Carson S from the US wrote:

Hello,

I have a question I’m sure not many, if any, have ever asked. I have been studying Genesis (the book) and have come to a question that has literally no real answer on the web. And it’s about death prior to the fall. I asked myself, “How could there be no death prior to Adam’s fall? Do you mean to tell me that humans never had a chance of stepping on a insect (such as a grasshopper or ant)?” I just find it hard to believe or even possible that, prior to the fall, there was no such thing as manslaughter, or any other accidental deaths like: drowning, catching on fire, falling off a cliff, etc. Your website also just had a picture of bees on the front page. You mean to tell me that bees have stingers for no reason? And if they ever used them, they wouldn’t die?

A provocative question, I hope you have the answer I need. Thank you for reading.

Lita Cosner, CMI-US, responds:

Thanks for writing in. One of the great things about being part of a millennia-old faith is that the odds of asking a new question are very low, because people have been thinking about these things for thousands of years. And there are a few aspects to the pre-Fall world that may help in thinking through these questions. You said this has no real answer on the web, but our website and publications address this issue extensively; I’ll be linking you to some articles (which I hope you read), and I will also be publishing this response on our site for the benefit of others.

First, we know that there are varying levels of sentience among various creatures. Plants seem to have no sentience at all; they are programmed wonderfully to react in response to sunlight, and even to bugs eating their leaves. But there is no capacity for communication or self-knowledge. They are basically biological ‘machines’ for converting energy into food. And in fact that is the stated purpose for plants in Genesis—to be food for humans and animals. So when we eat a salad, there is biological death involved in that, but not the cessation of a consciousness or death in a biblical sense.

Insects are another category of creatures that most creationists say could have died before the Fall with no theological problems resulting. Insects are wonderfully complex and show intricate design, but they are driven almost exclusively by instinct, and they don’t seem to have any self-awareness or capacity to feel pain, again not death in the biblical meaning. One biologist calls insects ‘God’s robots’.

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