Death in Paradise
Is there death in the Garden of Eden? We always assume to death entered the world because of the Original Sin (The Original Sin happened when Eve and Adam disobeyed God thus breaking their communion Gen.3). If death only enter the world through the Original Sin, how will the ecosystem of the Garden of Eden be sustained before Eve and Adam sinned? If there is no death, then are the animals in the Garden of Eden vegetarians?
Death is an important part of our present day ecosystem. Dead plants and animals are broken down into the essential minerals and organic components which form the substrate on which new plants and animals develop. It will be impossible for an ecosystem to sustain itself without death and decay.
Death that is part of the curse is directed to Adam and Eve rather than the animals (Gen. 3:19; 1 Cor. 15). It is likely to be spiritual death rather than physical death. Spiritual death is separation from God and this death in the curse is mentioned as the direct result of the Original Sin. It is unlikely that Adam and Eve are immortal because if they are, then there is no reason for the Tree of Life to be a temptation. The Tree of Life is already in the Garden well before the Fall (Gen.2:9). Therefore it is likely that Adam and Eve have limited but long lifespan (Isa. 65:20-24). Even after the curse, Adam lived for 930 years (Gen.5:5).
Are there carnivorous animals in the Garden of Eden? The fangs and muscles of lions and wolves suggest that there were. Before the Fall, Adam’s job was to look after the Garden (Gen.1:28). We assume that his job was gardening but what if it is to control the animals too; something like that of a park ranger? If there were no death, overpopulation will be a major problem for human, animals and plants. There is also a hint that the Garden is a walled area with angels guarding the gateways.
In the new creation, the wolf lying down beside the lamb (and not eating it) and the lions have become reformed vegetarians may suggest that the new creation is truly better than the Garden of Eden (Isa. 65:25).
Interesting, both Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin thinks that animals die in the Garden of Eden.
Labels: Creation/Evolution, Old Testament