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Salt, Dust, Light, and Water in the 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

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Studying Salt, Dust, Water & Light in Scripture

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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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Why Haven't Biologists Connected DNA to Dust in Bible
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Why haven't biologists connected DNA to Dust in Bible
Dust and salt of DNA are in the Bible

Why Biologists Haven’t Connected DNA to Dust and Salt in the Bible

by Stephen Michael Leininger
Posted 04/10/2024
Updated 04/19/2024


When I first realized that salt and dust in Scripture refer to the salt and dust of DNA, I was shocked and puzzled. I couldn’t understand why someone in the scientific community had not previously discovered it. After many conversations with biologists I find out what I believe to be the reason.
The main problem, I believe, is in the three separate scientific disciplines and terminologies relative to the subject of man’s physical creation: Biology, Chemistry, and Geology. The Biology and Organic Chemistry sciences must understand that DNA is an organic salt (defined later). But without the science of Geology, we can not understand how DNA is dust, stone, and rock. This has led to some biologists claiming that 1) There are no minerals in DNA, 2) Nothing in DNA possesses a crystalline structure, and 3) biology can only be understood through ionic compounds, and such compounds do not contain the covalent bonds necessary to be part of DNA.
First, I agree with biologists when they advocate valid bio-science regarding the utility of the elements described through the chemistry of DNA. I get the ionic compounds, covalent bonds, polar compounds, etc. The functional hows and whys of the individual elements in DNA can be ascertained through chemistry. However, the inorganic solid compounds that form minerals are defined differently depending on the scientific discipline doing the defining.
For example, medical professionals and nutritionists define minerals this way:
A number of minerals are essential for health, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, sulfur, cobalt, copper, fluoride, manganese, and selenium.[1]
Each of the above is an individual Element in the Periodic Table. So, in the above example, healthcare professionals look at minerals from a purely individual standpoint. Each Element, if it is an inorganic solid, has a crystalline structure, and a chemical formula, is a mineral. Let us look at some reasons why.
Healthcare professionals view minerals as external elements taken into the body via foods, supplements, liquids we drink, etc.—all of which help maintain an existing body’s proper function. These elements are not looked upon as structural components of the body. They do not direct, i.e., provide the chemical instructions for building the body through meiosis and mitosis. To a degree, biologists study DNA from a somewhat similar viewpoint; The chemistry of ionic compounds, covalent bonds, polar compounds, etc., is employed to understand better how the body functions.
There is a branch of biology known as physiology. It is focused on exploring how the body functions. However, the many conversations I’ve had with other biologists, those not focusing on physiology, indicate the failure to incorporate the thoughts of Ben McFarland. He tells us the story of life “is built from three areas of evidence: rocks (geology), genes (biology), and the chemical rules that tie the two together.” He seems to imply that you can’t fully understand human life (I would add, its purpose, as described in Scripture when it informs of that primordial material from which we are made) without incorporating geological, biological, and chemistry.[18]
Again, the medical definition is not how geologists define minerals. Let’s examine that further. Geologists seek to define the “is” of rocks and the elements of which they are comprised. They define the primordial elements in the context of their origins as a part of the formation of the planet Earth. Specifically, the dust/crust of the Earth. God tells us we are made from the dust of the earth.
According to the NIH’s classification of minerals, man is not made from the dust of the earth; We are kept healthy by the elements of the earth listed in the Periodic Table, but not made from them. What is missing from the medical definition of a mineral is any consideration of the nature/essence, i.e., the “is” of those inorganic solids. An inorganic solid/ion can be defined as lacking any carbon-hydrogen bonds. Geologists define those inorganic solids in the context of the element’s nature, i.e., the substance as defined by the Philosophical sciences. A Nature/Essence that existed long before any organic life existed on Earth.
According to Joseph Komonchak et al.,
In the context of philosophical usage, form and matter are correlative terms, combining to explain the underlying structure of the changing material beings of our experience. . . . In their widest general sense, form and matter are two of the most basic and indispensable terms for speaking about our everyday experience of the world. Form signifies the shapes, patterns, structures, or designs of things, whether natural or artificial, i.e., in general that which determines something to be such and such, to be this kind of thing. Matter signifies the “material,” that is out of which something is made, that which is capable of receiving a form or pattern, i.e., in general, that which is determinable by form.[2]
Komonchak et al. never mentions “function” in defining a material’s nature. In fact, “function” can be more appropriately included as an Accident of the being’s Nature. The fact that an organism can run very fast doesn’t define its Essence. That functional ability can apply to several species, e.g., cheetah, horse, squirrel, etc.
Thus, we begin to see why Geology reveals why salt and dust in Scripture are direct references to DNA. It is from the geological dust of the earth that all living organisms were made and passed on to later generations. Nevertheless, knowing how the human body functions is important. The Catechism tells us, “It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man [both spiritually and biologically] truly becomes clear.”[3] Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body informs us that it is only through the instrumentality of the human body that the spiritual and the divine are revealed.
On February 20, 1980, he said:
The body … alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God.[4]
He also tells us:
The body speaks not merely with the whole external expression of masculinity and femininity, but also with the internal structures of the organism, of the somatic [the entire body and its aggregate parts such as the heart of flesh] and psychosomatic [relating to the mind/mental] reaction.[5]
Unlike the medical profession’s definition, germline DNA is not taken into the body. It is the body. It is a gift of love between a man and a woman within a covenant of salt relationship. The parents co-create a human body into which God breathes a spiritual soul. Starting from the zygote, it continually builds that body. It is no less in the image and likeness of God when it is within the womb than it is at seventy-two years old. If one loses a leg, for example, are they less human? Jeremiah writes, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:5).
Many scientists fail to grasp this concept because scientific empiricism fails when that which cannot be physically observed is the subject. God could not form what He did not know. And if He knew, by what means did He form? Answer: By breathing in the Breath of Life, i.e., the rational soul—a spiritual soul that is also the substantial form of the body being built.
I often hear scientists claim they have discovered where in the brain religiosity, for example, resides. No, you have not! What you found is the part of the biblical mouth (the cranial brain in this example) through which religiosity is expressed into the physical world. When God breathes the Breath, included in that Breath are individual gifts of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual soul never loses those natural gifts, though they may be blinded to them through sin.
One of those gifts might be intellect. Even the demons have not lost their natural intellect. When someone is classified as a vegetable, do not believe they have lost their God-given natural intellect. They haven’t and never will lose it. What that person has lost is the biblical mouth’s ability to express the products of that natural intellect. Because of our fallen nature, our body is prone to “breakage” due to external events. The biblical mouth fails, but the spirit never loses its natural gifts. However, the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit can be lost through sin. When we die and undergo our particular judgment, during which we experience our life review, what God reveals to us are the unforgotten memories locked within our own spirit. Our intellect and our memories can never be erased or forgotten from our spiritual soul—EVER! This is why many returning from NDE experiences describe the life-review process as seeing it as if in a mirror.
Returning to our original topic, I strongly recommend that any scientist involved with cellular biology read Microbiologist Ben McFarland’s book, A World From Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life. Through it, scientists can begin to appreciate his words, “Biology and geology meet through chemistry. . . . when life and rocks interact.”[6]

