The Origin of Predators: Part 1

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We may be in awe of predators, such as lions, but how do these types of creatures fit into God’s creation? Did God intend predators to exist? If not, where did they come from?

In my last post, I wrapped up the discussion about chameleons with the following statements: “Everything about these lizards is designed for a life as arboreal insectivores. Praise God for the diversity and design of the amazing creatures that He created.” Hopefully, those statements made sense, given the many, unique structures that chameleons possess. In spite of that, perhaps there was a different aspect about those statements that seemed a little…off. After all, in God’s original, very good creation, there were no predators. Does something like a chameleon truly reflect God’s creativity if He never intended animals to eat one another?

Before I get any further, I do want to forewarn that this post (and the next few, until this topic has been finished) will be less about science and more about theology. However, the theology we will look at is intimately related to science. If we believe that God created the world, and we at Heart of America certainly do, then what the Bible says about the original creation is very important to us. We use that information to understand the natural world around us. Now, if death only entered the world upon the sin of Adam, and we at Heart of America believe this, then we must ask the question, where did the predators come from, and did God actually design animals to kill each other?

To begin, let us look at the passages that actually tell us that animals were not eating each other in God’s original creation. First, there is Romans 5:12-14, which says,

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

To put these verses in context, Paul, the author of Romans, is building the case that all men are in need of a savior, that all men, regardless of race or nation, have sinned. He is setting this up in order to explain God’s plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. The thing we should pay attention to is that death reigned from Adam to Moses because of the sin of Adam. Now, death reigned beyond Moses as well: Paul stops there because the Law came to Israel through Moses, so Paul is pointing out that death because of sin did not begin when the Law was given, but was in effect from the original sin of Adam. Thus, death began at Adam’s sin.

Lest we think that the death Paul is talking about is limited to the death of humans alone, let us consider something Paul says later on in Romans. In Romans 8:19-22, Paul says

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

These verses make it clear that the condemnation of mankind was not limited to humans: the entire creation was affected. Lest one think that I am pulling two disparate verses from different parts of the Bible and shoving them together, Paul is on the same discussion he was on in chapter 5 (Paul could be long-winded at times). Between chapter 5 and 8, Paul moves onto how men are dead in sin but made alive in Christ, thus those who are saved should live in righteousness, are no longer subject to the condemnation of the Law, are heirs of Christ, and will receive future glorification.

Why would the creation, the world, look forward to the glorification of the saints unless it was subjected to the same curse that also rules us humans? Because it is also subject to death because of Adam’s sin. Lest it seem strange that God would condemn the whole world for the sin of one man, consider what is said in Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping them that creeps on the earth.” Mankind was created to be a caretaker of Earth, a ruler, if you will. A curse against the ruler is going to affect the subjects. That is why when God condemned Adam for his transgression, He includes this statement in Genesis 3:17-18:

And to Adam he said, Because you have listed to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

While death is not mentioned explicitly in this part of the curse, if we put together Adam’s authority over the earth, the promise of death if Adam sinned against God (Gen. 2:17), and Paul’s words about the whole world become free from bondage, then it because clear that death was never part of God’s original creation, but rather is an intrusion.

To wrap up our understanding of God’s original creation, we must look at Genesis 1:29-31:

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that have the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

God’s statement here was directed to the humans that He had created. There are two things to draw from these statements. The first is that plants are a special part of creation. There were made to be food. Thus, plants fall outside of our understanding that there was no death in God’s original creation. In other words, plants do not die the same way animals and humans die, since the former was made to be food for the latter. The second thing is that it is plain to see in these verses that carnivores did not exist in God’s original creation. While it does not say directly that animals did not die, it does make it clear that animals were not to eat each other since they were all instructed to eat plants. That is our starting point to try and figure out where carnivores came from.

Thoughts from Steven