29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
This is one example of how vastly different things were on the early earth. Notice what God said to Noah after the Flood.
Genesis 9:1 ¶ And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
There are various possibilities. Perhaps God did not create predators until after the Flood or perhaps all creatures, even meat-eaters today, were capable of surviving on vegetable matter, then. Even today everyone has known of a house-cat who liked green things so it is not that a predator cannot eat such things but that, as cats are obligate carnivores today and must have meat, so the original cat-creatures had to not have that need for health and survival. The point is that the entire ecosystem, lush and tropical as it may have been, did not require killing for survival.
With regard to the conditions under which we live a famous atheist scientist noted.
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored….In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. (14)
But, is death necessary at all in biology? Another evolutionary scientist acknowledged that it is not.
Humans on rare occasions may survive to 120 years, some turtles to 200. But all animals eventually die. Many single-cell organisms may die, as the result of accident or starvation; in fact the vast majority do. But there is nothing programmed into them that says they must die. Death did not appear simultaneously with life. This is one of the most important and profound statements in all of biology. At the very least it deserves repetition: Death is not inextricably intertwined with the definition of life. (15)
Nevertheless, here we have a clear statement that both man and beast’s diet consisted of non-animal matter in the early earth.
“Dentition suggests an omnivorous diet, in which nuts and fruits, grubs, and perhaps some kind of vegetable shoots were more important than animal flesh.” (16)
Note Paul’s statement;
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
The question we have to ask ourselves is this. Is this, in Romans, the world of men or the world as in the earth? There are two distinct usages of world in the Bible, based on context. One might be considered the people that dwell upon the earth and one the earth itself.
Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Job 37:12 And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth.
[A third possible meaning can be the world system of things; philosophy, entertainment, and politics and trends.
1John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.]
In any event, the early earth was a vastly different place, at least until the time of Adam and Eve’s downfall, than it was after that or is now. Of course, the question also hinges around what we, in this modern age, regard as life or living. The Biblical definition will be important for our consideration in a few chapters. As there is some philosophical question today over whether or not something that replicates itself is alive, such as a computer program, or, by strict definition, whether a virus, which does not have its own machinery for reproducing but takes over the host’s equipment for that, is a living thing, the question of what constitutes life is important for our understanding here.
(14) Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 154-155.
(15) William R. Clark, Sex and the Origins of Death (London: Oxford University Press, 1998), 54.
(16) William H. McNeil, Plagues and Peoples (New York: Anchor Books, 1976), 36.