A question that has been coming up a great deal lately in my recent conversations was the state of animal life before the fall of man. Being an old earther, I am inclined to believe death was an occurrence, and a further reading of the Bible only solidifies this view. I hope to clear up any issues on the subject and solidify the view that this view is actually taught in scripture.
Firstly, the names of the animals that Adam gave to the animals was a representation of their carnivorous nature (which is due to the likely hood of Adam speaking Hebrew). Names such as Hawk, meaning “unclean bird of prey, and Lion meaning ” in the sense of violence”, help strengthen the idea of pre-fall death in the animal kingdom. A secondary issue with taking a young earth view is that it contradicts God’s threat of death to Adam in Genesis 2:15-17 , which implies Adam knew in fact that death was an occurrence, as this threat other wise would run into the issue of him being the first man,so a death threat in a young earth view would be unnecessary and would likely go over Adam’s head, and in order for it to be effective, would have to be a comparison to previous deaths at the hands of animals .
Another issue is that a young earth view actually runs into biblical problems as well. Psalms 104 is a key piece where it actually goes as far to say that animal death occurred, going as far as to say that the lions await and seek their food from God. This clearly points towards there being death in the world, as Lions are without a doubt carnivorous creatures and this was was also referenced earlier in the context of the Lions name.
19 He assigned the moon to mark the months and the sun to mark the days. 20 He sends the night and darkness, when all the forest folk come out. 21 Then the young lions roar for their food, but they are dependent on the Lord. 22 At dawn they slink back into their dens to rest,
A verse young earthers use to support that death entered through Adam is using Romans 5;12, which is a very strange reading in my opinion. The verse is as follows:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned- Romans 5:12
The verse only goes as far to say that death spread to all men, which excludes animals. This makes sense as animals are not held morally accountable for there actions like a man is. When a rodent eats off its infants heads, it is not thought of as evil, we might feel sorry for the babies but we do not include it in our moral handbook. The sames follows that animals are not sinners, as they do not have the laws written on there hearts and did not rebel against God like man. Clearly the same standard is not applicable to animals, as they are incapable of transgressing against the law, and to say they do would be against biblical teachings.
Lastly, animal death was not on the short list of changes after the fall. Clearly it would have been as even thorns sprouting was a factor worthy enough to mention. We can plausibly follow that since the occurrence of a plant growing was referenced, likely an entire change in animal diet would have in all actuality be referenced. It is not however, and with the exclusion we can likely conclude that animal death was a fact of life even prior to the fall from grace.
In closing, I will end with a video which goes over how the “very good” usage when referring to animals is likely in reference to the beautiful system that God created, which Dr. William Lane Craig words beautifully. Thank you for reading and may the Lord bless you.