Death before the fall

(Curran Harms) #1

Seeing that Adam and Eve could eat the vegetation (fruit) before the fall, would that not give evidence that there was death before the fall. Some plants and organisms only have 24 hour life spans and would have been around in the time of the garden. Also scripture says that God placed Adam in the garden. Could that mean that Adam seen death outside the garden and then was placed in the garden where there was no death.

If Adam and Eve were told that if they eat of the forbidden fruit, they would surely die. I feel like they would have had to have an understanding of what death is to understand its consequences. Which is evidence of death before the fall.

(SeanO) #2

@Curran_Harms There is a difference between plant death and animal death. However, as William Lane Craig points out below, there is nothing in the Bible that clearly says there was no animal death prior to the fall. The Bible only specifically says human death is a result of the fall.

I’ve also provided a link to the creationist perspective that there was no animal death because creation was ‘very good’, though I do not agree with that position.

Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

Well, I would say in response to James that when you read the Bible, there’s nothing in the Bible that suggests that animal death is the result of the fall of man. In the book of Genesis the earth was cursed to bare thorns and thistles, woman was given pain in child-bearing, but there’s no suggestion in Genesis that animal death is the result of the Fall, that’s simply not there. Similarly, in Romans 5, Paul is talking about how human death is the result of the Fall – because Adam fell death spread to all men, he says, because all sinned – and even there I think it’s pretty clear he’s talking about spiritual death, not merely organic, biological death. So I find it ironic that so many young-earth creationists should believe that animal death is the result of man’s fall into sin when this isn’t taught in the Bible at all. This is one of those clear cases where, I think, people are reading things into the text rather than of out of the text; they’re reading in-between the lines. And scientifically speaking it would be inevitable that prior to man’s fall, during those six days preceding man’s fall, even taken literally micro-organisms and insects would be dying. There’s no reason to think that there wasn’t animal death prior to the fall of man into sin. William Lane Craig

Explanation if Creationism Accepted

We know that animals and man were not eating meat originally according to Genesis 1:29–30. So, meat-eaters today were all vegetarian originally, which also points to death not being part of the original creation. Plants are not “alive” in the biblical sense of nephesh chayyah, only animals and man. So, plants being eatendid not mean death existed before the Fall. One would not expect a God of life to be a god of death. When we look at God’s restoration in Revelation 21–22, there will be no death, pain, or suffering.

(Curran Harms) #3

I feel that when God said it was good, He is referring to the fact that earth in which he created would serve his purpose. Some people feel that good meant no death.

Adam had to know what death is, in order for him to understand the severity of a consequence for not following God’s command. If Adam never witnessed death then the consequence would hold no value.

(SeanO) #4

@Curran_Harms The argument that Adam had to see death to understand the severity of the consequences of sin is interesting, though I am not sure it is water tight. We know what some words mean without ever actually experiencing them - we have been given both an imagination and the ability to reason abstractly. In addition, I am not sure that we ever really understand the fullness of sins consequences until we experience it ourselves, so it is doubtful that Adam and Eve really knew the horror of being ‘naked’ and unclothed and separated from God prior to the fall.

Also, this position assumes that obedience is motivated chiefly by fear. In contrast, I believe that while there is an element of fear that plays into repentance, obedience is ultimately intended to be motivated by love. Perfect love casts out fear and those who love God keep His commandments.

(Kenny) #5

Hmm, this is a very interesting question, and to be honest, it didn’t come to thought until you raised this up @Curran_Harms.

I was under the impression that “death” came about through Adam himself.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned-- (Romans 5:12)

It was because of him eating from the tree which resulted in death reigning on the earth. This also meant that death existed, but not in the world. And the first sacrifices (or animal deaths) were actually done by God when He made clothing for Adam and Eve.

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

So I’d say I stand from a POV where nothing died before the fall. Just another POV. :slight_smile:

(Curran Harms) #6

That is a good point you make. Im glad i can see it from both perspectives.

(Matt Western) #7

I have a question on this same topic from a 6 day literal creation perspective.

’Does animal death before the fall viewpoint compromise the Gospel?’.

  • The Gospel being that Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrificial lamb, and to which all the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to
  • the lamb that God killed in Eden to provide a covering for Adam and Eve’s sin was perfect (I presume this because the Israelite system required a perfect lamb that was unblemished)
  • if Old Earth Creationism has death before the Fall (millions of years of death/decay?), then why was the sacrifice of a lamb by God as a sin covering a big deal in the garden of Eden. Just another single animal death would carry less or little significance and meaning?
  • the question being: Does it matter that so called ‘nephesh-chayyah’ animals died before the Fall of man??

