I believe I've heard both Bob Enyart and Fred Williams argue that theistic evolution is not Biblically sound because it would entail lots of animal death occurring before Adam's fall. I know I've heard Ken Ham use that argument.
I'm not particularly fond of theistic evolution, but I'd like to discuss why I think this line of reasoning doesn't fit the bill. I think there are much better arguments for why TE runs into problems with a plain interpretation of Scripture.
The central scripture used from the creationist perspective is Romans 5:12 "Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin…" First, I want to make it clear that this verse specifically goes on to say that the result of Adam's sin was that "death spread to all men." It doesn't say that Adam's sin brought death to all the animals. This passage has nothing to do with animal death and it is not honest to use this verse as proof that animals didn't die until Adam sinned.
I want to make a few brief comments about what the word "death" means in the Bible, especially in this context. Overwhelmingly, I believe that when death is referenced to sin, it is talking about a spiritual death – not a ceasing of bodily functions. In the same token, the new "life" of being "born again" doesn't have anything to do with increased bodily functions, but with our spirits being made alive to God and united with Him. I think this makes sense when you read God's warning to Adam against eating the fruit – "in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die." If God meant physical death, He was a liar, because Adam didn't physically die on the same day that he ate the fruit. On the other hand, there was a spiritual aspect of Adam that died that day – that of relationship with God without boundaries. God didn't do anything to change the lifespan of man until much later, during Noah's days.
Now, let me make a very practical argument for why I think there was animal death before Adam sinned. The central scripture against carnivorous animals is Genesis 1:30 "to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food." I don't think this is a comprehensive treatise on the diets of early animals. It says the reason God made plants was for a source of food. It should seem obvious, though, that this wasn't the sole source of food for every creature. First, there are bacteria that use photosynthesis for energy. They "move on the earth" and they don't eat plants. I'll jump to a larger species. Do you really think baleen whales survived on a diet of seaweed or algae? It seems obvious that their teeth were designed to filter krill from the water. It is physically impossible for most species of large whales to swim into shallow enough water where seaweed grows to eat it. There are other ocean creatures who make their home in very deep dark waters where no sea plants can grow – such as angler fish. Again, it seems obvious that the bioluminescent dangle of the angler fish is designed by God to assist it in hunting for other fish!
Evidence of a predatorial world is also seen in the complex defense mechanisms of many creatures. Why were skunks created with stinky spray? Why were echidnas and porcupines created with defensive armor? Why are many animals created with elaborate camouflage mechanisms? The obvious answer is that they needed to defend themselves against larger predators. This was part of God's original Garden of Eden plan.
I find it terribly odd to believe that the complex circle of life and a detailed carnivorous ecosystem was the result of the fall of Adam. Frog's tongues were designed to eat flies, not flowers. Same goes for anteaters tongues. Do you really think T-Rex was designed with 3 inch spiked teeth to nibble tree leaves? I've heard some creationists admit that some animals ate bugs, but say that this wasn't really "death." I beg to differ. This only logically makes sense if you don't think bugs are actually alive. That makes one wonder how large or complex an organism has to be in order to be considered "alive." I think Jesus throws that logic out the window when he says "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies…." I realize He was making a spiritual point, but there is no denying that he equivocated the severing of a wheat grain to a type of dying.
I think the idea of an Eden animal kingdom where all the creatures are buddies is mistakenly implied from passages about God's future kingdom where "the wolf will dwell with the lamb." Perhaps it is concluded that the animal kingdom will be restored to a place of peace that it once enjoyed. First, I might conclude that those passages are more symbolic of spiritual realities than literal ones. Second, just because the animal kingdom may one day enter such a state, doesn't mean that it was once that way. Some might think a peaceful and quiet animal kingdom in Genesis represents God better than a wild and bloody one. I think this is an inadequate view of God. God's character isn't fully captured by calm and quiet. God's nature is also one of wildness and danger – of smoking mountains and fiery bushes. Of course, on the other hand, you can continue believing that giant squids used their barbed tentacles and sharp beaks to harvest sea fans before Adam sinned.
To stir the pot a bit on this subject, I want to post a conjecture made by Bob Enyart as to exactly when Adam and Eve fell after they were created. Bob's argument, while conjecture, makes a lot of sense to me. Here it is:
There are many false theories of creation and the fall of man. One is that God did not finish creation in six literal days. Arguments for this is that a "thousand years to God is as a day." But believers who fall for this are being weak. Genesis stated that in six days God finished His work and rested, and He reconfirms this in Exodus.
