The original question was: At a recent debate in Brisbane, Australia, Dr Lane Craig stated there’s no scriptural evidence that animals started dying only after Adam sinned. Yet the New Testament says that death of people came into the world through Adam’s sin, so when did animal death commence? Was it before the Fall of man, or even before the creation of man?
Answer by Diane Eager
To answer this question you need to consider what would cause their deaths.
Genesis states clearly that water dwellers and flying creatures, were created on the fifth day, and land animals on the sixth day. Adam and Eve were also created on the sixth day. Therefore, animals were, at most, only one day old when man was created. We are not told how long there was between the completion of creation and the Fall of man, but it does not seem to have been long, since Adam and Eve had been told to multiply and fill the earth, and Eve was not yet pregnant. So three weeks is a good guess. Therefore, the animals were still young when Adam sinned and man fell, and death entered the world, so the animals still would not have been ready to die of old age.
We can also eliminate any animal death through being eaten by carnivores, because Genesis states clearly that all animals, as well as people, were vegetarian. (Genesis 1:29-30)
To understand Craig’s and his colleagues’ claim, you have to face the fact that they have already rejected the Genesis account as real history, and substituted an old earth history based on the secular geologists’ view of history. Their real belief is that the millions of fossils buried in rocks all over the world, represent real millions of years of animals living and dying before man came on the scene. The chief starting point for Craig and his colleagues is that Scripture is subservient to secular geology, and not vice versa. But the most important issue they have to ignore is that Genesis teaches that God made the world “very good” (Genesis 1:31), and it remained very good until man’s sin and God’s judgement in chapter 3 set the world on a downward path of degeneration.
Let’s consider what a very good world would be like. It would be a place of peace and plenty, where all living things would have sufficient food, water and habitat, without having to struggle, or fight other animals to get it. The climate would be mild enough that no animal went in fear of freezing to death, or dying of heat or dehydration. Such a mild climate is confirmed by the fact the Adam and Eve went about unclothed. Furthermore, there would be no “natural disasters” (floods, fires, volcanoes, etc.) to kill any animals, or people. Finally, there would no diseases to kill people or animals, because disease is not very good.
Even when animals are not killed by other animals, or by disease or accident, death is still not good. That’s why people grieve when their pets die. Death on this planet is the end of a long process of disease and degeneration, involving pain, weakness and suffering. In a very good world there was no pain and suffering.
Apart from an old earth view of history, the only reason to believe in animal death before man, or before the Fall of man, is the claim that God used evolution to produce animals which turned into man – a process described by Darwin as a “war of nature”. None of the processes of evolution can be described by the final words of Genesis 1, i.e. “God looked at all that he had made, and behold, it was very good”. Evolution is supposed to have been the result of a long struggle for existence, kill or be killed, survival of the fittest, at the expense of the unfit. Furthermore, mutations, the supposed source of new genetic information, are really the result of damage to genetic information, and the cause of many tragic diseases and birth defects.
Craig and Co need to realise they are leading people astray, and wake up! Death prior to man is totally inconsistent with God’s good character stamped upon creation (Romans 1:20). To have a God who would declare the world to be very good for man, yet to have subjected the animals to millions of years of death, disease and struggle before man came along, is the inspiration for theologian Darwin’s comment in his autobiography: “A being so powerful and so full of knowledge as a God who could create the universe, is to our finite minds omnipotent and omniscient, and it revolts our understanding to suppose that his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage can there be in the sufferings of millions of the lower animals throughout almost endless time?” Nora Barlow, ed. The autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809-1882: with original omissions restored. New York, W.W. Norton, 1969, p90
Sadly, Darwin chose to believe his theory and reject God. Craig and Co are less consistent than Darwin. We urge you not to make the same mistake. Although the world changed from good to bad when Adam sinned, God did not change. God is still good, and he still wants people to live forever in a very good world. Therefore, he sent Jesus Christ die on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, and then rise from the dead to give new life to all who will accept him as Lord. If you do accept him you can look forward to life in a new creation where there is no death, disease, pain or struggle. (See Revelation 21 & 22)
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