Formed From the Dust

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The cosmos is not eternal because it is slowly dying. It is running out of usable energy. Matter is not eternal. Indeed, most stars take millions of years to die. Stars die because they exhaust their nuclear fuel.

God is the creator and sustainer of all life, from the first life form to each of us. How life came from non-life is still largely a scientific mystery. Genesis 2:7 tells us that, “God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” This language is figurative because we know from other Bible passages that God is Spirit with neither hands nor lungs.

God used pre-existing materials when he created Adam. God used all the cells, DNA, atoms, molecules, hydrogen, protons, neutrons, or electrons to create Adam. Adam is described as being formed from the dust of the ground—an image of lowness.

God is the source of life. He gives life to all things (Genesis 1:11-28). The life that God gave to humans was different from that which he gave to animals. Adam also has been breathed into by God—an image of glory. As a living being, he has a special relationship to God by virtue of the divine spirit. In other words, he is a combination of natural material and life-giving power from God.

Some Christian leaders saw good reasons to believe that humanity’s physical form was descended from other animals. According to John Stott, “Adam’s body may well have evolved from hominids.” (Essentials, 1988, p. 97)  It is hard to say just when hominids became biblical humans. Does it really matter how God created Adam?

In I Corinthians 15:22-23 and 45-49, the Apostle Paul is dealing with physical death. In I Corinthians 15:45-49, Paul associates human mortality with the creation of Adam, not with his fall. In other words, Adam was not born immortal. For more information, please read Gordon Fee’s comments on I Corinthians 15:45 (The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1987, p. 789). Then, Adam sinned against God. His spiritual death (alienation from God) was a penalty of his disobedience. His mortality will be reversed only with the bodily resurrection.

All humans share in Adam’s natural mortality. People born before the giving of the law in Exodus, were evildoers but did not break the law. They died spiritually as a consequence of their evil doings. Others, born after the given of the law, die spiritually as a penalty of their sins.

Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead during his earthly ministry. Yet, he never blamed human mortality on Adam. He explained that God could work through illness, natural disaster, and death and also used them to call people to repentance (Luke 13:1-5; John 9:1-3, 11:3-4).  Please note that Jesus, though sinless, had a mortal body that could be killed. He did not die as a consequence of personal sin. He died physically on the cross as a penalty of human sins.  Jesus took our place to die on Good Friday.  He brought life through death (Colossians 1:15-20).

God created humans to have a personal relationship with them. Humans depend on God for both physical and spiritual life. After the fall of humans, God provided the way of redemption and salvation through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-8). What was lost at the fall is reclaimed on the cross. Romans 5:12-21 tells us that spiritual death is reversed by Jesus’ atoning death on the cross and our justification through faith. For more information, please read Q & A #652 “Death and Punishment” (Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig, October 13, 2019).

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