With the advent of the Covenant Creation model ( not a new concept ), especially, there is some dissension within the Christian community at large about whether 'the breath of life' refers to the physical or spiritual life-force of humanity. 'Was Adam truly the first human being to walk planet earth, or was he simply the first to Commune, through Covenant, with his Creator?' This question, among other related questions, could and has released a firestorm & veritable flood of controversy!
If Adam was merely the first man to walk with God, think what that would do toward repairing the rift between Science & Religion in the minds of many Christians; the possibilities are nearly endless!The universe, to say nothing of the earth itself, might indeed be millions, even billions of years old, like Science tells us! How far away, according to Science, is the furthest visible star? Depending on whether you are using a telescope or viewing the night sky with the naked eye, the answer to this question may vary anywhere from 100,000 to millions and even billions of light-years; that's astronomical, however you look at it!
In other words, we're looking at these stars today just as they appeared then! Either that, or they were created with the appearance of age by an infinitely devious Creator, just to screw with us! If you believe that our Heavenly Father would do that to His People, you might be part of the problem within modern Christianity! ( of course, Scripture DOES say; 'He who sits in the heavens shall laugh'! )
So anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, if this 'breath of life' is referring to something more than mere physical existence, many of the problems within modern Christianity would be rendered moot,, such as the supposed rift between Science & Religion, and even the nature of man & the Nature of God could safely be re-examined! The nature of man and his resulting fallen condition, as opposed to what Scripture tells us in II Corinthians 5:17, 'behold, all things have become new', would be reconciled without having to become a cowboy, just by the realization that The Sin of Adam had primarily spiritual, not physical consequences, and thus saw Spiritual Fulfillment in Jesus the Christ!
The Nature of God, on the other hand, although an infinitely greater Subject, might be brought closer by the realization that, as the Creator of the Universe, and the Great & Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Father has condescended to make His Dwelling with ( in ) His Creation, through His People! Who & What God is would become clearer to many Christians with the acceptance of the Blessed Reality of 'Christ in Us'!
Those who believe that this 'breath of life' refers to mere human existence are consistent then, when they come, for example, to the Story of the Flood of Noah's day! If the physical life-force of mere humanity is the referent here, then we might well conclude that the scope of the Flood was universal, and that every living being on planet earth, except for those ( relatively ) few, perished! However, we have then, not just a rift between Science ( in general ) & Religion, we have a rift between Biology & Religion!
In some sort of Evolutionary Development, one of the sons of Noah must have eaten his Wheaties, because he sired some real 'giants' among men! Genesis 6:4 tells us, 'There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore [ children ] to them. Those [ were ] the mighty men who [ were ] of old, men of renown'. Now we're back to the Nature of God & the Sons of God! Were these in fact angelic spirit-beings ( whether good or evil ) that somehow physically impregnated human women ( oh, wait, the Holy Spirit did that with Mary, right? ), or were they simply those descendants of Noah that married outside the bounds of the Covenant?
For centuries, modern Christianity has accepted the plain 'fact' that not only was the scope of the flood universal, the destruction of 'all flesh in which is the breath of life' was universal as well! This leads to a host of problems, one of which is that 'as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive'. Although many Christians have accepted some form of universalism, this has become a real problem & cause for dissension among those who are the Body of Christ! This belief in some sort of 'Universal Salvation' has come about, in large part, because of a non-covenantal understanding & a misunderstanding of the Nature of God!
Historically, the Orthodox Christian Church has decried the universal aspect and scope of salvation, and even though there have been several who may have entertained the notion, it was widely accepted that most would end up in Hell, while only a select few would make it to Heaven! Not only does the belief that the 'breath of life' referred to spiritual and not physical life speak to the Nature of God, it also challenges the traditional & orthodox notion of Heaven & Hell! If all people will eventually be saved, why is there a Hell at all? IS there a Hell?! If there IS no Hell beneath. is there a Heaven above?!
The Breath of Life is not only THE most important question, theologically speaking; it could have infinitely far-reaching implications ( and applications ) regarding our understanding of the Nature of God & the Universe! All of this, however, is a moot point, if we do not put this understanding into practice, or, in other words, if we are not religious about it!
Since, as I believe, along with a growing number of Christians, 'the breath of life' is the Spiritual Reality of 'Christ in us', we should live in that Reality, not expecting that Jesus will return someday ( 'soon'? ) and whisk us away to Heaven, destroy this Earth, and then build a 'new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells' ( II Peter 3:12 )! We should live freely, in the knowledge that, while biological death is a natural occurrence, we, as the Body of Christ, have been eternally united to our Heavenly Father! We ARE Kings & Priests on the Land that our Heavenly Father has bequeathed to us!
The Breath of Life was/is the Spirit of God becoming One with His New Creation in Christ, in Essence, the Marriage of Heaven & Earth! If it is merely the life-force of human existence, then when our biology expires, we must become less than what our Heavenly Father created us to be!
No wonder that modern Christianity is in the shape it's in!
Charles Haddon Shank