Was There Death Before Adam’s First Sin? (Apologetics, Part 4)

Was There Death Before Adam’s First Sin? Theistic evolution, i.e., the teaching that God created the universe through evolutionary processes, inevitably requires death before Adam’s first sin. In other words, over the course of millions of years, according to this position, all forms of life gradually evolved and died, eventually culminating in the arrival of Adam – the first homo sapiens. Of course, such an understanding is completely antithetical to the biblical account. How so? Romans 6:23 clearly states “the wages of sin is death.” In short, death is the consequence of sin. Thus, in order for theistic evolution to be valid, sin would have had to have entered into the creation prior to Adam. However, the Bible is painstakingly clear that Adam by his first sin plunged the created order into sin. Romans 5:12 declares: “Wherefore, as by one man [i.e. Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned [in Adam].” The Apostle Paul likewise teaches in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22: “For since by man [i.e. Adam] came death, by man [i.e. Christ] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Romans 8:19-23 also describes how God subjected the creation “to vanity” and “the bondage of corruption” in response to Adam’s first sin. In conclusion, theistic evolution is incompatible with biblical account since Adam by his first sin plunged creation into sin and death.

2 Comments

  1. Sovereign Grace Ashburn

    This is my first time to read your blog, so you may have covered my question elsewhere. I fully agree with you that Scripture teaches that death came to the human race as a result of the sin of Adam, which is the clear teaching of Romans 5:12-21. I do not believe in theistic evolution, but a literal 6-day, 24-hour creation. My question is whether death existed in the animal creation–including insects, birds, fish, etc.–before Adam’s sin? How did Adam’s sin affect the brute creation with regard to life and death? Are there any Scripture that might shed light on this? It seems to me that some creatures were made to prey upon others for sustenance, and some were made to be preyed upon as sustenance for others. There is a constant cycle of life and death among the brute creation, and it seems to me that God must have originally designed it that way. Otherwise, the earth, sea and sky would soon be overpopulated with animals, birds, and fish. Imagine what it would be like if mosquitoes and ticks never died!! What are your thoughts on this?

    1. zmaxcey (Post author)

      Brother John, Thanks for your comment. My apologies for the delayed response. Great questions. Although Romans 8:19-23 speaks of ‘creation’ in a general sense, I would suggest that the passage teaches by implication that there was no death in the animal creation. Romans 8:19-23 states: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Granted, the passages speaks of ‘futility’, ‘bondage of corruption’, and ‘groaning’ – not ‘death’ explicitly. This passage may parallel God’s cursing of the ground in Genesis 3:17.

      Two passages seem to indicate that animal life was very different prior to the Fall and even prior to the Flood. For example, after the Flood, God placed the ‘fear’ and ‘dread’ of man “upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea” (Gen. 9:2). Prior to the Flood, animals were not afraid of humans. Furthermore, after the Flood, God gave all animals as food for mankind – the only restriction was not to eat flesh with blood in it (Gen. 9:3-4). Isaiah 65:25 seems to indicate that the predator-prey relationships (that we now see) did not exist prior to the Fall. Isaiah 65:17-25 constitutes, in my estimation, the prophet’s description of the new heavens and the new earth in Old Testament language. Isaiah 65:25 declares: “‘The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,’” says the LORD.” Of course, the question arises as to what degree are we to understand this passage literally, especially in light of “the dust shall be the serpent’s food.” This particular phrase could be a figurative description of the Serpent’s defeat, or it could be understood in a more literal sense – strictly in the sense, that snakes do smell via their Jacobson’s organ by sampling dust particles with their tongue. Understood more literally, this passage may evince that predator-prey relationships among animals did not exist prior to the Fall.

      The “cycle of life and death among the brute creation” is, admittedly, very complex. Without question, God has providentially directed the development of this cycle as the Creator and Sustainer of all life with unfathomable wisdom. That being said, I personally hold that God did not originally design His creation that way. If these predator-prey relationships did not exist prior to the Fall, would the earth, sea, and sky soon be overpopulated with animals, birds, and fish? Perhaps. There are a lot of factors involved in answering this question that God’s Word simply does not tell us. First, God’s Word simply does not give us an exhaustive amount of information regarding pre-Fall conditions. There are many things we simply do not know about pre-Fall life on earth. Second, God’s Word does not tell us how much time elapsed between the Creation and the Fall. Was it a month, a year, thirty-three years, or one hundred years? We do not know. Third, Scripture does not tell us that God created all sub-human life at a full capacity. In fact, God’s Word may indicate otherwise in that He blessed the sea creatures and the birds of the sky with the following words, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” Again, great questions, my brother.

      Yours in Christ,

      Zach

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