Young-earth creationists have long argued against the occurrence of death before the fall of man. This mistaken doctrine stems from two verses in the Bible. The first is Genesis 1:29-30, which states, “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. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, where-in there is life, I have given every green herb for meat; and it was so.”
Yes, the Bible says that God gave the green plants to all animals to eat. However, nowhere does the Bible say that animals “cannot” eat meat…it only says they were given grass to eat. In other words, they were not prohibited by God from eating meat.
Also, nowhere does the Bible claim that there was no physical death before sin…it is inferred from the Genesis text and this verse, Romans 5:12, which states, “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.” Why many theologians have interpreted this to mean “all” death, including physical death, is unclear, as there is no theological reason for it to infer physical death, when you consider the context of the passages in Genesis.
In Genesis, it is obvious that the passage means spiritual death, not physical. Here’s a simple logical answer…when Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he entered into spiritual death…he did not physically die when he bit the fruit. We know this because he had children with Eve after he ate the fruit. Adam did not introduce physical death, but spiritual death. In fact, if you read Satan’s dialogue with Eve, then you will see the answer plain as day. He told Eve she would not die, but all the while Satan knew that he would be introducing spiritual death to the world. How else was Satan to prevent people from following God…killing them physically did not end their spiritual relationship with God. By introducing spiritual death, Satan knew he could prevent people from worshiping God.