Did God create animals that eat meat?

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QUESTION: Why did God, before he made Adam (Genesis 1:26), create animals that needed to eat meat? This seems to contradict the belief that death did not come upon the earth until after Adam and Eve's sin.

ANSWER: Today there exists two major classes of animals that eat meat. The first, called omnivores (e.g. bears), live off a mix of both flesh and plant based food sources. The second, called carnivores (e.g. lions, tigers, snakes, etc.), solely or primarily consume flesh as the main part of their diet. Did God originally create these predatory beasts (or those that scavenge like vultures) which require the death of other living things in order that they may live?

Scripture clearly states that God did not require animals (and even humans) to ingest meat as part of their diets. All living things were commanded to eat only plant-based foods for their daily sustenance.

"Behold, I have given you (Adam and Eve) every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree upon which is the fruit of a tree bearing seed - to you they shall be for food. 30. And to every animal of the earth and to every fowl of heaven and to all the living creatures that crawl upon the earth, every green plant is given for food" (Genesis 1:29 - 30, HBFV throughout)

God did not create animals to be predators - to hunt down, kill, tear up and devour their fellow creatures. He brought everything into existence in a state of perfection. This perfection is based on his way of life, which is founded on selfless love for others (1John 4:8). In the Garden of Eden he states that everything brought into existence was "exceedingly good" (Genesis 1:31).

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Mythical Animals in Scripture

Life on earth was created perfect by a Being whose character centers on flawless love (1John 4:8). In the Garden of Eden it was stated that everything brought into existence was "exceedingly good" (Genesis 1:31). This perfection manifested itself when, before sin entered the world, Adam was blessed with the task of naming all land-based creatures including birds (Genesis 2:19). There is no indication that any lion, bear, or other present day carnivores tried to attack or kill him during this process. All life was gentle and docile.

What, then, caused a monumental change in the nature of many animals such that they added eating meat to their diet? How did creatures, originally peaceful, become predatory? Two major factors led to this radical departure from what was originally intended.

Collage of Lion, Snake, Tiger and Bear
Lion, Serpent, Tiger, Bear attacking Bull
Bronze sculptures by Antoine-Louis Barye

Sin and Satan

When Adam and Eve sinned by taking from the tree of good and evil, they rejected trusting in God and replaced it with believing in Satan's (and their own) deceptions. This sin brought with it manifold consequences that affected not only the physical world but also the spiritual one. Their bodies, from the moment they disobeyed, began to decline, ultimately leading to their death (Genesis 2:17, 3:3). Their sin also condemned all humans to die as well (Romans 5:12, 1Corinthians 15:21 - 22). Additionally, it introduced curses into the animal kingdom (Genesis 3:14) and to the plant world (3:17 - 19, 5:29).

The second factor that also led to some animals (and even some plants) eating meat is Satan himself. The rebellion of our first parents allowed the devil, as a god or prince, to rule over the earth and pervert all things within it (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, Ephesians 2:2, 6:12, etc.). The influence of our adversary's competitive way of life, coupled with his complete willingness to KILL at any time (see John 8:44, Revelation 12:1 - 4), has permeated the instinct of many living things.

A Restoration of Peace

Biblical prophecies indicate that the present ferocious, predatory nature of animals will be restored to their original peaceful state during the millennial reign of Christ. The prophet Isaiah specifically mentions that the wolf, leopard, lion and bear will soon return to being herbivores (consuming solely plant-based food). Even humans and vipers (the KJV calls them cockatrices) will coexist in harmony!

6. Also the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the cub lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the viper's den (Isaiah 11:6 - 8)

Additional Answers

Many people believe that great structural and bodily changes must occur in order to convert carnivorous animals into herbivores. This is not true. For example, the giant panda bear has almost the identical dental structure and digestive tract (A Field Guide to the Mammals, The Peterson Field Guide Series, third edition, by W. H. Burt) as the grizzly and black bear. Pandas consume bamboo (herbivore) while bears are primarily predatory carnivores. There are many examples of carnivores (Mammalogy, 3rd edition, pages 155 - 59 by T. A. Vaughan) such as coyotes that can feed for large periods on certain fruits. Raccoons can easily switch between being a predator and being an herbivore. During the last two world wars, when meat was rationed, many zoos maintained large populations of carnivorous animals (for many years) on grains and vegetation.

Several plants (Venus Fly Traps, Bladderworts, Pitcher plants, etc.) attract and kill prey such as insects in order to receive needed nutrients. Scripture does not discuss, directly, vegetation that can eat meat. It can be deduced, however, based on Isaiah 11:9, that such plants will likely soon change to extract all their nourishment from the soil.

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Did God create meat eating animals?