Inorganic Solids in the Earth and the Human Body

James D. Watson describes the solids that bind to the DNA Phosphate backbone as inorganic ions, i.e., inorganic solids. He was probably referring to Sodium (Na+), Phosphate (PO4-3), and Magnesium (Mg+2) as it applies to DNA. He also writes that the sodium and magnesium ions neutralize the acidity of the phosphate group DNA backbone.[7]
According to the geological sciences, a mineral is defined as possessing:
1. A naturally occurring inorganic solid,
2. A definite chemical composition and,
3. A ordered, i.e., crystalline, structure, and
4. Remains solid at room temperature.
The following are inorganic solids/ions in the Earth’s crust and the human body. Each is listed in the Periodic Table. When the element bonds to another of Earth’s inorganic solids, it can be identified as a geologically defined mineral. In the list below, each Element is followed by the percentage of the Earth’s crust it represents.
They are: magnesium, 2.1%; potassium, 2.6%; sodium, 2.8%; calcium, 3.6%; iron, 5.0%; aluminum, 8.1%; phosphorus, less than 1%; and Silicon, 27.7%. Knowing how much is present in the Earth’s crust, the question arises: How much is present in the human body? For a 180-pound human, approximately 47 pounds of these seven inorganic solids, i.e., dust-of-the-earth, are contained in the human body.[8] The National Institute of Health identifies all these elements as minerals. Using the NIH’s definition, we could claim that DNA is composed of at least four minerals composing two different types of dust/stone. But that is not what is being posited in this article.
The NIH’s definition and classification do not match Geological Science’s definition. Using Geology’s definition of minerals, there is one type of stone/dust composed of two mineral compounds. Both definitions support STOSS’ hermeneutics, as will be seen. However, the hermeneutic of STOSS could choose to limit itself to the NIH classifications, but the Theology of Salt has consistently maintained that Geology’s definition should be applied in order to correctly interpret the Bible’s usage of dust, salt, stone, and rock. So, let’s see why this is a valid assertion.

