- Every human being possesses an individual soul. (De fide.)
- Natural reason proves the immortality of the soul from its physical simplicity.
As it is not composed of parts, it cannot be resolved into parts. God could, it is true,
annihilate the soul, but His Wisdom and Goodness demand that He should not frustrate the
connatural desire of the soul for truth and bliss in the other world, just as His Justice
demands that He reward the good and punish the wicked in the other world.
- The Origin of Individual Human Souls
- In the posterity of Adam, the origin of the soul is associated with natural
generation. As to the mode and manner of the origin of the soul different opinions have been
- Pre-existentianism, which was proposed by Plato, and was accepted by Origen
and individual members of his disciples, as well as by the Priscillianists, teaches that souls
exist even before their connection with the bodies and are exiled in bodies, as a punishment
for moral defect. This doctrine was rejected by a Synod at Constantinople (543) against the
Origenists, and by a Synod at Braga against the Priscillianists.
- According to the testimony of Holy Writ,
- The first man created by God was good in soul and body (Genesis 1:31).
- Sin entered the world through the fall by sin of our first parents
(Genesis. 3:1, Romans 5:12))
- St. Paul directly excluded a pre-corporeal fall through sin: “For when
the children were not yet born, nor had done any good or evil.”
- The Fathers, with very few exceptions, are opponents of the doctrine of
pre-existence upheld by Origen.
- The testimony of self-consciousness testifies against the pre-existence
of the soul.
- Emanationism is an idea certain religious or philosophical systems by which
all things are derived from the first reality, or principle. All things are derived from the
first reality, or perfect God, by steps of degradation to lesser degrees of the first reality
or God, and at every step the emanating beings are less pure, less perfect, less divine.
- The teaching contradicts the absolute simplicity of God. It was rejected
by the Vatican Council as heretical.
- St. Augustine says: “The soul is not a part of God; for if it were then
it would be in every respect unchangeable and indestructible.” (Ephesians. 166, 2, 3)
- Generationism traces the origin of the human soul, as well as the origin of
the body, back to the act of generation performed by the parents. According to it, parents
are the originators of both body and soul.
- Generationism is incompatible with the simplicity and spirituality of the
soul. Pope Benedict XII demanded the condemnation of the doctrine of generationism as a
pre-condition of the Union, from the Armenians. Leo XIII condemned the teaching of Rosmini.
- Every individual soul was immediately created out of nothing by
God. (Sent. certa.
- Creationism, taught by the vast majority of the Fathers by the Schoolmen,
and by modern theology, holds that each individual soul is created by God out of nothing at
the moment of its unification with the body. This doctrine is not defined; it is, however,
indirectly expressed in the decision of faith of the 5th General Lateran Council
- Pope Pius XII, in the Encyclical “Humani generis,” teaches “The Catholic
Faith obliges us to hold firmly that souls are immediately created by God”
- A stringent scriptural proof of the doctrine of creationism is not possible.
However, it is intimated in “The Spirit returns to God Who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7)
- Most of the Fathers, especially the Greek, are adherents of creationism.
While St. Jerome decisively advocates creationism, St. Augustine wavered all his life between
generationism and creationism. The difficulty of reconciling the immediate creation of the
soul by God with the handing-on of original sin held him back from a decisive confession of
- In the following centuries, under the influence of St. Augustine, a certain
indecision continued up to the period of the peak of scholasticism when creationism found a
general recognition. St. Thomas went so far as to condemn generationism as heretical.