Skip to main content

“And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” –Genesis 2:7 (ASV)

Back in the 70s when I was in college, pop culture had co-opted a quote from Carl Sagan1 that “we are stardust.” Joni Mitchel echoed this theme and Crosby, Stills, and Nash embellished on it in the song “Woodstock,” adding that we are nothing more than “billion-year-old carbon.”

Another 70s song writer, Kerry Livgren from the group Kansas wrote that “all we are is dust in the wind.”

We did come from dust and “unto dust shalt [we] return,” (Genesis 3:19, ASV). Nevertheless, the Bible is clear that we are not just a collection of simple atoms from the stars or even the larger molecules that make up the complex biochemistry that powers our life force.

The Imago Dei, Latin for the “image of God” is what sets humans apart from all other created beings. It is the “metaphysical expression, associated uniquely to humans, which signifies the symbolical connection between God and humanity.”2

To say that humans are [created] in the image of God is to recognize the special qualities of human nature which allow God to be made manifest in humans. In other words, for humans to have the conscious recognition of their being in the image of God means that they are the creature through whom God’s plans and purposes can be made known and actualized.3

God breathed a living soul into that first man, making it possible for all of Adam’s descendants to be conscious of the One, True, Triune God. But this awareness is just the beginning. We are capable of a deeper knowledge of Him through a personal relation when we believe on His Son and thus, we are able to comprehend spiritual matters. Even those who have not heard the gospel have a vague awareness, limited as it is, of something or someone greater that exists outside our own dimension.  

God is everywhere present. King David wrote in Psalm 139:

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take up the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will take hold of me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,’ Even darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to you. 

Although God is present everywhere, not all are God-aware. In many cases, God-awareness has to be taught. It then behooves Christian educators to be on the lookout for opportunities to see God’s hand in unexpected places and then share these glimpses of Imago Dei with students through intentional faith integration in the classroom.  

I teach several first-year chemistry courses. About half of my students are in the university’s nursing program and the other half are majoring in a variety of disciplines including biology, chemistry, pharmacy, forensic science and pre-health. Such a wide range of majors affords me endless opportunities to point out the Imago Dei, often in the most unexpected places.  

Every semester, I assign an extra credit paper to my nursing class. The students are asked to read “A Sisterhood of Nurses,”4 an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal on August 11, 2018. The article follows the lives of six Philippine women who came to the U.S. over 40 years ago to pursue careers in nursing. In the rubric for the assignment, students are to write a one-page summary of the article, then identify at least one biblical principle that the six women evidenced, supporting this with a biblical reference. Finally, the students write about themselves and their own faith journey.

A majority jump at the opportunity, taking advantage of the extra credit that they’ll receive on their laboratory final at the end of the semester. And, they like to write about themselves as much as I enjoy reading their papers. Several have brought tears to my eyes. Many believe they were divinely called to study nursing at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

But there is another reason why I give this assignment. It is a prelude to what they can expect during the semester when time permits us to chase the occasional rabbit trail. It could be a discussion about an article to help avoid stress, the perils of spending too much time on social media or the ethics of a new medical procedure. By application of biblical critical thinking, we look for God until we find Him—and we always do—even if it takes some work.

In the other chemistry lecture I teach where the focus is more on pure science and less on health-related issues, there are still opportunities to integrate biblical truths with seemingly unrelated scientific laws.

I also teach several laboratory classes. In one such class, students mix solutions of different chemical compounds to determine whether a chemical reaction has occurred. Indications of a chemical reaction include a color change, the formation of a precipitate, the evolution of heat or light or the appearance of bubbles indicating that a gas has formed. Based on observations alone, the students are to judge whether a chemical reaction has occurred. At the end of the lab, I bring out a large Florence flask that contains a clear, colorless liquid. With one tap of a spatula over the opening of the flask, the solution quickly turns into a white, opaque solid and the flask becomes too hot to handle comfortably.

I posit the question: “What just happened? —Was it chemistry or something else?”

Almost without exception, the students judge it to have been a chemical reaction. But what has happened is that a tiny almost invisible crystal of sodium acetate that was on the tip of the spatula was introduced on to the surface of what is an unstable supersaturated solution of the same compound. The crystal provides the template for the molecules to align themselves into a more stable crystalline state and the entire flask solidifies in a matter of seconds.

To the student’s surprise, this is not a chemical change but a physical change despite three of the five criteria having been met. This demo provides a perfect segue into the Bible’s teachings about making judgments based on insufficient evidence. The verse we discuss, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment,” (John 7:24), is an excellent reminder that in both science and human relations, judging only by appearances often results in erroneous conclusions.    

It is faith integrations like these that help students see there is a spiritual side to everything—and yes, even science—but they have to be actively looking for it. God created us as holistic beings with body, mind, soul, and spirit. We were not destined to live compartmentalized lives or to partition our thinking into artificially created domains.

At the end of the semester, I offer an extra credit opportunity for the students in my general chemistry laboratory class. They attend an online lecture that deals with the overlap of science and faith. A YouTube video, “Everything Is Spiritual,”5 is a whiteboard presentation that covers a wide range of topics including the creation account from Genesis, the anthropic principle and how it applies to life on a perfect Earth, a smattering of quantum physics and atomic theory and a mix of related theological topics including a multi-dimensional analysis of how free will and God’s sovereignty can coexist.

In truth, everything is spiritual. It is therefore our solemn, God-called responsibility as Christian educators to raise student’s God-awareness through faith integration, using every opportunity we have at our disposal as often as possible.   


  1. Berkowitz, Jacob, “On the Origins of ‘We Are Stardust’” American Institute of Physics, June 23, 2016  On the Origins of “We Are Stardust” | American Institute of Physics (
  2. Editorial Staff, “What Does ‘Imago Dei’ Mean? The Image of God in the Bible,”, June 25, 2019 What Does “Imago Dei” Mean in the Bible? What is the Image of God? (
  3. Editorial Staff, “What Does ‘Imago Dei’ Mean? The Image of God in the Bible,”, June 25, 2019 What Does “Imago Dei” Mean in the Bible? What is the Image of God? (
  4. Lagnado, Lucette, “A Sisterhood of Nurses,” The Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2018 A Sisterhood of Nurses – WSJ
  5. Bell, Rob, “Everything Is Spiritual Tour” Rob Bell – Everything is Spiritual Tour – YouTube

Gregory J. Rummo

Gregory J. Rummo, B.S., M.S., M.B.A. is a Lecturer of Chemistry at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida.