This is a question I have been asked. I have some thoughts on this but I don’t know the Catholic answer.
Why not? He certainly didn’t make Adam out of a monkey.
It is symbolic/allegorical. God is seen as the potter forming man from the earth. There are other references in the bible to God as potter and us as clay.
There is also the play on words, between 'adam in Hebrew = man, human beings and 'adama = ground.
Don’t forget, we are quite literally made of dust–stardust.
It’s more important to note that the Bible is scientifically correct, that we are made from the stuff of the Earth.
Because God makes the most of what is there and at this point this is all that was available? (I’m joking) Actually, in all seriousness, I love what ‘heidi_storage’ said about Stardust: Brilliant, literally! I really like that suggestion! In other words: life is a miracle! God bless.
This may or may not be the tradition I haven’t read into it enough.
But if you look at genesis, God forms man out of the dust of the earth, than breaths into him. This is a sign that man is more than just a body he also has a soul or a spirit. So creating man out of the dust shows that he has a body, the spirit breathing into him shows that he also has a soul.
And some additional points, to fill in the blanks concerning the allegorical use of dust in relationship to other allegories for clay, earthen vessels, pottery , et. al. :
God is indeed the potter, and we are indeed the clay, but we should not forget that dry dirt or dust cannot be made pliable enough to mold us into what God desires. What must be added to the dust to make clay is water. And, the water added is the living water of the Son.
And without fire, the clay made from the dust of the earth and the living waters of Christ, is fragile and temporary. It is the fire that turns clay into a permanent compound. The fire is earthly perseverance and persecution for the sake of Christ, and for the preparation to be worthy to enter heaven (Purgatory), if we are not in a perfect state of grace at our time of death.
Peace and all good!
It’s a pun. Adam(a).
There’s also scientific truth. Whether you believe in evolution or not, we’re still made of material from the earth.
There’s also spiritual truth. Whether God ever literally formed a man of dust and breathed into him, God still breathes life into us at our conception.
That’s great that you reject evolution, and all. But it’s a perfectly acceptable belief for Catholics, plenty of people on the CAF believe in (theistic) evolution, and I’m fairly certain our most recent popes have. Also:
“18 For the elements changed places with one another,
as on a harp the notes vary the nature of the rhythm,
while each note remains the same.
This may be clearly inferred from the sight of what took place.
19 For land animals were transformed into water creatures,
and creatures that swim moved over to the land.” (Wis 19:18-19)
That’s right, folks. The Bible implies the existence of evolution.
If I am not mistaken, evolution is a banned subject.
In a nutshell, a bunch of Church men gathered many, many centuries ago, and decided after thoughtful prayer and, no doubt, direct enlightenment by the Holy Ghost to declare that of all the fairy tales and fantasy in the book of Genesis, only the existence of Adam and Eve is for sure, the rest is futile poetry. God did not rest on the 7th day, because willing something into existence does not require much effort from the Master. If you think God was tired somehow, you’re guilty of anthropomorphism. But to avoid the pains of eternal separation from God, you must, as a Catholic, believe in the real existence of Adam and Eve, actual people in a sea of myths and ramblings.
That’s quite poetic, and according to some scientists, it may be actually true.
To get into a little science here. The heavier metals like the iron required for hemoglobin were forged in stars. As the dust from dead stars moved outward enough of it wound up as part of the Earth for us to have red blood cells that are able to transport oxygen atoms around to the cells that need it. (This being a very simplistic explanation of events.)
So we are all made (partially) of “star stuff”. Pretty cool.
Speaking solely from the position of Catholic authentic doctrines.
The playing field for determining the precise event of human origin has dramatically changed. Various “theistic” positions can actually challenge Catholic doctrines. The BioLogus Foundation has examples of substituting materialistic/physical/natural concepts and/or figurative solutions for the reality of one first sole true fully-complete human being known biblically as Adam. Adam is the product of the super-natural Creator and not merely an extension of natural material creatures studied in zoology.
