When did God Make Carnivorous Animals?

Genesis 1 describes God’s creation of all things, including the creation of every kind of animal. In Genesis 1:30 God says, “To every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food.” God then declared the entire creation to be “very good.” Initially all animals were plant eaters.

Genesis 3 records the rebellion of humanity against God and the subsequent curse that fell on all the world. Many conservative Bible teachers believe animals began to eat meat as a result of the curse. The Bible does not say when certain animals began to be carnivorous. Passages like Isaiah 11 which speak of carnivores being restored to their original herbivorous condition and Romans 5 which says death came because man sinned. These passages lead to the conclusion that no animal ate the flesh of another until after man sinned. After man’s sin some animals became carnivorous. Whether the transition to carnivory was gradual or instant is unknown.

Those who study zoology (the science of animals) know the digestive system of a meat eater is quite different from that of a plant eater. To survive on a meat based diet the creature has to be able to eat and digest the meat. This requires unique features in the teeth, jaws, stomachs or intestines of carnivores. When God cursed the world did He renovate the innards of certain animals so they could begin to eat meat? The Bible does not say.

Most carnivores are able to live on a plant based diet. Relatively few obligate carnivores (meat eaters which can only survive on a predominantly meat based diet) exist. Cats, snakes and lizards are a few kinds of obligate carnivores. The majority of meat eating animals also have a diet containing a large percentage of plant based foods. Bears, dogs and apes are carnivores which also eat varying amounts of plant matter. A slow transition to carnivory can be imagined for those animals which are not obligate carnivores. Conditions in the cursed world may have required them to begin eating meat and the process of adaptation allowed those better able to process meat to survive and pass on their unique genetic features. Knowing man was going to sin God could have built into the genetic structure of many creatures the ability to process meat.

God could also have redesigned many animals at the same time He redesigned certain plants to bear thorns and thistles. A Divine re-plumbing of certain creatures to enable them to survive on meat is not an unreasonable assumption. The curse of Satan included a radical redesign of snake structure. The serpent was created with legs, but was cursed to crawl on its belly. For this to be a sustainable transformation something greater than mere amputation had to happen. The structures supporting the leg bones, muscles and tendons had to be removed and new structures put in place (assuming they were not already present) that allowed the snake’s muscles to push its scales backward, thus propelling the animal forward. This design change also required a change of the animals DNA or only the first generation of cursed snakes would have been legless. If God had not changed the serpent’s DNA its offspring would have been legged because the genetic code would have included the originally created instructions to form the the embryo according to the originally created, legged design. God’s curse of the serpent shows that the effects of the curse were much greater than might be thought. Thus, speculating Diving intervention to massively redesign other animals is not unreasonable.

Nothing can be said with certainty about how and when animals began to eat other animals. The Bible does not tell those details. The Bible does tell of a time when that process will be reversed. Isaiah 11 describes the conditions of the world after the return of Jesus to establish His kingdom on this earth. During that kingdom, “The cow and the bear will graze” and “the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” (Isaiah 11:7) When Jesus rules on the earth He will renovate the world to remove much of the curse. He will radically alter the behavior and internal physical structures of animals so even obligate carnivores will eat hay. Who is to say He did not perform similar alterations when He cursed the world because of sin?


When Did Satan Sin?

The Biblical account of Adam and Eve’s sin describes a serpent tempting Eve to disobey God. This serpent is understood to be Satan. (Revelation 12:9; 20:2) Satan is the originator of sin, but he was not created sinful. (Ezekiel 28:15) Satan was created perfect by God, and sometime after his creation he sinned. When did this happen?

The Bible does not give a definitive answer to this question, but Scripture does give a few indicators that help identify the time period in which Satan sinned. Ezekiel 28 says that Satan was in the Garden of Eden, was beautiful, was one of the cherubim surrounding God’s throne and was perfect until the day he sinned. Isaiah says Satan’s first sin was an arrogant desire to become greater than God. (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Satan’s sin must have taken place sometime after the sixth day of creation. Satan could not have fallen before the events described in Genesis 1 because the Bible says that God created all things in six days. (Exodus 20:11) The angels were most likely created on the first day of creation when God created Heaven and Earth, since the angels watched the creation of the earth from the beginning. (Job 38:7) Satan is an angel and must have been created at the same time as the rest of the angelic creatures.

Satan must have sinned after the six days of creation because Genesis 1:31 says that at the end of the sixth day, “God saw everything that He had made and behold it was very good.” Nothing in the context of Genesis 1 limits Genesis 1:31 to only the things God had made on the earth, or only the things in the garden of Eden. Genesis 1 starts with, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and continues with an unbroken sequence of Divine creative acts in which God made all things. Therefore, everything in heaven and earth must be included in the evaluation, “very good.” A sinful, rebellious angel would not be considered by the Holy God to be “very good.”

