Would the pre-Fall world have been overrun by animals?
A common complaint launched by skeptics against a historical Genesis and a lack of animal death before the Fall is that, if there was no animal death before the Fall, the world quickly would’ve become overrun by animals if Adam and Eve had never sinned. But is this true? Would the pre-Fall world have been an ecological disaster just waiting to happen? Or is there good reason to think God could have controlled this as needed? Daniel S. from Australia writes:
I’m at Bible college, and I have a lecturer who believes that animals died before the fall. He says the lack of human death before the fall was due to them eating from the Tree of Life, and was not something that would automatically happen.
He pointed out a problem with the lack of animal death before the fall, which I had not considered, and which I haven’t found addressed on the site after a brief search:Rabbits breed so fast that if they didn’t die, the volume of rabbits would increase exponentially, and they would overpopulate the planet so much that there would eventually be nothing else.
My lecturer acknowledged that God can do anything and he could deal with it “somehow”. After all, humans would eventually face the same problem, even with animal death. In the case of humans he said that we could come up with technological means to make more room, but animals don’t have this ability.
How could God deal with the sheer volume of animals with something other than death?
CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:
Thank you for your email.
Notice God’s blessing on the creatures in Genesis 1:
And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (v. 22)
Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (v. 28)
God blesses the living creatures with the purpose of them “filling” their respective domains. Thus, if Adam and Eve never sinned and the creatures filled their domains, clearly they would have had no need to further multiply, but it also means they would have fulfilled that purpose God gave them to fulfil. If they fulfil that purpose God gave them, why think God would let them multiply beyond the fulfilment of that purpose? The onus is not on us to stop ‘filling’; God would’ve stopped it if that aspect of His purpose for us had been fulfilled.
Just as we imagine how various aspects of the deathless world of The New Earth will work (see also Will the New Heavens and Earth be physical?), why think we can see problems from our post-Fall perspective in how God’s purposes would’ve been fulfilled in a pre-Fall world? The aspect that your lecturer is missing is that God’s providential care in the pre-Fall world was more abundant then than anything we experience now. And if God can maintain the clothes and sandals of the Israelites through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:5), surely ecological control in a pre-Fall world is not a problem for God, especially when doing so would match the purposes God gave to His creatures.
For more information, please see How did bad things come about? and Was there really no death before the Fall?, as well as Was the Garden of Eden a ‘sanctuary’ from a hostile outside world?, Bodily functions and blue eyes in the pre-Fall world? and Did Adam and Eve have to eat before the Fall?, which address some related issues.
Creation Ministries International