At this time, in my humble opinion, it would be foolish to accept any “theistic” reasoning for human origin without first spending significant time studying the nitty-gritty. It has been my unfortunate experience to find out that there are some, not all, Catholics who still operate out of the 1930’s and 40’s. Apparently, they have not completely understood that Pius XII, in *Humani Generis, *was actually describing the future common ancestor population scientific theory that is an erroneous explanation for humankind according to Catholic teachings. Pius XII used the word “polygenism”. Humani Generis, sections, 35, 36, and 37.
So He could say “dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return”.
Because man is a created thing, from matter (i.e. dust). The life in man/humans began when God breathed His Spirit into that.
Many, many centuries ago, they likely just assumed the whole thing was true (though not always – Augustine thought that instantaneous creation was more likely and therefore regarded the six days as poetic, for example).
The reason that the real existence of Adam and Eve (or at least a single set of “first parents,” since the names and precise details of their story are not held as definitive doctrine) is so important is to safeguard the teaching on Original Sin, which has historically relied on the physical descent of every human from the first human sinner to explain our currently broken state.
I think it ought to be possible to reconcile polygenism with Original Sin – if both are true ideas about the universe, then it has to be possible – but there has not been a generally accepted solution yet. The common position among Catholics who wish to hold to Church teachings and the findings of biology is to posit that among a larger population of near-humans, there were two who were the first to be granted souls and therefore full consciousness. I’m sure there are problems with that, too, though.
I don’t think there are any problems with that. At some point, humans in whatever form, where able to go against the interests of their family, or themselves, or their tribe. Thus, a selfish action was introduced. This is not to say other creatures don’t have souls but rather not human souls in the sense of going against instincts. Maybe God gave these people a choice. Maybe the first two people endowed with the ability to make a choice, were able to due to being granted a fuller state of human consciousness. I am not saying I think this is true but just putting it out there. I think we try and render God’s actions and motives by our own surmising a lot of the time. If God created the Universe then I think it is well within His power to grant a fuller consciousness to a couple of beings, and therefore, greater responsibility for them to make a ‘choice’ - free will. It is not really that unthinkable if put in these terms. I personally think it does not matter because it is beyond ‘matter’. There are actual resources out there in order to find out probable reasons as to why these were written. St. Jerome’s Biblical Commentary being one of them. St. Augustine, as mentioned above, gave a great analysis of one of the Creation stories.
One of the main problems is that the accompanying theory explains that a soul or spirit substance emerges from our blood and guts.
Here are St. John Paul II words. Note that he uses the words “emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter,” This accompanying theory is opposed to Catholic teaching.
From the Address of Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (October 22, 1996) newadvent.org/library/docs_jp02tc.htm
- The Church’s magisterium is directly concerned with the question of evolution, for it involves the conception of man: Revelation teaches us that he was created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn 1:27-29). The conciliar constitution Gaudium et Spes has magnificently explained this doctrine, which is pivotal to Christian thought. It recalled that man is “the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake” (No. 24). In other terms, the human individual cannot be subordinated as a pure means or a pure instrument, either to the species or to society; he has value per se. He is a person. With his intellect and his will, he is capable of forming a relationship of communion, solidarity and self-giving with his peers. St. Thomas observes that man’s likeness to God resides especially in his speculative intellect, for his relationship with the object of his knowledge resembles God’s relationship with what he has created (Summa Theologica I-II:3:5, ad 1). But even more, man is called to enter into a relationship of knowledge and love with God himself, a relationship which will find its complete fulfillment beyond time, in eternity. All the depth and grandeur of this vocation are revealed to us in the mystery of the risen Christ (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22). It is by virtue of his spiritual soul that the whole person possesses such a dignity even in his body. Pius XII stressed this essential point: If the human body take its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God (“animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides nos retinere iubei”; “Humani Generis,” 36). Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person.