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Don Stewart :: How Was Adam Created?

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Don Stewart
In a famous passage we are told that Adam was created from the dust of the earth.

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 (Genesis 2:7).

In Genesis 1:27 we are told that God created man. The verb to create is the Hebrew bara. In Genesis 2:7 the Bible says God formed man (Hebrew asah). Since both of these verses speak of God creating man, we find that man was both created and formed. God created Adam by using pre-existing material. The word translated form is used in Scripture of the work of a potter forming his clay.

Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the pots of the earth. Shall the clay say to him who forms (asah) it, What are you making? (Isaiah 45:9).

Dust To Dust

The Hebrew has a play of words in Genesis 2:7. The word translated man is the Hebrew word adam while the word translated dust of the earth is the Hebrew word adamah. This emphasizes that the origin of humankind is from the earth. After the Fall, this was also emphasized by God as He told Adam.

In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of dust you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19).


Abraham realized his body was made from the dust.

Then Abraham answered and said, Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord (Genesis 18:27).

The Book of Job speaks of mankind returning to dust.

All flesh would perish together, and humanity would return to dust (Job 34:15).

The New Testament also reminds us that we have come from the dust of the earth.

And so it is written, The first man Adam became a living being . . . The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly (1 Corinthians 15:45,47,48).

Breath Of Life

Man was not only formed from the dust of the earth, God also breathed the breath of life into him. This is what separates humankind from all other creatures. Man became a living being only after he had been formed from the dust of the ground and God breathed life into him. This twofold process is also emphasized in the Book of Job by Elihu as he speaks to Job.

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life . . . Truly I am as your spokesman before God; I also have been formed out of clay (Job 33:4-6).

The New Testament also emphasizes that God gives all humankind the breath of life. The Apostle Paul said of God:

Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things (Acts 17:25).

Common Features With Animals

Though the Bible says that both humankind (Genesis 2:7) and animals (Genesis 2:19) were created from the ground only humankind was made in God's image. This should teach us that we should find things that we have in common with the animal kingdom, and certain areas in which we differ.

Adam's Intelligence

We can infer from the biblical account that Adam had superior intelligence. Immediately upon his creation he had fully-developed language capabilities. He could speak well enough to communicate with God and also to name all the animals. In addition, he could also remember their names. He had enough intelligence to rule over the rest of creation.

We must recall that Adam was created in an unfallen state with the ability to access all of his potential brain power.

Theistic Evolution

The direction creation of Adam deals a death blow to the idea of Theistic Evolution. Theistic Evolution teaches that God took a subhuman and developed him into a human. According to this theory, God supposedly took one of the apelike creatures that was around at the time and breathed into him the breath of life. Adam, therefore, was a male apelike creature whom God made into a man by breathing His spirit into him. Physically he was the same as the other apelike creatures, but spiritually he was now different.

God Formed Man

But Genesis 2:7 clearly says that God formed man out of the dust of the earth. Dust does not mean a subhuman creature. Add to this the fact that Scripture says that man would return to the same substance he was made out of when he dies. We have seen that the Scriptures consistently say that man will return to dust because he was made out of dust. If Theistic Evolution were true, then man would have to return not to dust but to some apelike creature!

Denial Of Death

Furthermore, Theistic evolution must also deny that death resulted from sin. If humankind descended from animals, then death already would have been in existence. Sin would not have caused humankind's death because death would have been the norm for all creatures that existed.


Contrary to Theistic evolution, Adam was a special creation of God made from the dust of the earth. He was created by God-formed out of the ground. God then breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living being. There is no hint of Theistic evolution in this process.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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