Life and death questions are in this year as we received a number asking about what animals ate in the original created world described in Genesis, where there was no death.

Question “Birds such as woodpeckers, seem very well designed to eat grubs and insects, so what would they have eaten in the Edenic world?” This enquirer also shared they were confused after reading a reference to insects on another creation group’s website, which stated invertebrates were not really “living creatures” in the Biblical sense, and therefore could have been eaten in the same way plants could.

Our Answer: Invertebrates are animals that don’t have backbones and include worms, insects, crabs, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, slaters, snails and slugs. A good catch-all description of these creatures would be “creepy-crawlies” – quite close to Bible’s description of one group of “living creature” included in the creation of the land dwelling animals. (Genesis 1: 24)

The term “living creature” is derived from a Hebrew word nephesh meaning breath. Genesis 1:24-25 tells us that God created livestock, beasts of the earth and creeping things. Invertebrates are among the creeping things, or, as in some translations, creatures that crawl on the ground.

After God created the first man and woman he told them what they and the animals could eat. The animals are again listed in these same three categories (livestock, beasts of the earth and creeping things), and along with the flying creatures, they are further described as being creatures with the breath of life, i.e. nephesh, in them. (Genesis 1:30) The animals and birds are told to eat plants. Plants are never described as having nephesh or breath of life.

The animals that came to Noah to be kept alive on the ark are also described in these three categories, and as having the breath of life in them. (Genesis 6:17-20, 7:14-15) After Noah’s Flood, God gave mankind permission to eat all the “moving things that live”, i.e. birds and animals. However, there is one strict proviso for being allowed to eat meat – man must not eat meat with its lifeblood in it, because the life, i.e. nephesh, is in the blood. (Genesis 9:2-4) God’s instructions indicate that all the “moving things that live”, including the creeping things, contain lifeblood, and are different from the plants that God had previously given man to eat. To affirm this was His meaning, God further qualified His statement by contrasting the things that move with the green plants that don’t (Genesis 9:3).

By putting together God’s instructions about living creatures we can summarise that they are creatures with breath and blood. Invertebrates breathe and have blood, i.e. fluid carrying dissolved gases, nutrients and waste products, body defence cells (white blood cells) and proteins that are actively pumped around the body. They are therefore “living creatures” or creatures with nephesh. This means that in the original very good world man, animals or birds did not eat invertebrates or kill them. Plant sap pales in complexity compared to blood.

Some people have suggested that it would have been impossible for Adam to have avoided squashing a few bugs as he walked on the ground or worked in the garden. But think about what a “very good” world would be like. This was a world of lush vegetation and deep rich soils. Bugs could quickly move to a place of safety when they were aware of Adam and Eve walking on the ground or picking fruit from the trees. We know from the fossil record that some insects and other invertebrates were quite large, so people would have no trouble seeing them and avoiding them. Along with this is the fascinating fossil data that the fossil record reveals that some invertebrates such as slaters, ants, dragonflies, mosquitoes etc. were so large, Adam would have had to step up to even stand on them. Therefore, people would have no trouble seeing them and avoiding them.

All plants and animals lived in perfectly sustainable proportions. Insects and other bugs would not have existed in the nuisance numbers they are now, and would not have attacked or annoyed people or ravaged the vegetation, so there was no temptation to swat them or kill them. Therefore, like all living creatures, invertebrates would not have died before the Fall of Man, when death came into the world, and no other animals or birds would have eaten them.

Our Conclusion: The Bible does make a distinction between the life of plants and animals, but there is no basis for classifying invertebrates with plants rather than animals, and therefore, not having the same life as animals. The Bible also treats plants as foundation machinery for all other creatures to eat and the concept of death does not apply to them. It’s one reason nobody feels sorry for the apple they just ate, and why some people are so life-sensitive they are not only vegetarian, they won’t even squash a bug or a butterfly. (Ref. diet, biology, environment)

Evidence News 22 September 2010

For more information see the Creation Research article Biblical Biology: Question of Life and Death. PDF here.

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