Does the gospel require "no death before sin"?
Here is part of a section about "death before sin" in an FAQ asking What does Bible-information say about age of the earth?
The main theological principles
for "sin and death" are above. But young-earth critics also
challenge old-earth theology with related questions:
Is a long process of creation a waste of time? Why use billions of years, instead of 144 hours?
Were the "laws of nature" different in Eden, since the good aspects of natural process (allowing life and pleasure) were not being balanced by its bad aspects (allowing death and suffering)?
Would a natural creation that includes death be compatible with the character of God? In Genesis 1:31, does "very good" mean "no death"?
A brief FAQ-appendix [the page you're now reading] looks at these questions, but here are quick responses: God has plenty of time. God (not the "laws of nature") decides how much "protection" to provide in Eden, in the present, and in heaven. Theologically, "very good" means "very good for achieving God's goals for the creation, especially for humans."
Here are the rest of the responses:
Efficiency and Humility
Is a long process of creation a waste of time? Why use billions of years, instead of 144 hours? Or is this a needless worry?
God has plenty of resources, including time, and evidence from nature strongly indicates that God — like a gardener lovingly caring for a garden, or a master potter carefully molding clay — really did take a long time to shape the creation, to gradually form its inhabitants along with the earth's geology and ecology. Instead of challenging God's wisdom by asking "Why did you waste billions of years?", it seems wise for us to adopt a humble attitude, "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:3, in the context of 36:22 to 42:6)"
Divine Protection for Humans:
first total, then partial, and finally TOTAL
It might appear that the "laws of nature" were different in Eden, since the good aspects of natural process (allowing life and pleasure) were not being balanced by its bad aspects (allowing death and suffering). But this change would not be necessary, because the world is not governed by the "natural laws" that were designed by God and are being sustained by God. Instead, God is constantly governing nature by sovereignly deciding the protective powers that He does and doesn't use in each stage of history, and in each situation during a stage.
To claim support for a theory that the laws of nature changed at The Fall, a passage often cited is Romans 8:18-25, "...the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. ..." But in this passage the present state, with partial protective power, is compared to a future state with full protective power, when "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)" God governs, and in heaven He will use total protective power for everyone, all of the time. But this TOTAL protection will be permanent, compared with the temporary total protection in Eden, which (because of the freedom given to us by God) was vulnerable to loss by human sin.
Created Very Good for a Purpose
Would a natural creation that includes death be compatible with the character of God? Young-earth critics of old-earth theology appeal to emotions, claiming that a loving God would not allow the death of animals. They cite Genesis 1:31 ("And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.") and claim that "very good" means "no death." But theologically, "very good" means "very good for achieving God's goals for the creation, especially for humans." And our perspective on what is "very good" isn't the same as God's perspective. When Paul says that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" in Romans 8:28, "good" does not mean "no challenges, pain, sorrow, or death" because these do occur for those who love God. Instead, "good" means "good for achieving God's goals for us, in this life and the next life."
FAQ about Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design — Homepage