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Picture of DNA which is Salt and Dust in the Bible

Salt, Dust, Light, and Water in the Bible

Study of Salt, Dust, Water, & Light in Bible

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The Study of Salt, Dust, Water, and Light in the Bible

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Studying Salt, Dust, Water, and Light in the Bible
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Studying Salt, Dust, Water, & Light in Scripture

S T O S S Books

Studying Salt, Dust, Water & Light in Scripture

S T O S S Books

Salt, Dust, Water & Light in Scripture

Salt, Dust, Water & Light in Scripture

What is salt, dust, and stone in the Bible
In Scripture, DNA is both dust and salt
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Is DNA specifically mentioned in the Bible?
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Salt, dust, and stone equal DNA
Mitochondrial Eve & eye

Is DNA in the Bible?

"We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.)."--Watson, et al.

What is the Meaning of Dust & Salt in Scripture?[1]

Over and over again in Scripture, the embodied soul, i.e. man, is referred to as some sort of dust, stone, or salt. In fact, whenever we encounter salt, dust, clay/mud, and stone (a much larger size of dust) in Scripture, I believe it would be wise, maybe even necessary, to include in our consideration of each passage’s meaning, the knowledge we will gain in this section. God is showing all of us that the Bible is not anti-science. In fact, it actually teaches us science. Once again, we are able to see that Scripture could not have been written by mere men, absent Divine inspiration. Neither Moses, nor any of the other writers of Scripture, could have imagined, in their wildest dreams, the science of salt and dust discussed below. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 it reads, at our bodily death "the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." This helps to refute the idea that salt and dust in Scripture are purely symbolic. This passage specifically refers to the very essence of rational man. We are, in fact, body (dust/salt) and spiritual soul and the two are only separated (until the resurrection) at our bodily death. By the way, thanks to Julio R. for pointing out this passage. It is very illustrative of the topic at hand.
All rocks and, therefore, stones (which come from rocks) are formed from two or more minerals (minerals are generally defined as inorganic solids that have a crystalline structure).[2] Some minerals are composed of only one element listed in the Periodic Table. Others are mixed with other elements, such as aluminum, silicon, sodium, and magnesium.[3] Some elemental minerals are classified as metallic, e.g. gold, silver, and copper. The minerals of sodium[4] and potassium[5] are both elemental alkali metals that combine with the phosphate minerals of the DNA backbone (the two “sides” of the double helix “ladder”) to make it a salt — a salt that is also dust/stone. Furthermore, DNA itself has a crystalline structure,[6] as do all minerals. In fact, it was X-ray crystallography which showed the “B” form of DNA was in the shape of a double helix.[7]
Our DNA is a bonded collection of very, very small stones — dare I say dust — held together by electrically charged ions and surrounded by dynamically structured molecules of water. One microbiologist tells us that DNA by itself, absent any of the other biological systems that make for a living cell, is nothing more than a “rock”.[8] That’s right — dust! Let’s recall the words of God to Adam: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). Dust/stone is nothing more than pieces of rock that have been separated and gradually worn down to very, very, small mineral crystals, i.e. stones, which are the size of dust.[9] More specific to man in Scripture is the use of the word “clay”. St. Hildegard of Bingen writes, “Out of clay God so shaped humanity that through this tiny spark of the soul we become flesh and blood out of clay.”[10] Clay is composed of two primary substances: A) dust that is even finer than silt, i.e. 2 microns (aka micrometer; two-thousandths of a millimeter) or less;[11] and, B) water. Considering the size of our DNA (the nuclear volume of an entire sperm cell containing an entire molecule of DNA, is only about 30 microns[12]). Consequently, the use of clay to identify man's body in Scripture is significant. In order for clay to be mold-able (the technical term is “plastic”), which is scripturally symbolic of a biologically and spiritually alive human person (e.g. Num. 5:16-17; Job 10:9; Is. 64:6-8; Rom. 9:20-24), it must contain water within its mix. Water plays a critical role in how our dust of DNA functions.[13] Our bodies — including Jesus’ body — are made up entirely of cells which contain within their nucleus, the biological stone/dust/clay of DNA and biological water. Incidentally, how biological water functions within the human body is nothing short of mind-boggling. One scientist described water as the most amazing substance in the universe.  

