Is this a flaw in Old Earth Creationism?

If God created the earth prior to Adam and Eve and the fall, and animals and life existed for millions of years prior to Adam and Eve and the fall, that means that carnivorous activity, disease, natural disaster, and death all occurred prior to the fall. However, God said all of creation, prior to the fall, was “very good”. Doesn’t that make all these things “very good”, which we know they aren’t?

I’m an Old Earth Creationist, but this seems devastating to my belief.

There are others here that can expand on this further but I do have a thought. “Very good” doesn’t mean perfect. On the sixth day God said all of creation was “very good”. This would include Adam and Eve. Now if Adam was perfect how did he sin? He had to have been created with the ability to sin and yet he was called perfect.


So based on this linguistic analysis, you are going to conclude that a short-gut carnivore like a lion or tiger ate grass during it’s time in Eden?

We fall into the trap of seeing everything from our perspective. In many respects, the return of wolves to Yellowstone has been very good. Perhaps not so much for a few individual elk, but for the elk herd in general and the ecosystem, things are better.

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Really? Did I not just clarify in my post that I am an Old Earth Creationist? Please quit looking for ways to debate and answer my initial question.

After some research, I know longer view animal death as immoral, and therefore in the big picture and in view of the ecosystem, it is in fact a “good” thing. But, what about disease and natural disasters? I didn’t think my grandfather suffering and dying from Cancer was a “very good” thing, so I can’t imagine God feeling that it is.

Indeed not. I think that those sort of questions trouble us all, and a pretty good chunk of the Bible speaks to me in helping sort it out, primarily Job and Ecclesiastes, though in neither book is a clear answer given. We are residents in this creation, constrained by the bonds of the physical universe perhaps in the only way it could exist, looking forward to a new creation, the nature of which is perhaps beyond our understanding.


I don’t know about disease, but I think the damage caused by natural disasters can be exacerbated by humans. In Italy, the Mafia used corrupt construction companies to build homes with lower-quality materials, resulting in more earthquake damages. There is a lot of homes in other countries built in places that are not exactly the best locations like cliffs. Back when coastal settlements were less urbanized in the southern United States, there used to be a lot of wetlands that protect the coast from hurricanes, but humans unwisely removed them.

In areas without humans, I guess you can say volcanic eruptions and wildfires are good things. I mean eruptions can make new islands in the ocean or create fertile soil on land. I think wildfires help to clear out overcrowding in forests and allow room for trees to grow healthily.

I don’t know. That’s possible, I guess. I’d rather believe that natural “disasters” are actually just natural occurrences to balance the ecosystem and earth. They’re natural and necessary to keep the earth healthy. Of course, I’m no expert on storms and hurricanes and other natural occurrences, but that’s just what I think.

  1. The Hebrew term translated “very good” just means “fit for purpose” or “attractive”.
  2. This same Hebrew term is used to describe both people and nature after the fall. The earth is still “very good”.



Theodicy is the problem of all monotheisms.

With or without Evolution there are plenty of unpleasant developments in the Cosmos.

Let us contemplate the completely unnecessary destruction of so much animal life during the flood - global or regional. In Exodus, the Destroyer is much less destructive… specifically going after the first born - Not every blessed thing that breathes oxygen!

I can sympathize with the conflict you’re dealing with. I think, however, you’ve already answered it.

Why, if God pronounced them very good, do we say they aren’t? We should look at it again and conclude: God said it was good, so let’s change our mindset to line up with God.

As an old professor of mine once said, “It’s not the things in the Bible I don’t understand that bother me, it’s the things I do understand that bother me.”

One thing that helps to understand it God’s way- that everything before the fall was good- is to consider this: Adam was the first soul-filled man, and he was made with access to the tree of life. That means that before Adam, all the beings, including neanderthals and early homo sapiens, were soulless animals. There would be no understanding of suffering for them. Their pain and death would have no meaning to them.

Once God created a man with a soul, Adam, he created the first being that had the ability to experience suffering. When he did this, he gave him access to the tree of life. Presumably, any disease or death that happened to Adam could have been healed by his access to that tree. In Revelation, the tree of life is available again, and we learn that it is “for the healing of the nations.”

Adam’s job was to eradicate the earth of its wildness, which made it inhospitable to conscious, soulful beings. He was to “subdue” it. And when he suffered as a result of his contact with the earth before he could eradicate its harmfulness, he would have access to healing from the tree of life.

So before the fall, everything was very good. The animals who were subject to pain and death had no consciousness of this, therefore it was not bad for them to experience it. Adam, the first one who COULD suffer, was given access to immediate restoration of his health through the tree of life.

The problem, and thus the fall of man, is that we lost access to the doctor.

So, does God say animal death is good? Well, in Paul’s letter to Timothy he explicitly says that: For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

Look at what he’s actually saying here… he’s speaking of MEAT. Not cows, but BEEF. He’s saying that a dead animal presented to us as food IS GOOD.

Jesus even killed and ate fish himself. He did not sin, he went about doing good.