Also, some secondary thoughts - why do humans care about animal death now? If there was millions of years of animal death, why do we care about preserving species now and stopping extinction? Why do we like having pets, such as dogs, and we go through sorrow when they die? Also, if animals have no value as ‘creatures with nephesh chayyah’, why do we observe what appears to be emotions and intelligence in so called ‘higher animals’ such as dogs who are happy to see their owners after being away for a period of time, seem to express sorrow when you tell them off for digging up the flowers or pooping on the carpet. :slight_smile:

Also a funny story in how I relate to animals - we have pet fish in a nice tank. If one dies, I’m like ‘oh well’ and just drop it into the bin without a second thought. Also, when my wife or daughter screams and needs rescuing from a spider or earwig i just squash or spray them without much thought. But when it comes to so called ‘higher animals’, we have in the past had two pet gineau pigs. One got attacked by a magpie in the back yard and it’s eye was hanging out, and my wife asked me to put it out of it’s misery. Without being gross, I found this extremely hard to do and had to put it into a bag first so I couldn’t see it. Also recently one of our pet quails now has an eye infection and my wife again wants it gone. I jokingly say 'I’m supposed to be a caring husband on one day and listen and love you and our daughter, and then on the other hand I’m supposed to close off all my emotions and kill off the unwanted family pets… Talk about demanding of a husband. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: '. Of course, those that work on farms think us city dwellers live in fantasy land when we buy our nicely packaged steak and chicken from the supermarket fridge. I don’t know, something in me, doesn’t really enjoy death of so called ‘higher’ animals, but at the same time I don’t care less about flies, rats, earwigs. Interesting to consider.

Anyway, all other aspects of the viewpoints on Genesis and how God created don’t concern me - except if it were to somehow compromise the Gospel.

To me, it seems that any death, including animal death wasn’t part of the original perfect design that God called ‘very good’. (btw, thanks Sean for sharing the William Lane Craig article, just having a read of that now)

Also, as I’m no Hebrew scholar, I found theBibleProject’s video on ‘nephesh’ of interest as well.

(SeanO) #8

@matthew.western I once held the view that there was no death prior to the fall myself and I must say that the appeal to our revulsion in the presence of dead or decaying things makes for a powerfully emotive argument. However, our current universe and the biological order assume decay - if there was no death prior to the fall, then the way ecosystems functioned must have been drastically altered in only a moment of time. I recognize all things are possible for God, but it simply seems like the less plausible explanation; especially since there is no Biblical text that explicitly says so. In fact, one would expect that if animals did not die before the fall, the author of Genesis may have even mentioned it - it is quite an extraordinary fact.

Actually, imagine if bugs never died - or even rabbits. Think about how fast they multiply. The perfect world would have been overrun quite quickly :slight_smile: Some have suggested that animals do not experience pain the same way humans do and pointed to the exquisite beauty of how ecosystems function. Others, of course, have said that at some point in distant ages past evil spiritual forces somehow corrupted creation.

Perhaps this is one of those mysteries where we cannot get a definitive answer.

(gerhard NvC) #9

The confusion arises from the misunderstanding that death is introduced into this world as a punishment for sin. Death of biological organisms has always existed. However to anything that exists and finds itself to be part of God the cessation of your bodily existence has no meaning other than your body ceasing to exist as you are still part of God. However God did not want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of realisation of good and evil as it is the tree of self realisation. In doing so they become units separate from God , thus separated from his eternal life and therefore mortal. His statements are to be seen as stating the logical consequences of this action like we telling our children not to touch the live electric wire as it would put them at risk of death. You would not say that if you touch that wire I will punish you.
I would think death has always existed in the animal kingdom as a way of sustaining one another by giving their life for each other

(Curran Harms) #10

copied this article from Hugh Ross from this may help show that animal death prior to fall did not affect scripture

Every Easter we give thanks for God’s remedy for sin: Jesus’ atoning work on the cross and glorious resurrection from the dead. His death in our place bridged the gap between humans and our Creator, a gap that formed in the Garden of Eden.

At the heart of a controversy among Christians stands the issue of animal death and its relationship to the Atonement doctrine. After pronouncing the curse, God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of animals (Genesis 3:21). According to some creationists, God’s provision of these animal skins is the first occurrence of physical death. They see this event as Adam’s introduction to bloodshed and, consequently, to the high penalty for sin. They go on to argue that if animal death had already occurred in the world for millions or billions of years (as an old earth implies), then the Jesus’ atoning work on the cross is compromised.