Other Bible Passages Connecting Dust to DNA  

Some might hypothesize that dust is purely symbolic of the need for man to be humble. While it is true that Scripture uses our humble origin to symbolize our need to be humble, it does not negate Scripture’s inextricably linking the dust of the earth together with the salt/dust of DNA. In Genesis 2:18-19 we read, “The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him. So the LORD God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air [emphasis SML].” Clearly, wild animals and birds of the air are not in need of the virtue of humility. This passage is informing us that all organic life is made from the dust of the earth. St. Hildegard of Bingen was informed by God that ““Of all the strengths of God's creation, Man's is most profound, made in a wondrous way with great glory from the dust of the earth and so entangled with the strengths of the rest of creation that he can never be separated from them [emphasis SML].” [St. Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias, (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1990), 98.]
God is not being figurative when we are told that ALL biologically living creatures (man, beasts, birds, etc.) are made of dust (Gen. 2:7, 2:19, and 3:19)! As we shall see later, science confirms this to be true. When we die, we decompose into dust. In Sirach it is written, “The Lord created man out of earth, and turned him back to it again” (Sir. 1:5). We also read in Scripture, “Remember that thou hast made me of clay; and wilt thou turn me to dust again” (Job 10:9)? If one interprets Genesis quite literalistically, one would have to conclude that only Adam could have been made from actual geological dust — dust of the earth (I will suggest an alternative interpretation in my blog here).
For all the rest of us, there are at least two people (our biological mother and father) who can vouch for the fact that we did not receive our dust from the dirt in our parents garden. I'm pretty sure God did not wake up Sarah's soon-to-be parents, telling them, come with me to the garden and watch this ... you're gonna love it! Then He proceeds with the words: Hocus Pocus, arise from this dirt, baby Sarah. Quite to the contrary, for all the rest of us (I talk about Eve elsewhere in this website), our body was made through one event, and one event only — the union of a sperm cell (with the exception of Jesus) and an egg cell (with the exception of Eve), both of which contain the dust/salt of DNA. Everything we are, from the physical body perspective, came from the sperm and egg — and only the sperm and egg. The only material in either of those two cells that could be called dust, is the dust/salt of DNA. If you’re wondering about the cell material (e.g. cell membranes, etc.) in which the DNA resides … nope ... not salt, not dust! The structural material of the cell is composed of lipids embedded with proteins (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_membrane). Therefore, only the DNA can be identified as dust. Recall that Scripture tells us we are made from the dust of the earth (cf. Gen. 2:7, 3:19, 18:27; Tobit 3:6; Job 10:9; Eccl. 3:20; and many others) and we will return to dust. Ergo, Scripture, once again, verifies the fact that our salt of DNA is also dust, i.e. very small stones, but stones, nonetheless.
To my way of thinking, the above argument constitutes an open-and-shut case. I cannot conceive of how Scripture passages equating man with dust can refer to anything else but the salt/dust of DNA.[14] Let’s look at some passages that link inorganic salt/dust/stone with organic salt/dust/stone:
1) Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread. Satan is evil, but he is not stupid. He would not tempt Jesus this way unless he knew Jesus could do it (Lk. 4:3, Mt. 4:3);
2) God turned dust into gnats (Ex. 8:16-17);
3) God tells us he could turn stones into children of Abraham, i.e. members of the Chosen nation (Mt. 3:9, Lk. 3:8), Jews who would be in the image and likeness of God … dust of the earth;
4) The rebuilt Temple (Jesus’ body, per John 2:19-21) is referred to as the ‘cornerstone’ (same material, but a much larger version of dust) of the Temple (1 Pt. 2:6);
5) Peter tells us, "Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pt. 2:4-5). Note that we are described as "living stones";
6) Multiple linkages made between man and mud/clay (e.g. Is. 64:8; Job 10:9, 33:6; Rom 9:21; Jn 9:11; and many more) .and;