You could even argue that God is able to take what we see as evil and make it good. In John 11 Lazarus dies, and Jesus is glad:

“14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe;”

Then, there’s the verse that explicitly uses the word “good” in a way that we believe yet have a hard time actually accepting:

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

So, I would be careful looking at a wild world before the fall, and deciding that it could not have been good. We look at it and say “it doesn’t look good to me” but God says “it looks good to me.” Acts 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

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One does not have to comprehend suffering to feel it. Also, where in Scripture does it declare Adam the first soul-filled man? Gen. 2:7 maybe? “The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” The words translated “living being” here also are used in 1:24 to describe animal life: God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds…"

Both man and animals share physical life bestowed by God. Both suffer and die. The fact that we comprehend the meaning of these things does not change our common fate. As Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 instruct us:

18 I also thought to myself, “It is for the sake of people,
so God can clearly show them that they are like animals.
19 For the fate of humans and the fate of animals are the same:
As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath.
There is no advantage for humans over animals,
for both are fleeting.
20 Both go to the same place,
both come from the dust,
and to dust both return.
21 Who really knows if the human spirit ascends upward,
and the animal’s spirit descends into the earth?
22 So I perceived there is nothing better than for people to enjoy their work,
because that is their reward;
for who can show them what the future holds?

A better translation of Genesis is that man became a living soul, not a living being. Man is different from animals in that he has an eternal soul and animals do not. This is the work of translation, to take words that can be translated two ways, and determine the best of the two words. Just because the same word is used in the original it does not always denote the same meaning.

Trump “fought” Clinton in the election. We need more than just word association to determine the meaning of the word “fought.”

Also, Ecclesiastes is written from the viewpoint of man contemplating the world “under the sun.” The phrase “under the sun” is used more than any phrase in the book and it sets the context of the viewpoint of the writer. From an earthly perspective, there is no difference between the fate of men and animals. From a spiritual perspective, however, there is a great difference.

Do you really feel that there is eternally no difference between the eternal fate of humans and animals? Do you feel that animals and man are made the same? I would consider the long reaching theological implications of such a translation.

The question is not about whether animals have nerve endings. It’s whether it is “good” or “evil” when animals die.

Jesus killed and cooked fish to eat for himself, a sinless being. Did he do something that was not good? Why was he not a vegetarian if the death of animals cannot be classified as “good”?

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One way to think of this, as was stated earlier, is that God, so therefore also Jesus, pronounced everything “good” because it was part of a real, functional system. Everything, including the fish have a place in the said system. When a fish dies, it stills has function as food for humanity or other creatures.
In reference to the original question, it is possible that God did not consider death and fighting “sin” persé because, once again, it had a purpose as part of a system. The wolf mother could fight and kill a snake to defend her cubs without “sinning” (if animals sin, that is, which is another strange topic) because it had a good purpose. That is not to say that killing for a good purpose is justified before God now, because Adam and Eve brought sin into creation.
Death in itself is not sin; death is part of a cycle. Murder, however, is sin (since the first mentioned time of death without having a place in the system as its purpose was after the Fall, when Cain killed his brother) because it has an evil purpose; bringing death on someone else for a selfish purpose or no purpose at all.

Anyone who thinks God would literally test humans about morality before Teaching Them Morality will believe most anything.

If Adam and Eve “knew not” about Good and Evil, then if the story of the Tree were ever to be taken seriously, God would have required Adam & Eve to eat of the tree - - then he would have tested their ability to handle moral questions.

If the story were ever to be taken seriously? Come now, George. Judging by 3000 years worth of evidence, I’d say the story was, is, and will be taken seriously long after you’ve stopped giving God advice about how he should have done things in order to be more successful in his efforts to save us from ourselves. One way to take it seriously is not to regard it as a test, which it isn’t …

Only the oldest English translations have “living soul” rather than “living being/creature.” Check out the various renderings for Gen. 2:7 at Biblehub. It’s interesting that even the New King James Version went with “living being.” A representative slice:

New International Version
Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

New Living Translation
Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

NET Bible
The LORD God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

New American Standard 1977
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

King James Bible 1611
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

New King James Version 1982
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

In any case, I’m not trying to start a debate over whether man has an eternal spirit/soul. It would go on for weeks without resolution. But in my judgment, when Christ breathed on his disciples and said “Receive the Holy Spirit” in John 20:22, he was deliberately re-enacting Gen. 2:7 and demonstrating the meaning of John 3:6 – What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Or, as Paul put it in 1 Cor. 15–

45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Oops. Forgot to address the main question. I’d say it is neither good nor evil when animals die. That is not a question of moral values. Likewise, when God looks at creation and pronounces it “very good,” he is not assessing its moral character. The heavens and the earth, as well as all living beings and even man at his initial creation, are morally neutral. When we say the lion is “very good,” we are not assessing its character, and neither was God.

Honestly, I am always baffled when the question even comes up. Consider the beauty that surrounds us, and every nook and cranny of it is teeming with life. How can anyone dispute God’s assessment of it as “very good”? It IS very good. The only problem that I see with it is US, and it is a problem of our own invention, called “sin.”



Many a time I’ve been asked how to place the “line” in the Bible … the line that separates historically plausible from historically implausible.

We can dispute these:

  1. the ocean above and below the firmament;
  2. on an Earth where speciation is considered unlikely, but hyper-speciation after landing the Ark is unavoidable;
  3. Jonah spending three days inside a fish;
  4. Samson having magical hair;
  5. a talking donkey;
  6. and 12 sons somehow creating 12 separate tribes . . .

, , , but God testing one’s moral judgement when they haven’t been taught morality is tantamount to God making a square circle. It makes zero sense, literally - - but can have a figurative purpose in a poetic context.