Such a charge can be troubling and may persuade some believers to reject an old-earth view of creation on that basis alone. However, a closer study of the data reveals that the charge is anchored outside, rather than inside, the biblical text. It fails to consider that the atonement applies to humans, the one and only sinful species. And, it arises from pre-commitment to an overarching assumption: God would not have allowed animal death before Adam’s sin. This a priori belief is then imposed upon the text itself as an interpretive lens.

Although it is certainly true that the new creation will not include physical death (1 Corinthians 15:53–55; Revelation 21:4), the Bible does not state that plant or animal death was introduced the moment Adam sinned (Romans 5:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:21). Nor does the text say that the creatures killed to make Adam and Eve’s clothing were the first animals to die. It doesn’t even say God killed the animals involved. Once again, assumptions are read into the text based on a previous foundational belief, namely that there was no death of any kind before Adam sinned.

Christians are right to want to preserve the integrity of the Atonement. But to say the old-earth belief of pre-Fall animal death undermines Jesus’ work on the cross is to make a serious charge based on insufficient biblical evidence.

(Curran Harms) #11

@matthew.western I sent an article reply from Its a good explanation. Also some other things to consider, plants are mentioned in third day, and Adam and Eve were eating plants before they sinned. So death of plant life was already in effect before the fall. And today we know that there are living species that have life spans of less than 72 hours, so how would someone account for that if there was no animal death prior to the fall, unless the laws that govern our world changed after the fall. But the laws God set in place are constant and unchanging.

Isaiah 40:22 states God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

In Isaiah 40:22 the bible is claiming that the stretching of the heavens is both finished and constant and ongoing. Meaning it hasn’t changed and it continuing to expand. Take for instance today we know that the universe is always in expanse at a constant rate (black matter).

In this verse we see the verb Natah which means stretches out. In the second line we see the term for “spreads them out” which is mathah.

This finished and constant stretching shows that the laws and physics from creation are ongoing and at same rate.

When you apply this to death before the fall, it makes all the more sense that death happened prior to the fall with animals and after. The laws and physics are constant and the same.

(Matt Western) #15

Thanks Curran for sharing the article. It’s really good to think about this, as it strengthens my faith.

Do you think the priori belief argument could just as easily be flipped around and applied to Old Earth Creationism? A commitment to OEC is there, and this requires pre-fall animal death?


no one disputes plant ‘death’ as they do not have ‘nephesh-chayyah’ life in the first place.

I beg to differ slightly. Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened and they made plant coverings for themselves.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Gen 3:7 ESV

God replaced plant coverings with skins - and yes the text does not explicitly state where the skins came from. Could it be implied that plant coverings were inadequate for sin and something more was needed such as Atonement?

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Gen 3:21 ESV

I know this is an article quoted here; but to suggest that YEC Christians who struggle with genuine concerns about this are making a serious charge based on insufficient biblical evidence is bit rough.
(having said that for balance some articles on YEC sites get a little ‘direct’ as well :slight_smile:) .

I’m a YEC Christian looking seriously at OEC, and as I said about all the rest of ‘How God created’ doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t mind if it took 5 seconds, or a trillion years, after all what is time. The only thing that is currently bothering me personally is that Old Testament animal sacrifices, that point forward to Jesus’ perfect atoning sacrifice, are not compromised if I change views. I’ve read John Lennox book “7 days that divide the world”, and agree that Humans must have been a special creation, and Adam and Eve are literal people, because Jesus is the second Adam. I also agree with Lennox who says that we need to stop arguing so heatedly about it as it can detract from, and become a side-track from sharing the Gospel, the Great Commission… I love all Lennox’s books.

Is Isaiah literal or metaphorical here? ‘like grasshoppers’ seems to be metaphorical. A circle to me, taken literally, is a flat disc, not a sphere. Also the ‘stretching out of the heavens’ is used as support of distant starlight being previously close to earth.

agreed, except for the occurrence of miracles, where God steps into the picture.

In Revelation 21 there is the description of a New Heaven and New Earth.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Rev 21:1

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Rev 21:5

Do you think God will make the New Heaven and New Earth in the same time scale (and with its implications) he made the current Heaven and Earth? God called Creation ‘good’ 5 times, and on the 6th time he declared it ‘very good’. I’m hoping that the creation of the New Heaven and New Earth don’t include as much time, decay and death (animal suffering). It might be a long wait for the resurrection, but again what is time at the end of the day. :slight_smile:

Again, to clarify, I write this post to learn more and grow more in the faith, not to cause division, or to suggest that an OEC viewpoint undermines the Cross… It’s just an area of concern for me personally at the moment… I hope this is the spirit in which it is taken. :slight_smile: