By Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
First Published 17 January 2003
One of the claims by young earth creationists is that there was no human or animal death before the fall of man. This is based upon several Bible verses. The first is Genesis 1:29-30, which states, "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, where-in there is life, I have given every green herb for meat; and it was so." We will discuss a second verse, Romans 5:12, a little later.
I'm sure you will agree with me that God created all the animals. And, you must also agree with me that since God created them, then they must be created perfectly to fit into the ecosystem the way that God designed. So far, this is all perfectly logical.
In the garden of Eden, man and beast were given plants to eat as their food. This is critical to the belief of a young earth creationist. If carnivores were given plants to eat, then they must have eaten only plants. This is why they believe there was no death before the Fall of man, because even the carnivores were plant-eaters.
I agree, the Bible clearly states that all animals were given the plants of the earth to eat. However, the interpretation of this verse to mean that "all animals" did in fact eat nothing but grass causes a huge problem for the young-earth creationist. The problem it raises is this…if all the animals were created as plant-eaters, then there must have been lions, tigers, etc., that had molar teeth for chewing plants. You may laugh, but think about it. God created perfect animals, right? If they were created as perfect animals, then God would not have given them inefficient teeth for eating plant material. He intended all animals in the Garden to eat plants, and they could not have been efficient plant-eaters with their canine teeth. So, has anyone found any fossil skeletons of lions with molars? Absolutely not!
You may say that there are animals today with canine teeth, that eat nothing but plants. Yes, this is true, however this is the exception, and not the rule. And in most cases, these animals are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals. Is it possible that the lion (and others) ate nothing but plants before the Fall? Sure, anything is possible. Is it probable…not very likely.
Moving on now, lets consider this possibility. If they were created as perfect plant feeders, then how did so many animals come to have canine teeth? Did they evolve after they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden? If so, are we are talking about an evolutionary rate of development for the molar teeth-to-canine teeth that is faster than what most non-Christian evolutionists propose? This would sink any theory that evolution is not possible. I don’t know, and can’t speak to this ‘evolution’ problem…I simply offer it as food for thought. And you can't say that God changed all their teeth to canines immediately after the Fall of man, because after the Fall we are in the seventh day, God's day of rest after the creation was completed. Would this be new creation event occurring on God's day of rest? More food for thought.
At this point, it is important to consider that many young earth creationists deny the evolution of molar to canine teeth, instead opting to believe that the animals prior to the Fall of man ate plants with their canine teeth. Some, such as creation science advocate Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, in his book The Answers Book, talks around the issue of teeth (and claws), proposing several possible scenarios, ending with the conclusion that there isn’t enough evidence to conclusively prove either of the proposals (Page 105-110).
It is obvious to me that the carnivores we have today were designed by God to eat meat. Of course, young earth creation science proponents may try to explain that there was a meat-bearing plant (???) or that God knew that the fall would occur, and thus created them for the post-fall environment. We can't confirm this because we have no idea how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden before the fall occurred. If this is the case, these meat-eating animals starved until after the fall! And given the number of animals that Adam had to name, they probably would have died before the Fall.
Let's take this even farther. Young earth creationists say the dinosaurs were here from the Garden of Eden until the Flood, or sometime after the Flood. So now we have a 10-ton Tyrannosaurus Rex, which has teeth and jaws specifically designed for killing, eating nothing but grass from the time it was created until after the Fall of man. Of course, the T-Rex in the Garden of Eden would have needed molars to survive the pre-Fall of man era. And then you have Raptors, which God designed with sharp teeth and a recurved claw designed specifically for tearing flesh during an attack. This claw was useless when it comes to eating grass! Nobody has ever discovered a T-Rex with molars, nor a raptor with molars and no recurve claw. Could these animals have survived by eating only plants as young earth creationists claim…sure they could. However, being created as plant eaters with canines, they would be imperfect creations. (Some claim that God was looking ahead to the Fall of man, and created them for the post-fall world, knowing in advance that it would not take man long to sin.)
Of course, I haven't even mentioned the many other carnivores with canine teeth...all cats, dogs, wolves, raccoons, etc. Oh, and what about sharks? If there was no death before the Fall, and God created sharks on Day 5, then what did they eat? I suppose they could have eaten plants also, in the form of seaweed.
Now that you have heard the logic of this argument, what is the answer?
Some young earth creation science proponents argue that these carnivorous animals developed (i.e. evolved) within a few hundred years after the fall of man (John D. Morris of the Institute for Creation Research)1. (It is important to note that he has apparently gone away from this belief…see footnote). However, it is hard to believe that these young earth creationists propose that the animals "evolved" in order to make it fit into the young-earth model. In doing so, they violate their belief that evolution is impossible by actually using evolution to explain this problem. (I realize they claim that evolution means no new genetic material. Some young earth creationists have introduced a theory which says these features were part of the original genetic material, but were dormant until after the fall.) (NOTE: Not all young earth creationists think canine teeth developed after the Fall of man…some believe they processed plant material with their canine teeth prior to Adam’s sin)
Before we conclude, lets also consider musculature. For an example, let’s consider the Cheetah. It is built for speed, to catch its prey. That is the only reason for its specific muscle and bone design. Unless there were plants that it ate in the Garden of Eden that could run 60 miles an hour, it had no need for this design. If it were designed perfectly by God, it didn’t need this for plants, therefore it must have developed this musculature after the Garden.
Of course, there’s one oversight in the argument that there was no death before the fall. The Bible says that God gave the green plants to all animals to eat. Nowhere does the Bible say that animals "cannot" eat meat...it only says they were given grass to eat. Also, nowhere does the Bible claim that there was no physical death before sin…it is inferred from this text and from Romans 5:12, which states, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." While it is true that Adam's sin brought the process of death to mankind (man in God's image), there is no indication that animal death also started with Adam. Two points must be studied here. First, the passage refers to man, sin, and death. The animals cannot sin. God is referring to man, not animals. Second, the Garden of Eden must be examined. The Garden was a special place, not like the rest of the world. It was a vision of paradise, so that man would know what he lost. Personally, I believe there was death and decay outside the Garden, but inside the Garden all the animals were peaceful.
The existence of animals with canine teeth is apparently contrary to the belief that there was no death before the Fall of man. Is the development of canine teeth from molar teeth in a few hundred years, as proposed by some young-earth creationists, feasible? And, would this be considered evolution? Clearly, there are issues here for the young-earth creationist to address.
Concerning this article, critics have said teeth do not indicate diet. However, this is an argument from necessity. Young earth creationists must prove this point, or else their world collapses. It is not science driving their conclusions, it is the requirement that their conclusion support their cause. They have already determined, before examining the evidence, that teeth do not indicate diet. This is science in reverse. Scientists are supposed to examine the evidence, and then come to a conclusion…not the other way around!
Yes, there are some animals today that have canine teeth and eat plants. However, they are the exception rather than the rule. Most canine-teethed animals eat meat.
1 “If All Animals Were Created as Plant Eaters, Why Do Some Have Sharp Teeth" by John D. Morris, Back to Genesis, No. 100, April 1997, page d. (NOTE: The original web article this is based on has been condensed, as of 22 October 03. The portion that claims that teeth developed after the Fall of Man is no longer available on the ICR website. Note the original reference was for Page D, but there is no longer a page D available! For another alternative to this removed article, see this ICR article, and this Creation Evidence Museum article (click on FAQ).
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