Young earth creationists say that God judged the animals on the basis of man’s sin. However, the Bible says that God is completely righteous in His judgment and does not judge the innocent with the wicked. This young earth doctrine maligns the character of God. In addition, if one says that animals first died due to sin, then one would have to say that animals have the capacity to sin. Nowhere in the Bible is this doctrine taught. Likewise, if Romans 5:12 is referring to animal death, then the rest of the chapter would have to refer to Christ’s death to redeem the animals. This is outrageous! Finally, applying animal death to 1 Corinthians 15:21 would imply that Jesus’ death would allow the resurrection of the animals, in addition to His followers. Such cavalier uses of scripture to support one’s own interpretation borders on cultic methods, and needs to be corrected by the Church.
It seems highly likely that there was death before the Fall. There was most certainly plant death and cellular death, and the existence of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden suggests that it was there to give Adam and Eve something that they did not originally possess – immortality. And if they were not immortal, then they were mortal. Adam and Eve were offered immortality originally through the Tree of Life in some fashion. And this involved giving them a quality they didn’t originally possess–immortality.
Although most Christians believe physical death began with the fall of man, it is clear from a careful analysis of Genesis 3 that the Bible was describing spiritual death. God stated very clearly that if Adam ate of the fruit he would die. Yet when Adam sinned he did not physically die, thus it was not physical death that God was discussing. In addition, there would be no reason to worry that man might eat from the “tree of life” if mankind had already achieved physical immortality.
According to the young earth creation science, there is no death before sin. However, why did God create creatures designed specifically for killing? God is perfect, and his creatures in the Garden would have been created perfectly to fit into the ecosystem. Venom has no purpose but to kill. According to the young-earth model, the “perfect” animal created by God would not need venom. Yet venom exists. Young earth creationism cannot explain this.
This is not so much an issue of old earth / young earth, as it is about biblical interpretation. This debate stems from their inaccurate assumptions that “death before sin” equates to animal physical death as well as human physical death.
…there exists insurmountable evidence of death before the Fall. Humans appear very late in the history of life, so the fossil record clearly shows that many creatures died before humans appeared. In fact, compelling evidence exists that many entire species had already become extinct. Dinosaurs are the most famous example, but there are thousands of others. However, the curse of Genesis 3 was that Adam and Eve, and not animals, should die. Therefore, the animal death that BioLogos acknowledges is entirely compatible with Christian doctrine. It can even be argued that Adam must have been familiar with the reality of animal death, or he would not have understood Godʼs warning. Granting that animal death before the Fall is consistent with Christian doctrine, we consider the question of human death before the Fall.
…part of Adamʼs curse was the onset of physical death for the human race, because the human race in the full Imago Dei really began with Adam. Although many human-like creatures lived and died before the Fall, these Homo sapiens did not yet bear the image of God. After the bestowal of Godʼs image, there was no death of Homo divinus until after the Fall. As soon as image-bearing humanity fully emerged through Godʼs creative process of evolution, no member of that species experienced death until after the Fall.
…the gift of everlasting life was lost as a result of the Fall. First, Homo sapiens became Homo divinus as the result of the gift of free will and a direct relationship with God. Homo divinus might have been the first being to have the potential to be immortal and not die. However, whether immortality was a natural part of Homo divinus or merely an offer that was extended, Homo divinus misused their free will. Part of their subsequent curse was that immortality was withheld, bringing both spiritual and physical death to humankind. This perspective is compatible with the belief that physical death was a result of the Fall.
…And the most reasonable interpretation of Scripture is that the death referred to in Romans and first Corinthians is spiritual death, not physical death. But BioLogos, despite affirming the generally accepted scientific story of origins as Godʼs method of creation, is also compatible with the idea that human death did not occur before the Fall as long as the definition of fully manifest humanness is not granted until Adam appears.
Was there death in the world before Adam and Eve sinned?