DNA is the Geologically Defined Dust of the Earth

The DNA backbone is composed of a sodium-phosphate ionic compound, which fulfills geology’s definition of a mineral, i.e., two Earth elements electrostatically bonded together. Additionally—and of vital importance—a second mineral exists in the DNA molecule (there may be other DNA minerals that I am unaware of). It is present in the nucleoside Adenine (Adenine Tri-Phosphate—ATP) base, designated by the letter “A”. ATP is a part of the rungs of the ladder of the DNA double helix. McFarland tells us, “Magnesium (Mg+2) fits perfectly between the oxygens on two adjacent Phosphates in ATP.”[9]
Therefore, combining two geologically defined minerals (i.e., sodium-phosphate and magnesium-phosphate) bonded to the same DNA molecule means that DNA can be geologically and therefore, accurately defined as dust/salt of the earth. What is a chemical salt? According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “A salt consists of the positive ion (cation) of a base[10] and the negative ion (anion) of an acid. The reaction between an acid and a base is called a neutralization reaction.[11] Meeting this definition, Sodium and Magnesium are alkali metals, i.e., bases. The inorganic solid Phosphate is the acid.
McFarland explains a chemical acid. He writes:
This is why both DNA and RNA end with “A” for “acid,” because a negatively charged phosphate is an acid. An acid is something that has shed a positively charged hydrogen in water, leaving a negative charge behind. Phosphate may be the only way for nature to make abundant charged chains in water.[12]
Indeed, the human body is made from the geologically defined “dust of the Earth”—especially the salt/dust of DNA. William Whitman, a microbiology professor at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, 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.”[13] Not being a geologist or theologian, Whitman can be forgiven for mischaracterizing DNA from a biblical standpoint. In ancient Hebrew and Greek, “rock” refers to the original structure from which stones/dust are separated by erosion, earthquakes, etc. Thus, DNA is not a rock; it’s dust/stone.[14]
Considering the NIH classification of the elements mentioned above, coupled with geology’s definition of rock, we can accurately assert that DNA is truly the dust and salt of the Earth.

The Crystalline Structure of DNA

As stated above, Sodium, Magnesium, and Phosphate are crystalline in structure. Does science back this up? Watson et al. proved through X-ray crystallography that the DNA molecule is composed of crystalline inorganic matter.[15][16] Richard Sinden writes, “The structure of B-form DNA, the most common form, was originally deduced from X-ray diffraction analysis of the sodium salt of DNA fibers.”[17]
 To recap: McFarland says, “Biology and geology meet through chemistry.”[18] Through Geology, we can finally see that DNA is literally the biblical salt and dust of the Earth.


[1] “Vitamins and Minerals,” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, last updated July 2023, https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals ; see also “Precious metals and other important minerals for health,” Harvard Health Publishing, February 15, 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/precious-metals-and-other-important-minerals-for-health.
[2] Joseph A. Komonchak, Mary Collins, and Dermot A. Lane, in The New Dictionary of Theology (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000), 398.
[3] Catholic Church, “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes,” in Vatican II Documents (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011), n. 22 ; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), n. 359.
[4] John Paul II, in his general audience of February 20, 1980, “Man Enters the World as a Subject of Truth and Love,” Theology of the Body, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Third Millennium Media L.L.C., The Faith Database L.L.C., 2008), n. 4.
[5] John Paul II, in his general audience of Sept. 5, 1984, “Responsible Parenthood Linked to Moral Maturity,” Theology of the Body, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Third Millennium Media L.L.C., The Faith Database L.L.C., 2008), n. 1.
[6] Ben McFarland, A World From Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), Kindle Edition, 184.
[7] James D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (New York: Touchstone, 2001), 80, 85, 130.
[8] This was calculated by going to https://www.webelements.com/potassium/biology.html. Enter your weight (select kilograms or pounds). Press “calculate”. It will produce the weight of that Element in your body in grams. Divide by 453.592 to get the weight of the Element in pounds.
[9] Ben McFarland, A World From Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), Kindle Edition, 2, 13.
[10] According to Britannica: “In chemistry, a base is any substance that in water solution is slippery to the touch, tastes bitter, changes the colour [sic] of indicators (e.g., turns red litmus paper blue), reacts with acids to form salts, and promotes certain chemical reactions (base catalysis). Examples of bases are the hydroxides of the alkali and alkaline earth metals (sodium, calcium, etc.).” ; Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia, “base,” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 19, 2024: https://www.britannica.com/science/base-chemical-compound.
[11] The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, “Salt,” Encyclopedia Britannica (March 13, 2024): https://www.britannica.com/science/salt-acid-base-reactions.
[12] McFarland, A World From Dust, 12.
[13] University of Georgia, “Light Shed on Ancient Origin of Life,” Science Daily, March 6, 2013, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307110644.htm.
[14] David L. Jeffrey and Klyne Snodgrass, “Stone,” in A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, ed. David L. Jeffrey (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 736-737.
[15] James D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (New York: Touchstone, 2001), 43, 54-56, 73.
[16] Richard R. Sinden, DNA Structure and Function, (Academic Press: Imprint of Elsevier, 1994), Kindle Edition, Location 263.
[17] Sinden, DNA Structure and Function, Location 652.
[18] McFarland, A World From Dust, 184; see also pp. 9, 16.
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