06 Why did animals seem designed for conditions after the fall if they were created for a perfect world?

After high school and college I enrolled at Bishop’s University to pursue my interests in biology. To my great surprise, I did well academically for the first time in my life. But I also found that my studies in biology created a continual tension in my mind. An important part of the creationist program was to discredit research related to the possibility of change through time. So when, as was inevitable, I took courses where evolutionary concepts were treated, I regarded them with great suspicion, and I was very critical.

This criticism, I recognize now, was not aimed at improving the paradigm by which biologists understood the natural world, but simply at destroying its credibility so as to replace it with strict creationist doctrine. Outside of class I would occasionally argue with students, championing the creationist view.

One of the other major fissures in the creationist foundation, which grew as I became more sensitive to the functional anatomies of organisms, centered largely on the differences that exist between predators and prey, carnivores and herbivores.   Why were predatory organisms so well suited for hunting, capturing and killing their prey, whereas prey organisms, on the other hand, were frequently remarkably well designed for avoiding, hiding, or running from predators?   These were not just behavioral differences, they were fundamental differences in anatomy and physiology.

This question troubled me because I knew from my creationist readings that prior to Adam and Eve eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, no animal had ever died on earth. Before the fall, organisms must have been either autotrophs, which made their own food (like green plants), or herbivores, that is, plant-eaters. (The death of plant cells did not count as real death.)   It was far easier for me to accept that evolution had not occurred than for me to believe that there had been no death prior to the “Fall of Man.”

Huge killer dinosaurs, sharp-toothed sharks, cats, and web-spinning spiders: I could fill this post and many more with the amazing designs which enable animals to kill. Had God not designed these amazing killers? But perhaps they had not been created that way originally. If not, then what had they looked like prior to “the Fall?”

Reconstructed skeleton of the extinct giant shark, Carcharocles megalodon, at the Calvert Marine Museum on Solomons, Maryland. Sharks have never been herbivorous. Photo by S. Godfrey.

And why would an animal need to have an immune system? No microorganism could have killed it by way of infection. Why would so many animals be camouflaged, or why would so many non-poisonous animals mimic toxic or poisonous ones, if they could not die?   Why would there be animals with toxic stings or bites? These would not have been needed as part of the original creation.

What would animals look like if they could not die? Certainly not like the ones we know today, whose organismal anatomy is largely, if not entirely, geared to avoiding death and sustaining life. What did carnivorous plants look like before the Fall? Where did these remarkable designs come from, and when were they created? One question led to another, but I could find no credible answers in creationist literature.

Organisms are carnivorous not because of a choice they made at some point in life but because their fundamental design enables them to be. There is an incredible array of carnivorous designs. Many of them employ one or more of the following features to capture and kill prey: greater speed, pointed teeth, sharp claws, higher intelligence, and the ability to build traps, display lures, ambush, or inject venoms and toxins. Illustration by S. Godfrey.

At about this time, I attended a creationist seminar series hosted by a Baptist extension seminary in Montreal, Quebec. Dr. Duane T. Gish, the young-earth creationist whom I greatly admired, was the speaker. During one of our corridor conversations, he mentioned that many organisms may have been converted by God from eating plants to eating meat when Adam and Eve sinned. However, he had to admit that the Bible was silent on this matter.

So if the Bible was silent on this purported divinely-orchestrated transformation, what other literary source was I to turn to, to shed light on this fantastic and profound change in the biology of life? I knew of none.

2 thoughts on “06 Why did animals seem designed for conditions after the fall if they were created for a perfect world?”

  1. In the paragraph above the cat and mouse picture you have an extra “Would” in the sentence:
    What would animals would look like if they could not die?


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