7) In Rev. 2:12-17, we read about the church at Pergamum. The people of this church are told, “To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.” So, what was it that the Spirit wanted this particular church to conquer? Interestingly, none of the other churches were promised a white stone if they conquered their sinfulness. The sin of the church at Pergamum was fornication, both of the flesh and of the spirit. We know this because of the reference to the “teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak.” In order to make God angry with the Israelites, Balaam taught Balak to place stumbling blocks (I am assuming the symbolic stumbling blocks were also stone / dust) before them. So Balak employed some of the most beautiful women in his kingdom to lure the men into unclean fleshly and spiritual acts, i.e. sexual intercourse and idolatry[15] (which is considered as an adulterous relationship against God’s covenant with Israel) The stumbling blocks were the DNA/salt/dust/stone bodies of beautiful and desirous women. This is why the Spirit informs them of the white stone. He is telling them, if the men conquer their “lust of the flesh” (impure stone/dust), then, at the resurrection, their bodies will be raised from the dead, be glorified, and become as pure as snow (as clean as a white stone).[16]
In the Old Testament, there are many passages that contain seemingly contradictory connotations about the meaning of salt. However, when you understand that salt in the Bible is also a concrete reality, those connotations transform into a unified understanding that opens Scripture up for a deeper understanding of the Word of God.
Here are some examples of the bad connotations. In Psalms, we read, "He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants" (Ps.107:33-34). In Deuteronomy, it is written, "… see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the Lord has made it sick - the whole land brimstone and salt [referencing Lot's wife and the Dead/Salt Sea], and a burnt-out waste, unsown, and growing nothing, where no grass can sprout …" (Deut. 29:22-23). There are many more, but you get the picture.
Now let’s look at some passages conveying a good connotation. In 2 Kgs. 2:19-22, Elisha purifies the bad water of the city by pouring salt from a new bowl into it. This would seem to be counterintuitive, since salt normally contaminates water. (remember the whole Lot's wife thing at the Dead Sea). The new bowl symbolizes Jesus' body. The fact that it is a new bowl from which the purifying water is poured signifies that it does not symbolize Jesus' mortal body, but his glorified body, the body that has been resurrected from the dead. Scripture reads, "I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts; and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering." (Mal. 1: 10-11), What is this incense that is a pure offering? In Exodus we read, "Make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy" (Ex. 30:34-35). This sweet incense is made only for God. In fact, he tells Moses that anyone using it for their personal use will be cut off from God's people. What is being offered? It is "salt, pure and holy." This is the same salt with which Elisha purifies the bad water.
It is worth noting that all the bad connotations of salt in Scripture stop with the resurrection of Jesus. This is when the new and final Covenant of Salt starts. This leads us to the concrete meaning of salt in Scripture. The bad connotations are referring to the, as yet non-redeemed, fallen salt of DNA of Adam and his descendants. The good connotations refer to our Savior's salt of DNA ... and ours when we become members of the Mystical Body of Christ through Baptism. Luke writes, "And eating together with them, he commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition). Pope Benedict places great significance on the wording that Luke chose when talking about Jesus' eating with them. According to Benedict, the word that Luke used is synalizômenos. Benedict tells us this particular wording is very important to Luke; that he must have deliberately chosen to employ it. The literal translation of the phrase in question is "eating salt with them." Benedict interprets this interpretation as a reference to the Eucharist (see Jn. 6:26-71, 1 Cor. 11:26-30, and others) which is the body, blood, soul, and Divinity of Jesus ("Jesus of Nazareth Part Two, Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection" (Kindle Locations 3436 - 3437). Ignatius Press).  
All the OT Jews had to add salt to all their offerings to God. That which was being offered was already unblemished, so it would symbolize Jesus' offering of his body on the cross. Therefore, the added salt represents us. More specifically, our body. We have to join Jesus on the cross (via the Eucharist) as a pure and acceptable offering to our Father (recall Mal. and Ex. above). I could go on and on, but this is already a long post. I spend almost the entire first volume of The Science & Theology of Salt in Scripture making the case that in Scripture, God intended that salt, dust, and stone be interpreted as our dust/salt of DNA. I also begin laying the groundwork for an understanding why.

