Didn't death in this world and decay in the universe begin when Eve and Adam sinned?

Email Received:

I believe in six literal 24-hour days of creation. I've always heard that everything on the earth and in the universe got "messed up" when Eve and Adam sinned by disobeying God. There was no death or decay anywhere before this point, and these things began with the original sin of mankind. I mean, verses such as Rom. 5:12, Rom. 8:22, and 1 Cor. 15:21,22 verify this, right?

Ted's Response:

At the onset, let me say that although I do emphatically maintain that God created everything, I adamantly do not believe that this Creation came into existence in a period of six 24-hour days (the "young-earth" view of Creation). For more details, see yŰm = "day", long "days", evening and morning, the seventh "day", and ordinals.

A claim made by "young-earth" creationists is that no death and decay, of any kind, existed prior to Eve and Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6). They insist, therefore, that human disobedience and rebelliousness toward God ruined all of God's "perfect" Creation.

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.... (Romans 5:12)
This verse speaks of Adam's original sin and how, through that sin, sin entered the world of mankind. As a result, all men have sinned. Because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a), and because all men have sinned, then death is the penalty mankind must pay, due to sin. In no way does this imply that death came to the animal or plant kingdoms because of sin.

The wages of each person's sin is the death of that person. Animals and plants cannot sin; they are incapable of disobedience and rebellion against God, and God does not hold them personally responsible for their actions. Animals and plants lived and died on the earth to help prepare the earth for the bringing of mankind (beginning with Adam and Eve) into the world on the sixth "day" of creation.

Of all of God's creatures, Adam and Eve were the only ones who had the opportunity to escape death. They alone were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26a,27a) and were given the capacity to live forever, had they chosen not to sin.

Romans 8:22

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:22)
This verse, if anything, lends credence to the idea that pain and death have been a part of the animal and plant kingdoms since their beginnings, prior to the creation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent sin. There certainly is no indication that Adam and Eve's original sin was responsible for the suffering and death of animals and plants.

Consider the reading of that verse in the context of the verses before it:

19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:19-22)
The purpose of this Creation, from the very beginning, has been to separate out and reveal God's chosen children who, with Christ, ultimately will reign over it (Revelation 5:10, 20:4d,6b). From the beginning, this Creation has been subjected to frustration and decayónot by its own choice (including not by the choice of Adam and Eve, created beings, to sin), but by the will of God who created it. The entire universe began to decay as soon as it was created, in accordance with the process of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics, instilled into it from the start.

Had this universe been created in a "perfect" state, we would have to assume that there was no waste, of any type, prior to Adam and Eve's disobedience and sin. Yet, are we to assume that the trillions of stars in the universe originally were infinitely stable but, in an instant of time (upon Adam and Eve's sin), were converted into a less efficient state of nuclear fusion?

On a smaller and more familiar scale, is it likely that every bird, fish, and mammal on earth (including Adam and Eve) instantly developed digestive and elimination systems (including the internal and external anatomical changes involved), enabling them to process food and excrete waste products on a daily basis? When Adam and Eve ate something, before they sinned, did the food just disappear as soon as they swallowed it? No. It was digested; part of it nourished their bodies, and part of it decayed and was eliminated, just as the same process happens to food when we eat it today. This is because Adam and Eve lived in an imperfect, decaying universe, just as we do today. I find such proposals to the contrary much too incredible to accept.

1 Corinthians 15:21,22

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22)
These two verses have nothing to do with the death of animals and plants, as there is no clear indication in the Bible as to whether or not there will be a future resurrection from the dead for animals and plants. Christ rose from the dead so that mankind could be redeemed from the death that comes from sin. As in Adam, all people die, so in Christ all people will be made alive, whether resurrected unto eternal life or eternal death (the second death).

To understand the full message of these verses, in context, it is important to read them along with the two verses (20 and 23) immediately before and after them:

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
Christ is not the firstfruits from the dead of animals and plants, but of humans. Only those who have died in Him will be raised in Him.

All birth involves anguish and labor (see pain and work), and there always is a high price to pay for glory, freedom, and ultimate happiness. From its inception, the primary function of this Creation, with its countless trials and tribulations, and immeasurable pain and suffering, has been to give birth to those who fully will understand and accept God's righteous ways, the first group of whom will be those glorified at the Rapture. The latter "elect" will be changed into perfected, incorruptible, imperishable forms to rule and reign with Jesus during the Millenniumóand, even more importantly, to exist with God throughout eternity in the realm of the new Creation (see old and new Creations).

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