Satan sinned sometime after the creation week and before the sin of Adam and Eve. The Bible does not tell how much time elapsed between creation and the fall. Some scholars think Adam may not have sinned until nearly 100 years after creation, because he fathered Seth at the age of 130 years. Cain and Abel were born after Adam and Eve sinned and then grew to adulthood before Cain killed Abel. After Abel’s murder and Cain’s exile Eve gave birth to Seth. Therefore, Adam could have been as old as 100 when they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. The Bible does not tell how much time elapsed between Satan’s fall and the temptation of Adam and Eve. Satan’s rebellion against God could have been as late as 100 years after creation.

The fact that Lucifer ministered around the throne of God suggests that some time elapsed after creation before Satan sinned. He probably did not rebel on the 8th day of the world’s existence. Satan sinned sometime after the creation was completed but before Adam and Eve sinned. Satan was not created sinful, but in his pride he rebelled against his Creator.

Does it matter how old the earth is?

A person’s belief of the age of the earth reflects a belief system. Priority is given to either the claims of science or the claims of the Bible. The age of the earth matters for the Christian because of what the Bible says about the origin of the earth, of humanity and of suffering. If the Bible is not historically accurate about the age of the earth then it’s reliability regarding the sin of man is suspect.

The inclusion of a long period of time before the creation week recorded in Genesis 1 does great damage to the literal reading of Genesis 1-3. An earth populated with animals for millions of years before the creation week presents significant theological problems concerning death, decay and destruction. If the fossil record is the record of an ancient earth that existed before Adam and Eve, then death and disease were common before the events recorded in Genesis 3. If death existed before sin, then death is not the punishment of sin. If suffering existed before the creation of man, then suffering is not a consequence of sin.

If the earth is millions or billions of years old, there is much in earth’s history that is not revealed in the Bible. While the Bible never attempts to present a full history of all mankind- it does not contain the history of China, Greenland or South America the Bible does present a history of the origin of the world, the formation of humans and the spread of sin. If the Bible leaves out huge gulfs of time, there is abundant space to question the reliability of the Bible for understanding the nature of humanity. If the historical record of the Bible has major gaps, then that calls into question the BIble as a valid historical record. This matters because sin, salvation and the promises of God are connected to a historical context. Jesus is a historical figure whose history is traced from person to person all the way back to a historical Adam. If the Bible is not reliable as a history book, does it present an accurate historical picture of Jesus?

This question matters because it shapes how a person reads the Bible. If the Bible is a reliable historical record, then great weight will be placed upon its genealogies and historical markers. If the Bible is not to be read literally, or if its history is a series of homilies intended to teach spiritual truths, then the chronological data in the Bible will have little importance in the discussion of the age of the earth. This question matters because the inclusion of millions of years into the history of man undermines the reliability of the Bible when it discusses the origins of sin and suffering. If the Bible cannot be trusted as an accurate historical record of the earliest days of man, can it be trusted when it discusses Abraham and Moses, Israel, Babylon, the Roman Empire, the apostles or Jesus? If the Bible does not present in Genesis an accurate, literal record of the history of the world, when does it begin to do so? If the Bible is not trustworthy to teach of how man sinned, how can it be trustworthy to teach how man is saved?

Does the age of the earth matter?

Creationists insist the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Evolutionists and theistic evolutionists insist the earth is much older, about 4.5 billion years older. The disagreement over the age of the earth is just one part of a much larger debate about the origins of the universe and the formation of humanity. Why do some Christians make such a huge deal about the age of the earth? Does it really matter to Christianity if the earth is a few thousand, a few million or a few billion years old?

Many people are familiar with the basis for believing the earth is very old. Various techniques calculate the age of the earth from the amount of radioactive elements remaining rock. This process measures the difference between how much of a particular element (like Uranium) was originally in the rock and how much is present in that rock today. Because the rate of decay from a radioactive to a stable element is known an estimated age of the rock can be calculated. Calculations have yielded ages of rocks over 4 billion years.

Those who believe the earth is young base that conclusion on the historical information included in the Bible and the work of men like James Ussher. In the 1600’s Ussher, the Archbishop of the Anglican church in Ireland, used the Bible to create a detailed chronology of mankind. He added together the genealogies listed in Scritpure, calculated the length of time from Abraham to Moses and from the Exodus to the Babylonian captivity. He concluded the Biblical data showed that the earth was created 4,004 years before the birth of Jesus. Other Biblical scholars have examined Ussher’s chronology and the Biblical data. Though some have come up with different dates for creation (J.B. Lightfoot concluded the earth was created 3,929 years before Jesus), many have reached the conclusion that the Bible puts the creation of the earth approximately four thousand years before Jesus’ birth.

The question of the age of the earth cannot be answered in isolation from presuppositions and interpretations. None are unbiased observers. The presupposition that elements present in a rock today can be used to determine the age of the earth requires the scientist to presume the earth formed through natural processes without Divine intervention. The supposition of a Creator immediately affects the examiners ability to understand the results. For example, a Creator could have created rock with quantities of radioactive isotopes and stable elements that give the appearance of greater age. The presupposition that a Creator made everything opens the scientist to the possibility that the Creator revealed Himself to man in some way. Thus, a holy text, like the Bible or the Qoran, which claims to be the very words of the Creator gave much importance in considering the origins of the universe. How a person answers the age of the earth reflects a belief system, or at least, it reflects the influence of a belief system. The age of the earth matters because what one believes about the existence of a Creator matters.

