After converting from agnosticism to Christianity I at times felt that Adam and Eve are not to be taken literally since I have long believed in some form of evolution. I especially questioned them when I learned that genetic records show that the human population was never below 10,000. However, after learning about Hylemorphic dualism from reading Edward Feser’s work I have come to take them literally.
I view the first few chapters of Genesis much as I do Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” as both have elements of poetic form. Tennyson’s poem is about a real British cavalry unit in the Crimean War, and discusses their real ill-fated charge. In much the same way Genesis poetically deals with the heart of the Creator as he forms the universe and life. This is not a science textbook that explains how God did it—it is science’s job to write that book. Much like Tennyson’s poem deals with a real cavalry unit, Genesis deals with a real Adam and Eve.
The idea of Hylemorphic dualism is that God used evolution to form proto-humans. These proto-humans are genetically identical to humans and have the highly evolved nervous systems that we do. Then God took two proto-humans, Adam and Eve, and gave them human souls which enabled them to do higher order thinking and use rational inference. The combination of the proto-human body and the human soul made the first true humans—the rational animals. The progeny of Adam and Eve began reproducing with the proto-humans and God gave their offspring a human soul to make them humans. Since humans have the ability to do higher order thinking they had a selective advantage over proto-humans and eventually the proto-humans were assimilated into humans.