Yeah, can you believe someone actually made a movie about dirt? I started watching it the other day, but didn’t have time to finish it. The filmmakers and the interviewees shared some very interesting insights about the ground beneath our feet.

Did you catch the one guy in the trailer who said, “We are dirt”? As a matter of fact, fertile top soil contains pretty much all the building blocks of human life–carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, water, and various other elements and minerals. When any living organism dies, it is broken back down into these fundamental elements to become…dirt.

[This is where I’ll throw in this week’s eco-tip: Composting! Is simple, it’s green, and it will help replenish parched dirt or fertilize your own gardens. For some helpful ways to get started, check out these websiteshowtocompost.orgcomposting101.comcompostguide.com]

When God made humans, Genesis 2:7 says that He formed man out of the dust of the earth. When a person is dead, they are molecularly the same as when they were alive. Yet, the moment their heart stops beating, their bodies begin the decomposition process, which turns them back into dirt. It’s really the breath that makes all the difference.

God formed the first man from the dust of the earth, and then He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Breath. It’s a simple, unconscious action that we take for granted. We can live without water for a few days and without food for a few weeks. Yet we can only live a few minutes without breath. That breath you just took is the most essential thing we take into our bodies.

Okay….duh? So what’s the point?

In nearly every ancient language, be it Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, etc., the word for breath is the same word for spirit. English has two different words – spirit and breath. Yet to ancient peoples, spirit and breath were the same. When a person died, their spirit and their breath had departed from them. We think of it as a double meaning, yet to them, it was the same. It is the spirit that sustains life. Our physical bodies cannot survive apart from our spirits.

So what is it that separates us from dirt? Our spirits. The breath we just took is a taste of the divine, it is a gift from God. It is a physical manifestation of our spiritual reality. Apart from God’s Spirit, we have no true life in our bodies. The same held true in the valley of dry bones found in Ezekiel 37. And again, the same language is used in Acts 2 when the Spirit of God fills the room like a violent wind.

Breath is essential for our bodies to survive. But it is just as essential that our lives be filled with the breath of God. If not, then “all we are is dust in the wind.”

On Creation

Right from the start of Genesis, we see that God is a creator, a craftsman. He made the earth with purpose and intentionality. Therefore, everything He creates has meaning and value.

Next, we see that God does not rule from afar. He enters the darkness and faces the chaos head on. Redemption is embedded in the very fabric of creation.

Now it’s time for a bit of a side note. If you were like me, you probably sang as a child some little song about the days of creation. “Day one, day one, God made light when there was none…”

But then something happened. As I grew older, I started learning more about the “science” behind “creation.” Apparently, sometime in the last hundred years or so, believing in a young earth and the literal 24 hour days of creation became a major tenant of the Christian faith. For some, at least.

I was taught that the 6 days of creation were exactly 144 hours. No more. No less. To suggest otherwise was borderline heresy. I was also taught that the earth was not any more than 6,000 years old, and science could prove it. Carbon dating and the fossil record just had to be wrong because they didn’t support what the Bible obviously claims to be fact.

Before you go grabbing your torches and pitchforks, let me just say that I truly believe the God absolutely has the power to create an entire universe in 144 hours. He very well could have created the earth to look older than it actually is, just as he created Adam and Eve as adults and not babies.

Here’s my word of caution: Genesis 1 is a poem.

Let me say it again so it sinks in. The opening chapter of the Bible is POETRY. It’s not historical narrative like the rest of Genesis. It’s not a section of the Law, like Leviticus. It’s poetry, like the Psalms.

I think it’s really cool how Rob Bell breaks down this poem in his video Everything is Spiritual.

Is my faith threatened by the theory of evolution? Nope. Do I feel the need to take up arms against proponents of the big bang? Not at all.

Here’s why: I look around and I see how much science has changed over the last thousand years. We went from thinking the earth was flat and the center of the universe to putting men on the moon. Every year, scientists and researchers are discovering new and better information than we previously had. Scientific “facts” are always changing and evolving. Things we took for granted 100 years ago have shifted and taken on new forms. How much more so in the next 100, 500, or 1000 years?

And yet Genesis 1 will always say, “Let there be light.”

God has given human beings the capacity to explore our world and the universe around us. If he made it all, then why would he be threatened by anything we discover or by any new theories we might develop along the way?

Genesis 1 is a poem, the true depth of which is far greater than 144 hours of creation or the young earth theory. It is a poem about power, community, empowerment, and love.