Death before the Fall

I dont think the actual timeframe is the issue. The issue is how to explain natural and moral evil as a product of a perfect God where the Scriptures guide ones mind to the idea that these are instead a product of the fall of man. Your old earth model attributes death, disease and suffering to the character of God. If death and suffering are attributes associated w the character of God, then a gospel that saves us from this and towards life is confused and drastically diminished.

I of course follow old earth theologians, but i am unsure if they have truly thought thru the implications. I have been wondering if new “old earth” models would be more true to the Scriptural basis as a whole but not sure that i have seen one yet.

What was his purpose in creation? (Don’t forget that he had two creations in mind from ‘before’ the first.)

I think you have switched issues. :slightly_smiling_face:

Some say that God creates humanity because He wanted to have fellowship w us. I dont see any justification for this. I see God creating to illuminate His essence as a perfect, holy, righteous God without any single bit of error. If natural evil and disease ridden creatures are His handiwork as a direct manifestation of His nature alone, then His creation pictures who He is.

God created man in his image with qualities of volition as He has himself. The fall of mankind as a volitional creation made in Gods image was so tragic that the Bible says,that the creation around him was even subjected to futility.

Any other scenario misses the mark of this Biblical picture that rises to the glory of the gospel that saves us from such sin and futility which additionally illuminates us about a God who is not only perfect and pure of any form of evil, but who is also a redeamor of people who would otherwise be subjected to the ramifications of his fall from grace in the garden

God’s motivation and his purposes are really quite understandable, and purpose for our lives is also involved in his. One of God’s purposes is to increase and share his joy – he is happy in himself.* He is a good Father, and one of the ways of increasing his joy is by enlarging his family. He gets joy for himself in our pride in him as our Father, and in our joy in reciprocated familial love. Notice that we get joy, too.

God intended two creations from the start.** Without death and evil in his first creation, we could not understand and fully love him for his justice, mercy, grace and love to us through the Lord, Jesus, the Christ. Jesus’ motivation is also explicit and clear, and it was forward looking***: “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Hebrews 12:2. That joy is us(!), if you are a Christian.

The New Earth will be perfect, and without evil.

*See The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God - Kindle edition by John Piper. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @
**"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Matthew 25:34
***Our motivation should be forward looking, too, toward future grace. Future Grace, Revised Edition: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God - Kindle edition by John Piper. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @

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I agree. I’m interested in the “death before the fall” issue that @Greg has raised. It seems to be important enough that @Greg considers it more important than the timeframe of creation.

There have been a few other threads on this topic before that I want to link in:

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Does creating human beings that he knows will absolutely fail and cause all this evil (including natural disasters and disease and death) really get God “off the hook”?

If I give one of my freshman chemistry students a graduate quantum mechanics exam and they fail, am I justified in saying it was their fault and not mine? What do you think the chances were for Adam and Eve? I’m just curious, I don’t really have an answer here.

I have studied theology for years and adjusted my views over the years. I am more and more convinced that Christianity only makes sense when God is always positioned as 100% perfectly holy, just, loving Father who does not make mistakes. An animal dying of genetic mutations in the form of cancer to me is a mistake. The existence of forms of natural evils such as forest fires that can cause tremendous suffering and death also does not seem of the essence of such a God either. When Adam and Eve sinned, THEN misery comes upon the earth.

The reason i believe that this interpretation is fair game is because the Bible states that those gospel believers will one day inhabit the earth as physical beings where death is again no longer. Predators and prey no longer enemies. The sense of the new earth is that no longer natural evil of forest fires, volcanoes, hurricanes to worry about that can kill and destroy. It seems that man is returned to eden as if before the fall…the eden of peace and goodness as truly part of Gods nature

How is creating Adam & Eve, who God knew would sin, not a mistake?


I understand what you mean here. Thought long and hard on this. God created man unique in that they are more significantly capable of illuminating Gods glory because they are more like Him as made in His image. But we are not God either. We are just reflectors of Him. And God is a God with volitional capabilities so he made man the same. However, God wanted it to be clear that even creatures who are made in His image are not He himself and should never choose this route by their volitional qualities! So He gave man the ability to choose but also the ability to choose to not try to be who they are not, namely God. Remember the temptation in the garden- “you can be like God” then of course the fall.

So Gods nature is never evil. He cannot create evil. But He did create agents meant for His glory with the ability to choose that which is contrary to who He is. When they chose wrongly, they make evil and introduce a world of futility.

So that is my take. There is more to this and none of us will understand fully until heaven. In the meantime, i believe best to steer clear of any insinuation that any form of evil be created by God or allowed by God outside of the period of time we call the fall of man. After the fall, God of course reigns down forms of wrath, general natural evils mixed w His patience to remind us that we are fallen creatures in need of a Savior.

Not if that death ultimately points to God’s glory. See above.