Biological versus Geological Terminology

When I first realized that salt and dust in Scripture refer to the salt and dust of DNA, I was shocked and puzzled at the same time. I couldn't understand why someone in the scientific community had not already discovered this. Only recently, in a discussion with a biologist, was I able to discover what I believe to be the reason. The main problem arises in the two separate scientific disciplines and terminologies that are relative to the subject of man's physical creation. They are, biology and geology. In the Bible, there are many passages informing us that man was made from the dust of the earth, and to dust he will return after his death. It is clear from all of these passages that God is teaching us something about man's creation, but he is using the geological sciences (i.e., dust of the earth) because this is the terminology that people of the first few thousand years would have some degree of meaningful understanding ... even if it was only symbolic. They could never have even begun to understand DNA or cell physiology. Through this geological terminology, they would be given a symbolic meaning of a creation event that, as it would be discovered later, is actually a much deeper concrete reality ... beyond symbolic. In reality, it is the salt/dust of DNA. With this deeper understanding, a better understanding of how the Sacraments, the Mystical Body of Christ, and grace, affect both the body and the soul. This also leads to a deeper understanding of how Love is expressed into the visible world through the "language of the body," as Pope St. John Paul II describes it.
Biologists use biological terms to describe chemical reactions, biological functions, etc. I'm guessing that biologists do not routinely use the science of geology textbooks as part of their biological studies. Biologists don't think in geological terms, such as what constitutes a rock, stone, and dust. As time and science progressed, God knew that people of our time would be able to put two and two together to produce a biological "four", in a manner of speaking. The "four" being the biological understanding of the concrete meaning of the geological vernacular.
So, since God is employing geological terminology by using the words salt, dust, and stone, let's see how the geological sciences define a stone. "The rocks you see around you - the mountains, canyons & riverbeds, are all made of minerals. A rock is made up of two or more minerals [SML]. Think of a chocolate chip cookie as a rock. The cookie is made of flour, butter, sugar & chocolate. The cookie is like a rock and the flour, butter, sugar & chocolate are like minerals. You need minerals to make rocks, but you don't need rocks to make minerals. All rocks are made of minerals."[17] Incidentally, this is why gold and silver are never referred to as a rock or stone. Each only contains one elemental mineral, not the two or more necessary to be classified as a stone. Because of this, they use the term, nugget, bar, coin, etc.
For the benefit of non-biologists I will give some background. In 1953 James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins published a paper titled, "A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid [DNA]." The first sentence in the article reads, "We wish to suggest a structure for the salt [SML] of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.)."[18] DNA is a biological salt and, therefore, a rock. This article, published in Nature magazine, includes commentary by Tom Zinnen. He tells us that, after losing positively charged hydrogen ions, the DNA phosphates (phosphate and sugar comprise the backbone ... the sides of the "ladder", so to speak ... of the DNA double helix) become negatively charged. Consequently, they bind to a cation (a positively charged ion) to achieve electrical neutrality - usually, but not limited to, Na+ (sodium) or K+ (potassium). That makes the DNA polymer a "salt" of [Na+] x [DNA-] (sodium phosphate) or [K+] x [DNA-] (potassium phosphate).[19][20] Why is this important? This bonding of more than one mineral (specifically, an ion of metal and an ion of acid) to the DNA backbone makes it the salt of DNA. By geological definition, it makes the salt of DNA a molecule of rock/stone/dust.[21]
The Hebrew word for dust in Genesis is aphar, which translates as "dust (as powdered or gray); hence, clay, earth, mud [Strongs 6083]." Even Richard Dawkins has admitted that Genesis may have, indeed, accurately described how man was made. Kudos to him for being intellectually honest enough to do so. According to an article by Paul Baldwin, "Clay is made up of tiny crystals which when fed with water are capable of growing, splitting off and giving rise to identical (or near-identical crystals) ... Mr. Cairns-Smith proposed biological molecules like DNA began to associate with these complex crystals and eventually a 'genetic takeover' took place ... Astonishingly his theory was first proposed in 1966 but further studies in 2007 and 2013 backed the principles … Most recently Biological Engineers from Cornell University's department for Nanoscale Science in New York state agreed clay 'might have been the birthplace of life on Earth'."[22] DNA is salt. DNA is dust. DNA is crystalline.
A list of STOSS Books blogs and articles, together descriptions and links can be found here.
Updated 04/25/2022


