Death. Disease. Predation. Extinction. Natural disasters. According to theistic evolutionists, these natural evils have been around since God kickstarted evolution’s work billions of years ago.
But does this idea line up with Scripture? Did death and suffering occur before Adam and Eve sinned? Let’s see what the Bible says.
Is Death for Billions of Years Very Good?
In order for evolution and natural selection to work, animals must die—and species must die out. Only then can other species with more physical and mental advantages continue to propagate and adapt. It’s called survival of the fittest for a reason!
This means death and suffering must have been at work for billions of years before humans came onto the scene and had a chance to sin.
But as Dr. Terry Mortenson points out, “The biblical teaching on death is very clear and consistent from Genesis to Revelation.”
After each day of Creation, God called what He had made “very good.” What does that mean? We can see in Genesis 1:29-30 that part of Creation’s “very good” state is that humans and animals were vegetarian. There was no killing for food. Animals may have started eating meat after the Fall, but God didn’t give humans permission to eat it until after Noah and his family stepped off the Ark (Genesis 9:3). Clearly, there was—at the very least—no intentional killing or suffering before Adam and Eve sinned.
God deemed earth’s original condition good. And in fact, the only thing God didn’t call good was the fact that Adam was alone. Think about that. If God called being alone “not good,” does it make sense for Him to call billions of years of death, disease, and natural disasters “very good”?
Some object to this view that death was absent until after the Fall. After all, they reason, if humans and animals ate plants, then that means there was plant death!
But Scripture never refers to plants as living creatures. “According to Genesis 1 and other Scripture passages, plants are not living in the same sense as people, animals, and birds are,” says Dr. Mortenson.
Will we trust God’s Word about the “very good” state of the earth before the Fall?
Suffering Because of Sin
It’s true that Adam and Eve’s sin created a spiritual barrier between humans and God. But their sin didn’t just affect them—it affected the rest of creation, too. God’s judgment on mankind extended to the entire world:
“Cursed is the ground because of you,” God said, “through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17b-18a, NIV).
God’s curse even affected what the land produced—thorns and thistles. There’s also evidence that the word “cursed” in this passage indicates God allowed destruction to occur on earth that didn’t occur before.
For example, after destroying the world with the Flood, God promised, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done” (Genesis 8:21, NIV).
Later on in Scripture, the apostle Paul also talks about this curse on the land.
“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:20-22, NIV).
These passages—among others (click here to learn more)—indicate that suffering, decay, death, and natural evil are a result of the Fall and God’s curse on creation, not part of God’s original created order.
Learn More About Theistic Evolution
At Answers in Genesis, we believe God’s Word holds the ultimate key to understanding our world. We can trust what the Bible says about spirituality, history, and science!
That’s why we offer thousands of helpful, entertaining videos at Answers TV to help answer some of the most common questions people have about evolution and God’s Word.
Can theistic evolution and Scripture mix? In this video, Simon Turpin, executive director of Answers in Genesis-UK, explains the consequences of injecting naturalism into the Bible. Learn how to renew your mind with God’s Word!
What if God didn’t create the world in six literal days? What if He kickstarted evolution to do the work for Him? In this five-minute video, Cal Smith explains why this idea simply doesn’t fit with Scripture.