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@jongarvey has a nice collection of discussions on this topic… featuring the Greek Irenaeus!:

" The formalized Christian doctrine of original sin was first developed in the 2nd century by Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyon, in his struggle against Gnosticism.[2] Irenaeus contrasted their doctrine with the view that the Fall was a step in the wrong direction by Adam, with whom, Irenaeus believed, his descendants had some solidarity or identity."[20]

“However, Irenaeus did not believe that Adam’s sin was as severe as later tradition would hold, and he was not wholly clear about its consequences.[21] While the belief that all human beings participate in Adam’s sin and share his guilt are not totally foreign concepts for Irenaeus, still his doctrine of Original Sin is rather mild compared with what would later be found in the writings of Augustine.”

“One recurring theme in Irenaeus is his view that Adam, in his transgression, is essentially a child who merely partook of the tree ahead of his time.[22] For Irenaeus, knowing good and evil was an integral aspect of human nature; the ‘sin’ of Adam was snatching at the fruit of the tree rather than waiting for it as a gift from God.[23]

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Death and destruction and mistakes and disease just simply created by God before the fall of man reveal his glory as a disease, destruction maker. On the other hand, disease, destruction, mutations in nature all a result of the fall of man who voluntarily chose to try to take on God and be self sovereign gods themselves reveals a glory of God of justice against such evil and ultimately reveals the glory of God as an atoning God who is still willing to sacrifice Himself to forgive us of our sin and mercy that saves us from the wrath we deserve.

The latter characterization of God is who we will find in heaven. The former depiction is non existent and is more a characterization of his enemy.

Im pretty sure the apostle Paul wrote opinions on this matter in places like what is recorded in Romans ch 5 about original sin then throughout the rest of Romans about the implications of sin and need for repentance from sin and forgiveness by grace long before Irenaeus existed. So the questions we need to be asking are ones such as what exactly do the actual apostles say about original sin? And what do the actual apostles say in confrontation of gnosticism? Are we potentially questioning the legitimacy of determining which apostles were legit and which were not perhaps? Are we prepared to discuss whether Paul should be considered an actual spokesman for God?

If you don’t look past the immediate. That’s the way the world looks at Jesus’ death.

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Greg, you frequently comment on an omniscient, omnipotent God of whom we can only comprehend very little - and I agree with you. But you also suddenly self-determine that the God you admittedly cannot comprehend could not possibly include death and disease as part of His creation. Do you realize this is inconsistent argumentation?

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that states that mutations or disease are results of the fall of man. You are not the only one to argue this, but this is another example of YEC-style argumentation that first insists that we look at the Bible as the only source of truth, but yet adds copious amounts of explanation - that are not supported by science OR the Bible - for our observations of nature.


The only animal cursed after the fall was the serpent – God didn’t instantaneously recreate the physiology of all carnivores. Psalm 104, known as The Creation Psalm, praises God for providing prey for the lions. If animal death was evil before the fall, it is after, and God is doing evil to feed the lions. Why is the Psalmist praising God for something evil? ‘Lion’ is derived from ‘tearer’, what Adam named them. Before the fall. (Psalm 104 also speaks to creation Day 3, and against the imagined global flood, in verses 6 through 9.)


@Greg Don’t forget this resource as well, written by Jon Garvey on this topic. How often can you read a book on a topic with which you have a great deal of interest and interact with the author as well?



I hunt and fish for food. Nothing immoral about this. A friend of mine killed the record largest buck for one of the best white tail hunting counties in the US for bow this year! Yes, we eat meat since the fall. It would have been immoral before the fall bc plants alone were given for food. I dont write the rules. God did and does. So there is a reason why there is nothing mentioned about eating meat before the fall. Does this have some tie with “death” being part of the curse? Perhaps. Everyone tells me how this death is “spiritual death” and the tree of life keeps Adam and Eve alive physically. But sense has it that if there are carnivores roaming the earth that attacked and ate Adam, he would not quite be able to make it to the tree to regain life, would he? Adam does not eat animals and they dont eat him or other animals before the fall. I see no other way about it.

The way i look at the various interpretations of Genesis is to take out of my mind all theories related to the science of man on the age of the earth, evolution etc and stick w the sense of the text alone. The sense i get is of course no carnivory before the fall, no spiritual or physical death before the fall, and God’s creation process one very contrary from the average violent creation myth where instead existence given by God speaking in peace then resulting in very good. After the fall, of course the botttom falls out. God institutes eating of meat by humans and animals with the possibility that they can eatceach other! The earth has just been subjected to futility. Such futility is a form of patience by God where He allows life, common grace that supplants the immediate wrath Adam deserved, and the possibility for redemption via the gospel of grace found in repentance and trust in Gods forgiveness.

Backing up to ‘Day 1’…

There are multiple uses of the Biblical Hebrew word for an indeterminate period of time, ‘yom’, that period determined solely by context, and only traditionally translated “day” when associated with the six creation periods delineated in Genesis 1. The context in Genesis 1 is unique in all of scripture, the very creation of the universe, space and time itself, and it happened ONCE. A plea to a meaning in another later context is illegitimate.