from Jim Stump at Biologos:
Ash Wednesday is not a feel good day on the church calendar for most people. I wonder, though, whether we who embrace the perspective of evolutionary creation might see other layers of meaning in this reminder of who we are.
We are dust. It is difficult to maintain that this is some sort of chemical analysis of the composition of humans. The words are taken from Genesis 3:19, where God told "the man" that he is going to toil, struggle, and sweat trying to get food from the ground. Then he'll return to the ground, for that's where he was taken from to begin with-- you are dust, and to dust you will return. It seems this message was understood to apply to all of us.
It is natural for evolutionary creationists to read these passages as assertions of solidarity with the life on earth. Plants, animals, and us-- we're all dust. We take that as a metaphor for the truth that we are part of the created order, and as such, we are born and we die. In this respect, we have no advantage over the grass and the animals.
If the biblical authors had access to the scientific information we do today, they might have expressed our commonality with living things even more strongly. For now we understand that in a literal sense we're made of the same material as all the other life: DNA. We’re all guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine. That’s the stuff of life-- from amoeba to lily pads, mosquitoes to giraffes, and paupers, priests, and presidents-- all of it is dust; all is DNA.
We may be dust and DNA like everything else, but there is something different about us. Of all the life on the planet, it is we alone who can repent.
The entire post can be read here.