[1] The majority of this section is taken from chapter 1 and sub-chapter 1(a) of Stephen Michael Leininger’s book, The Science & Theology of Salt in Scripture, Vol. I.
[2]. Dr. Michael Pidwirny. “Composition of Rocks”. Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition (2006), http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/10d.html, 05/07/2009 (accessed 10/10/2011).
[3]. Ibid.
[4]. Yinon Bentor, “Periodic Table: Sodium”, in Chemical Element.com, http://www.chemicalelements.com/elements/na.html (accessed 10/11/2011).
[5]. Ibid.
[6]. James D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (New York, NY: Touchstone, 2001), 165-166; 183; 193; and 113-114.
[7]. Ibid., 68-69, 167-168.
[8]. University of Georgia, “Light Shed on Ancient Origin of Life,” Science Daily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307110644.htm: Science Daily LLC, March 6, 2013 (accessed 03/08/2013);
Journal Source: F. Sarmiento, J. Mrazek, W. B. Whitman. “Genome-scale analysis of gene function in the hydrogenotrophic methanogenic archaeon Methanococcus maripaludis.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1220225110.
[9]. MineralTown, “Soil, Sand and Dirt,” http://www.mineraltown.com/infocoleccionar/How_rocks_minerals_are_formed.htm#Crystals, (accessed 10/11/2011)
[10]. Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works: With Letters and Songs. Translated by Robert Cunningham, Jerry Dybdal, and Ron Miller. Edited by Matthew Fox. (Santa Fe, NM: Inner Traditions International/Bear & Company, ©1987) All rights reserved. <http://www.Innertraditions.com> Reprinted with permission of publisher. Kindle Locations 2430 - 2431.
[11].”Clay,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay, (accessed 10/17/2012).
[12]. Ron Milo, Rob Phillips, “How Big Is A Human Cell,” Cell Biology By The Numbers, http://book.bionumbers.org/how-big-is-a-human-cell/, (accessed 08/23/2016).
[13]. As revealed in detail in The Science & Theology of Salt in Scripture, Vol. II.
[14]. Not resting on this evidence alone, the majority of Volume I of STOSS is devoted to showing that the literalistic interpretation of salt, dust, and stone in Scripture, is also the literal interpretation. An example of a literalistic interpretation is this: If the Bible talks about Jesus being the door, we would interpret that as Jesus being an actual wooden (or some other material) door. The literal interpretation is that which the author actually meant. Using this method, Jesus’ describing himself as the door is really him telling us that it is only through him that we can go to the Father. In some cases in Scripture, the literalistic interpretation can also be the literal interpretation. An example of this is when Jesus describes himself as real food and real drink (John 6:55).
[15]. Ken Ham, “Millions of Years and the ‘Doctrine of Balaam,’” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/the-word-of-god/millions-of-years-and-the-doctrine-of-balaam/: June 1, 1997 (accessed 05/07/2017).
[16] cf. Peter Abelard (circa 1100 AD), “The Story of My Misfortunes,” (Third Millennium Media L.L.C., The Faith Database L.L.C., 2008).
[18] J. D. Watson, Crick, F. H. C., with commentary by Tom Zinnen, "A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid," Nature (Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum) 171,737 1953 (April 1953).
[19] Ibid.
[20] cf. James D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (New York, NY: Touchstone, 2001), pp. 80, 88, 160, 204.
[21] Dr. Michael Pidwirny. "Composition of Rocks". Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition (2006), http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/10d.html.
[22] Paul Baldwin, “REVEALED: How life on earth began - and the answer is even crazier than you thought,” Express, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/752936/Humans-evolved-from-MUD-says-Richard-Dawkins-bible-was-right-evolution-bible, August 31, 2017.
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