Does Genesis 1:30 debunk the evolutionary theory?

Hi,

This is my first post on biologos. Biologos has been helpful for me as a Christian and a student of science.

I hope that Biologos or any of the helpful people here can help with my question:

In Genesis 1:30, it says that all the animals and Man started out as vegans. I assume meat-eating came after the fall for the animals, and after Noah’s flood for mankind.

How does this square with the fossil record:

which clearly shows that dinosaurs ate meat? How can one merge the scientific evidence and biblical truth here?

David

David,

I believe that the last part of your assumption is incorrect. Meat-eating existed before Noah’s flood. Here’s why I say so:

  • Among the Noahide laws is this one: Prohibition against eating living flesh.

    • Genesis 9 https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8173
      • [1] And God blessed Noah and his sons, and He said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
        [2] And your fear and your dread shall be upon all the beasts of the earth and upon all the fowl of the heaven; upon everything that creeps upon the ground and upon all the fish of the sea, [for] they have been given into your hand[s].
        [3] Every moving thing that lives shall be yours to eat; like the green vegetation, I have given you everything.
        [4] But, flesh with its soul, its blood, you shall not eat.
  • It would be a mistake to believe that pre-Flood mankind was vegan and that God was authorizing meat eating and that mankind became meat eating after the flood. The prohibition against eating living flesh assumes that mankind not only ate meat before the flood, but also ate living animals, in part or whole, and that God commanded an end to eating living animals in part or whole.

It’s correct to see that the genesis account teaches that prior to the flood mankind did not eat meat. You see no mention of them being able to eat meat until after the flood. Even in genesis 1-2 it mentions what he gave them as food.

However genesis 1-11 is a combination of fiction and nonfiction. Snakes don’t talk, blood does not cry out from the ground, and before the sun existed there was not a blob of water floating unfrozen in space and there world does not have a dome around it.

What we see is that the post Egyptian Hebrews writing the story of Moses was showing how sin caused the world to grow more and more divided. It’s not literal history. It’s a mythological tale given from God to humanity to teach them about life. It’s not literal accurate dead to detail accounts of thousands of years.

So here is the confusion.

You can’t male genesis 1-11 line up with science because it’s fantasy. Almost none of it lines up with science or history. It’s not supposed too. Same as the term “ big sea animals” in genesis 1 is actually big sea monsters and it’s referring to a sea snake dragon. That eventually carries over to Levithan which psalms says was a multi headed sea dragon that god battled and Job said it breathed fire.

It’s a creature that has never existed.

So in the same way, we don’t try to make the tale of genesis fit real history or real science. It’s meant to fit into a set of patterns being expressed in theology all pointing towards a fragmentation of humanity and nature and everything being restored. That’s why in revelation it picks up those same patterns for a restored world without death and lions lay with lambs. But again, it’s all symbolic and not literal. Those images in genesis 1-11 and revelation represent not literal events, but are symbolic and what they symbolize is something beyond what I’ve been able to study out in depth.

Hi David, welcome here! I’d like to dig into this interpretation:

If we only had Genesis 1, that would be a natural reading. Similarly, with only Genesis 2 it would seem that humans started out as fruititarians: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (2:16). But this verse probably isn’t ruling out vegetables and grains any more than 1:30 rules out meat and fungi and yeasts.

Genesis 2 focuses on eating fruit to explain the one prohibited fruit. Genesis 1 focuses on eating plants to explain their purpose. A couple days earlier, God had said the sun and moon were for timekeeping (1:14). That doesn’t mean that using anything else for timekeeping – such as a watch or phone or radioactive decay – is sinful. Day 4 doesn’t prohibit other ways of measuring time, but shows a purpose of the celestial bodies. And day 6 shows a purpose of plants: the meaning of 1:30 is “plants provide food” rather than “only eat green plants.”

One confirmation for reading it this way comes from looking at fish. They aren’t given anything to eat. They’re included in the creatures humanity is given dominion over (1:28) but excluded from the creatures given food (1:30). Does that mean fish originally didn’t eat? Were they nonvores? Probably not. But since the only plants Genesis 1 talks about are plants from the earth (1:11–12), there was no need to assign a function to sea plants. I expect fish did eat more than nothing, and land animals ate more than plants.

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It would seem that early meat-eating among humans “debunks” the post-Flood meat-eating theory.

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Interesting. I thought that verse was just a part of the blood prohibition that came to incorporated in Jewish dietary laws, not eating something that is alive.

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Time to consult a Jew, or a Noahide???

Noahide Laws

After the Flood a seventh commandment, given to Noah, forbade the eating of flesh cut from a living animal (Gen. 9:4).

P.S. Seems to me that God’s prohibition was tantamount to saying: It’s time for you guys (Noah and his descendants) to quit behaving like animals that eat living flesh.