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Gen. 2:1-2
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Ex. 20: 11
Secular evolutionists say it took millions or billions of years. Weak Christians say God created, but He could have taken millions and billions of years. There is no evidence, fossil or otherwise, to support secular evolution. Neither is there evidence for creationist evolution. Weak Christians believe He was incapable of creation in six days.
On the other side of the coin, Christians who say that God could have created all in six seconds are demeaning the great accomplishment of God's magnificent work. It was a massive, gigantic, wonderful, beautiful and magnificent feat which took amounts of energy that we could never comprehend with our pea brains. And, God rested on the seventh day.
Adam and Eve Created Sinless
Chapter One of Genesis gives a detailed account of God creating and on the sixth day, He created Adam and Eve (from Adam's rib). Chapter Two is a mini-flashback of Chapter One and adds a few details about creation of Adam and Eve and how they were placed in the Garden. From verse one of chapter one to the last verse chapter two, there is no evidence that any sin, rebellion, or wickedness of any kind had entered the cosmos.
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Gen. 1:31 (last verse)
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Gen. 2:25 (last verse)
The Offense at the Tree
By the fifteenth verse of chapter 3 of Genesis, all Hell breaks loose. So a good question to ask is, "How much time elapsed between creation and sin entering the cosmos?" We can be certain that it was a very short period of time. And we can reasonably assume that it was less than seven days or less. How can we reasonably assume this?
Let's examine the evidence. Did Adam and Eve have any children prior to the Fall? The first mention of Eve conceiving is in Genesis chapter 4, verse l, and then she gave birth to Cane. And Cane, being conceived after the Fall, inherited sinful flesh (tendency to sin) from his father Adam. If Eve had conceived prior to the Fall, then Cane would have been born a sinless human being for "in Adam all died" (1 Cor. 15:22 also Rom. 5:12). So we can reasonably assume that Eve did not conceive prior to the Fall.
Would Adam and Eve have had any trouble conceiving and having children? Would they have had to go to a fertility clinic? No! God made them physically perfect. And God also told them to "be fruitful and multiply" in Chapter 1:22, before the Fall. How much time would have passed after creation before Adam and Eve began to have physical relations? Before answering, remember that it would be several thousand years before the male of the species would be distracted by NFL football. And also remember that Eve was handcrafted by the hand of God and was most likely "hot" as we say today. And they were naked!
Almost all living creatures have the same reproductive system. The female of the species has ovaries which contain eggs. And the ovaries release the egg or eggs on a cycle. It's either an annual cycle (like sheep) or a monthly cycle. Human beings, for example, are on a 28-day cycle average. The human body prepares the uterus to receive a fertilized egg. The uterus lining fills with blood and fluid to receive this fertilized egg, if it should happen. If it is fertilized, the egg will be implanted and gestation will begin for a certain period of time depending on how God made each species. For humans, it is nine months on average. If the egg is not fertilized, it will pass through (menstrual cycle), preparing the way for the next cycle to kick in.
The average, healthy cycle for women is 28 days. Although most women are on that cycle, there are some variations. When does the cycle begin? If you ask a woman who has been trying to get pregnant and has observed her body, or you ask a baby doctor, you are always told that it is the first day of her Period or menstrual cycle. But if you read a medical text book or get a doctor to talk on a more technical level, you will discover that this is not when it begins, but when the cycle ends. For when the egg is not implanted in the uterus, then the body flushes the inner lining of the uterus. After the flushing, the uterus is prepared again to receive a new egg. The beginning of the cycle is when the uterus begins to build up the nutrition and the environment it will need to receive an implanted fertilized egg.
When does ovulation occur? Fourteen days from the first day of the period. The normal menstrual period is five days. Five subtracted from fourteen is nine days. From the beginning of the cycle, it takes 9 days for ovulation (when a woman can become pregnant). If God created Eve fresh, so to speak, then nine days later (after the sixth day of creation), she could become pregnant. Now consider that Adam's sperm can live inside Eve for a few days. If we subtract two days, we are left with seven days. Seven days is the outer limit of when Adam and Eve could have fallen. All this is predicated on whether everything would work as God had designed it to work and that if Adam and Eve behaved as human beings are expected to behave. Also most intriguing is that Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day or the day before the Sabbath (Saturday). Six and seven are thirteen (the number of rebellion). If Adam and Even sinned on the seventh day after their creation, then they sinned on Friday the thirteenth. Interesting, no?
Written by Pastor Bob Enyart, Denver Bible Church, Arvada, Colorado.