The Dust of the Earth

I realized this morning what a primitive idea I had of how God formed Adam out of the dust of the earth. Here’s the verse in the NASB: Gen 2:7 – Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Without really thinking about it, I guess I had a picture of God scooping up a handful of dirt, making mud out of it and fashioning it into some sort of super-realistic Gumby doll, then blowing the breath of life into its nostrils.

Funny, how we just gloss over things sometimes without really thinking them through. Let’s think about this one.

Remember Carl Sagan’s famous line in The Cosmos, “We’re made of star-stuff”? Did anyone laugh at that? No, scientists who hold to the Big Bang believe that the universe was once nothing but hydrogen, then hydrogen and helium and that mainly through subsequent supernovae, that is the explosion that accompanies the death of some stars all the elements of the universe were created. Those scientists who are strict naturalists, believing that nature is all there is, then go on to say that evolution formed us out of stardust, the elements created as the result of these star explosions.

So what is so different about being taught that we are formed out of star dust by evolution and that we are formed out of earth dust by God? Not much really, the main difference is not in what dust we are made of but who did the forming — random chance or a super-intelligent eternal being with unlimited knowledge and power. My vote is for the latter.

So, back to the original Gumby image. This is apparently poetic, figurative language to describe man being formed out of the elements of creation and receiving a soul through the direct action of God. How did He do it? I am not sure. I think about the verse that God knit us together in our mother’s womb. That is surely poetic, figurative language (no knitting needles involved) to describe the real truth that we are creations of a God intimately involved with his creation. The Bible is full of poetic images that communicate real truth. Bible believers should not worry about describing Genesis 2:7 as poetic truth.

Whether we are the product of random chance in a universe that simply popped into being out of nothing or the special creation of a caring, directly involved God makes a tremendous difference in the meaning of life and our destiny when our last breath has been drawn. That’s the real point. How God whipped up Adam out of earth elements is a mystery probably beyond the reach of science. I am just glad that I am not beyond the reach of a God of wonders that is connected in a caring way to his creation.