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That’s interesting. I also had just thought that meant not to eat meat with blood in it (because of the belief/symbolism of life being in the blood). That does seem to be how this idea carries into Leviticus and Deuteronomy:

“I will set my face against that person who eats blood … For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:10–11). “Only be sure that you do not eat the blood; for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the meat” (Deuteronomy 12:23).

So it seems to have developed from “don’t eat flesh that still has its life (which is its blood)” to “don’t eat flesh that still has its blood (which is its life).”

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That works for me.

If the Bible is seen as providing a message for humans, why would we expect it to have anything to say about the fossil record? Does anyone really think the Bible’s message was intended to provide comprehensive empirical knowledge of the natural world? I doubt that.

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On the other hand, there might be an oddball or two who believes that God issued the prohibition against eating living flesh to Noah and his descendants, who had been vegans up until they got off the Ark, after the Flood.

Guffaw!!!

Some do; some don’t. I take it that you don’t. Cool! neither do I.

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Does Genesis 1:30 debunk the evolutionary theory?

Since the Bible has no place in the methodology of science, I don’t see how that is even possible.

No it does not. It ONLY says that God has given every plant, seed, and fruit for food. It does not say that all the animals restricted themselves to such a diet and that they did not go out and hunt down animals for food. All the evidence God sends us from the earth and living animals tells us that they most certainly did eat meat long before there was any humans on the planet.

Your assumption does not agree with the demonstrable evidence.

It is the eating of meat which played a huge role in making us very different from primates. Instead of tree dwelling mammals living off fruit, nuts, insect, rodents, and scavenged roots and bones, we became the best long distance running hunters in the world, by which we could take down larger animals. This shows in nearly every aspect of our physiology. This is not just evolution but the whole science of biology.

It is certainly possible that Adam and Eve were vegetarians or vegan because groups of humans have been so at various times and places in human history – especially when they lived in a particularly paradise like location on the earth where sufficient such food was available.

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Hi Marshall thanks for the reply. I think your interpretation does makes a lot of sense but if the verse meant to explain that the purpose of plants is food…why do would have you explain that plants are food to herbivores? They are already programmed to eat plants.

Why is there no explanation for the purpose of animals? I mean, why was an explanation needed for carnivores?

Hi Mitchell, yes I do recognize all these…the problem I have is that the verse doesn’t seem to say that only Adam and Eve were vegans. It says birds, livestock etc are given plants to eat…it totally doesn’t square with the fossil record or evolution

The Bible seems to say that the Earth is flat. Time to stop talking about what the Bible seems to say and start talking about what it actually does say. It does not say that anybody is vegetarian. If I say that I give you five dollars it does follow that you only have five dollars. And if you are waving around hundreds of dollars then it would be insane to insist that you only have five dollars just because that is what I gave you.

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New International Version
And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

This is what the verse says.
This is what I’m trying to figure out: “Time to stop talking about what the Bible seems to say and start talking about what it actually does say”

I’m not saying people were originally herbivores. Also, the account doesn’t shy away from mentioning other things we’re “programmed” to do – like reproduce. :slight_smile:

Animals fix the second half of the initial problem (“formless and empty”) by filling their realms. I think that’s why they’re organized by realm: creatures of the seas, of the sky, and of the land. They multiply to fill those realms, which allows the realms and their trappings (including vegetation) to fulfill their own purpose. Genesis 1 paints a picture of a well-ordered, good cosmos that serves human needs.

Other biblical accounts of creation have different purposes. That leads them to include things that Genesis 1 skips over, such as predation, death, struggle and chaos. God’s speech about creation in Job 38–39 is nearly opposite in its purpose from Genesis 1. God makes chaotic and extreme weather and sends needed rains where no human can use them. Almost every creature God boasts about is one we might not expect to be from their hand if we only read Genesis 1: those that are carnivorous, vicious, foolish or of no apparent use to people. Job discovers that God’s creation is chaotic, majestic, dangerous and not all about us and our comfort.

In between the pictures of Job and Genesis is Psalm 104. It still includes death and predation as integral parts of God’s creation, but also sees the whole picture as harmonious and good (see especially verses 14–30). So if we’re wondering about a specific feature of creation, it’s not enough to look at one account that may intentionally choose to not focus on that aspect. And when it comes to questions about creation, of course creation itself can disclose answers.

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Soooooo… what it actually says is that God gave them plants for food. It does not say that they only ate plants. And all the evidence says they ate meat… sooo… it is not reasonable to insist on something the Bible does not even say. It does not even say that God forbade either animals or man from eating meat. So you cannot even claim there was anything wrong with them doing what all of their biology was conditioned to do.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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