This kind of explanation seems to me most likely to succeed - though
there are difficulties. Below I will attempt to answer my own
question based around this idea.
The other main alternative seems to be to attempt to justify the
notion that animal suffering is good and the way things should be. I
suppose you could try and argue that animals don't experience pain and
suffering in the same way we do (which I imagine is true for simple
animals). If you argue this way however, you should be perfectly happy
for people to torture their pets.
The world I see is like a masterful script, poorly enacted. Wherever
I look I see wonderful intricate creation, yet it is tainted by pain,
death, things not living up to their potential. In this world I get a
glimpse of how wonderful things could be, if only things were a bit
different. I see a master creator at work, yet the creation falls
short of what I imagine it could be. I think this is what the apostle
Paul is talking about when he says "the whole creation is groaning".
Part of the fallen nature of creation, it seems to me, is animal pain
and suffering. If fossil records etc show that this occured before
the fall, then retrospective application of the fall seems the only
solution. But this still leaves the question: "To what was God
referring when he described the process of creation and called it
Let me put up my best attempt at a reconciliation and see what people
think of it.
I will start with the premise that God never intended this universe,
this world, to the the final destiny for man. God knew that humanity
would fall ahead of time and created the world accordingly --- man's
actions retrospectively being responsible for the fallen nature of
When Adam and Eve came along, God sheltered them from the negative
aspects of creation in the Garden of Eden. They experienced none of
the ills of nature, only the wonders. God blinded them to the bad and
within the garden God protected them from all the potential harm which
could have befallen them. They knew only good --- they had not yet
eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The "pre-fall/post-fall" delineation should not be though of as
primarily a demarkation in time, but rather a demarkation in
knowledge. Genesis 1 is a pre-fall description of creation, so it is
a description which sees the beauty of creation while being blind to
God can assert that this side of creation is "very good", because it
is. In fact, it is a model of the new world God has prepared for
those who are his.
After the fall, Adam and Eve are suddenly aware of the evil side of
this world. It is interesting that the bible doesn't seem to describe
the nature of the world as suddenly changing, but rather Adam and
Eve's knowledge of it suddenly changing. The first thing Adam and Eve
notice is that they are naked. They were naked before the fall, they
just didn't realize it. As a result of the fall, they were kicked out
of the garden. It wasn't that the garden suddenly changed, but
rather, they were removed to outside the garden where they were no
longer shielded from the harsh realities of life. The world outside
the garden was always there before the fall, just that Adam and Eve
didn't know of it.
It seems that before the fall, Adam and Eve were sustained by the tree
of life. That is, without this intervention, the nature of the world
was to bring death. God had provided the tree of life, which shielded
them from the norm of creation which involved death.
I have often wondered why nakedness was the thing Adam and Eve
suddenly became aware of and ashamed of post-fall. I'm still
undecided on the question but the though occured to me that maybe it
is referring to breeding. Before the fall they were unaware of the
cycle of breeding and death, which entails so much suffering (as well
as much which is wonderous). It is post-fall that they become fully
aware of sexual attraction to each other's bodies, and the compulsion
to breed, and the pain of childbirth, and the pain of death that often
results after birth. Perhaps knowledge of nakedness is symbolic of
knowledge of the whole breeding cycle and the joys and pains that this
Thus in a way, knowledge of good and evil is in part, knowledge of the
breeding cycle --- the cornerstone of evolution.
Well, that's my best attempt at answering my own question. I would be
interested to hear comments and criticisms.
"They told me I was gullible ... and I believed them!"