To be continued . . .

Is Belief in a Historical Adam Necessary for Salvation?

One of the major issues facing the church today is the debate over the creation of the universe. Much of this conflict centers around whether or not the earth was created by God in a span of six days less than ten thousand years ago. Sometimes this discussion focuses on the existence of a real, historical figure named Adam who was the first human being and the paternal ancestor of all other humans.

In order to be saved does someone have to believe Adam existed? This is no trivial question. The existence of Adam has a direct relation to the story of creation and is applied to key teachings about salvation. Believing in the existence of a historical Adam is not in the same category as believing Gideon led 300 Israelites in successful battle against 135,000 Midianites.

The Bible does not teach that a positive confession of six day creationism or the existence of a historical Adam is necessary for a person to be saved. One can be saved without having given great thought to the genuineness of the existence of Adam.

What about one who denies the existence of a historical Adam? The one who believes God used evolution to create all things is not necessarily excluded from salvation. One may believe Adam is an allegorical character used in the Bible to teach of the awfulness of sin. One may believe that Adam and Eve were the first hominids to be given a soul. One may believe Adam is pure myth and still be saved. However, major theological problems arise when a person denies the existence of a literal Adam and a literal, recent creation.

Romans 5 says that “by one man that sin entered into the world.” The Bible traces the guilt of humanity back to Adam. Because of Adam’s sin all humanity is condemned in sin. If Adam did not exist as described in Genesis the entrance of sin into the world has no explanation. The common sinfulness of all mankind has no basis. If Adam is not a real, historical figure the Biblical truth of sin is undermined.

Adam is a picture of Jesus. (Romans 5:14) Adam pictures Jesus in this way: he acted as the representative for all humanity. In 1 Corinthians 15 the saving work of Jesus is shown to be directly related to the condemning deed of Adam. Just as by Adam’s sin were all men made sinners and brought under the consequences of sin so by Jesus’ death and resurrection all those in Christ are made righteous and given life. If all men were not actually in Adam then the death and resurrection of Jesus is insufficient to redeem all men.

Jesus is the last Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:45) Like the first Adam Jesus stands in the place of all humanity. He is able to be mankind’s substitute who suffers the punishment of sin in place of men because He is the physical descendant of Adam and shares the same humanity as all mankind. If there is no literal Adam the doctrines of man’s sin and Jesus’ substitutionary atonement are compromised.

How did Kangaroos get to Australia?

The flood of Noah and its immediate aftermath is described in Genesis chapters six through nine. Those familiar with the story know that God determined to destroy every man and beast on the earth with a flood. Noah and his immediate family were the only humans to be saved from destruction. God instructed Noah to build a large boat in which his family and two of every animal kind (That’s not a typo. Two of every animal kind, not two of every kind of animal.) were to be saved. Noah built the ark, the heavens opened, the earth flooded and the earth was buried under the waters. A year later Noah opened the door and everyone ventured out into a very different earth. From the Middle Eastern mountains of Ararat man and animals spread across the world.

This raises many specific questions about how plants and animals could spread to every corner of the globe. How the animals spread from the Middle East across the European, African and Asian continents is easy to understand. Since a land bridge existed between Russia and Alaska it is easy to see how wildlife could reach the American continents. Australia is separated from the rest of the continents and poses a more difficult challenge.

In Genesis 10 the Bible tells a little bit about the dispersal of humanity but says nothing about the spread of plants and animals. The Bible says nothing about the continent of Australia. Does this prove the Bible is unreliable in guiding our understanding of the earth’s history? Of course not. No Christian believes the Bible teaches about every subject. Those who uphold the authority of the Bible believe that when the Bible does speak about a subject everything it says is accurate.

Starting with the premise that the Bible’s description of world events is accurate then an explanation can be formed that provides a reasonable means for kangaroos to hop to Australia. In Genesis 8:17 God commanded Noah to bring all the animals out of the ark, “that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth”. God intended for wildlife to spread and multiply across the entire world. He worked in the world to fill the entire globe with all manner of wildlife.

But what about the kangaroos? How did they get to Australia? Some have suggested that animals floated to Australia on large rafts of plants and trees. The flood waters would not have buried all every piece of refuse torn up during the flood. Possibly large rafts of logs and debris were floating on the oceans of the world. Such rafts would have helped transport animals to more remote places. Others have suggested that man brought animals to Australia with him when he colonized the continent. These are both plausible suggestions, but another one seems most reasonable.

The cataclysm of the flood caused significant changes in the atmosphere and the ocean waters. These changes resulted in the ice age. During the ice age huge quantities of water were trapped in the ice sheets lowering ocean levels and exposing significant land bridges. One such bridge would have extended from southeast Asia to northern Australia and provided a thoroughfare for kangaroos to hop to Australia. While this may not be what happened, it gives a plausible explanation that lines up with what the Bible teaches. The presence of kangaroos down under does not undermine the Bible. God worked through natural mechanisms to spread animals across the globe even the funny animals of Australia.