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There is a certain distastefulness to the idea that we are descended from monkeys. Monkeys scratch their heads, make ridiculous noises, and slap themselves, kind of like the Three Stooges. Some particularly mean ones, as my father-in-law tells me, throw their own poop at spectators. Is it any wonder that many YEC Christians turn their noses up at the idea of including them in our family tree? “I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t come from monkeys,” they might say.

But there is a certain inconsistency and perhaps forgetfulness here. What does the Bible say about our origins? It says that God formed man from the dust of the ground. Eh, what’s that you say, Moses? We came from…dirt? There is nothing particularly glorious about dust. The image of God is quite glorious, but dust? I think it’s not so great a thing, as the following two passages indicate.

13As a father shows compassion to his children,
   so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14For he knows our frame;
   he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103, ESV)

25 I am laid low in the dust;
       preserve my life according to your word. (Psalm 119, NIV)

Dust is a thing of humility and humiliation. It is what the Hebrews sprinkled on their heads when they were humbling themselves or mourning. It is from the dust that God raises up the poor (Psalm 113:7), and it is to the dust that God reduces the proud (Isaiah 26:5). To say that God made us of dust is to show how humble our origins really are and to magnify how gracious God is by stamping his image on us.

We have an honor that the other animals do not have, but we should also remember that we do not exactly have an illustrious beginning. When we remember this, it is not quite so disgraceful to think that we share a close ancestry with monkeys. Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.

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