Genesis: Creation of Man

I was talking to a Christian friend today about how I believe in both the Bible and Evolution.

He asked me how I create a harmony between Evolution and Genesis 2:7:
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

I explained that “from the dust of the ground” can merely mean “from the earth”, that we’re made of matter and we’re creatures of the earth (My belief, unless an alternative view can be offered).

However, it seems to say that man was “formed”, had “nostrils” and was made “a living being” all in the same few minutes. Doesn’t this seem to create a “God-snaps-His-fingers-and-it-happens” scenario, which is impossible to have harmony with Evolution?

The problem of course is in interpretation. If your friend maintains a literal- scientific interpretation of Genesis, it is not really possible to find harmony. So, I would reply that harmony is found in seeing God’s purpose in those verses as telling us about God, about creation, and about our place in that creation, and not about the mechanics. Such a view also allows you to harmonize the creation story in Genesis 1 with the creation story in Genesis 2 without worrying about the differences.

It says that we’re “made of the dust of the ground”

Is that statement true or false? In general, that is. I know science claims we’re made of “star dust” but this is claiming we’re made of “Earth dust”, if you will.

Ecclesiastes says we (and the animals) come from dust and to dust we return. So, my answer would be yes, it is true, whether done in a short process or a longer process. No matter for God who stands outside as well as in time. Tome the more troubling aspect of an instantaneous or near so creation is the neurologic and developmental aspects. Adam made of dust de novo would also have all his mental and social ability preprogrammed in by God, so how do you get away from that making God responsible for his actions? Any thoughts?

Ultimately I’d agree with you, if God made Adam instantaneously without a childhood or any knowledge, he’d be either mentally retarded or mentally preprogrammed.

You think we’re made of dust? But, we’re quite obviously not dust, so I’m concerns as to how that makes any sense. We’re oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other elements; but not dust.

In short, what does it mean that we’re “made of dust”?

And yet what is dust? To us we can analyze house dust, and find pollen, spores cat dander, fabric fibers and the such, bur no rational person would say they are made of cat dander and pollen. It is obviously saying we are from the created substance of the earth, Other verses tell of us being shaped from clay, which is a bit different but gives the same message of being formed from humble beginnings and shaped by the Creator. I feel neither example is literal, and it misses the point to take a literal position.


Heb aphar = dust, clay, ash.

Even Genesis itself recognises the food cycle: plants grow from the earth, animals eat the soil, man eats the plants or the animals but, dying, eventually becomes soil for the plants.

The old Yorkshire song On Ilkeley Moor bar t’hat (without a hat) puts it pithily (in English translation!):

Thou art bound to catch thy death of cold,
The we shall have to bury thee,
Then worms will come and eat thee up,
The ducks will come and eat up worms,
Then we shall go and eat up ducks,
Then we shall all have eaten thee.

That’s my understanding, but I’m unhappy with the idea that it would have been impossible for God to create Adam miraculously without all kinds of theological mischief occurring. After all, he created the mature wine from water at Cana, and taught the apostles to speak in languages they’d never learned, presumably affecting their brains appropriately. I feel we should always be careful to prove gradualism or evolution from slam-sunk arguments that somehow weren’t noticed during intensive examination by 2 millennia of Christian scholars, and Jewish ones before that!

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Why would you think a story couldn’t be written in a way that isn’t literally true?

Do you think Samson literally had magical hair?

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