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Animal death before the fall?


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Poll: Was animal (not human) death possible before the fall? (54 member(s) have cast votes)

Was animal (not human) death possible before the fall?

  1. No. (23 votes [42.59%])

    Percentage of vote: 42.59%

  2. Yes, but no animals actually died before the fall. (3 votes [5.56%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.56%

  3. Yes, and some animals possibly did die before the fall. (7 votes [12.96%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.96%

  4. Yes, and some animals definitely did die before the fall. (21 votes [38.89%])

    Percentage of vote: 38.89%

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#21 David Naess

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 06:09 PM

Big difference between:

"I don't know"
"It's really quite simple"
and
"For God it's really quite simple."

(That's just my pesky, technical writer's obsession with semantics poking it's head up again. Precise wording is how I put the bread on my table for quite some time.)

re: "Then what is the point in bringing something up if there is obviously no rational and verifiable answer?"

Just because one don't know the answer to a question does not make a question pointless. Attempting to fathom unanswerable questions often leads to insight!

Edited by David Naess, 29 March 2008 - 06:26 PM.


#22 Misha

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 10:08 PM

There was not death in Eden
"For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living." Wisdom of Solomon a,13

#23 RichardWorthington

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:31 PM

There was not death in Eden
"For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living." Wisdom of Solomon a,13


When I first voted here, I voted for animals dying before the fall. Now however (see the Creation and evolutionary theory II thread), I am starting to change my mind.

Consider the trees in Paradise:

The mature trees and fruits are converted into fragrant earth which does not give off any odor of corruption


However, St Basil the Great writes of the animals in their "kinds":

The nature of existing objects, set in motion by one command, passes through creation without change, by generation and destruction, preserving the succession of the kinds through resemblance, until it reaches the very end

Hexaemeron 9:2
quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose's book "Genesis, Creation, and Early Man" p. 135


So if the generation of the creatures was not to stop then for the earth not to be overrun by animals some form of recycling would be necessary. This would not be death, just like the trees did not give off any sign of corruption, but some conversion "into fragrant earth". Is this what St Basil's word "destruction" might imply, or does this only apply to the post-Fallen world?

What are your thoughts?

Richard

#24 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 12:46 PM

The Patristic position is quite clear that there was no death before the Fall.

From apostolic times we encounter the teaching that consequent to sin is death. Further, as St Paul explains, man's sin has cosmic consequences in that due to his sin the whole creation now suffers from death.

In other words death as found within creation is the result of man's sin.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#25 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 03:45 PM

I prefer to assume that our theology is experientially based, not historically based. But the conclusion is the same.

#26 RichardWorthington

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 08:59 AM

The Patristic position is quite clear that there was no death before the Fall.


Dear Father,

Can we assume that this applies to the trees also?

In which case the "mature trees" would not be "converted into fragrant earth", but stand forever?

Which Patristic evidence is correct if we hold them to be in opposition to each other?

And if they are not in opposition but in harmony - the difference merely being one of perspective, no death but a life-giving recycling - then can this not also apply to animals?

Richard

#27 Deanna Leonti

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 04:13 AM

I think yes,
some animals definitly did die before the fall.

just an opinion thou


Deanna

#28 David Naess

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 04:28 AM

If no animals died, than how would Adam and Eve be able to have
any conception of what was meant by:

"In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die?"

The consequence of death is just a meaningless word unless you have
seen it someplace.

#29 Deanna Leonti

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 05:51 AM

If no animals died, than how would Adam and Eve be able to have
any conception of what was meant by:

"In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die?"

The consequence of death is just a meaningless word unless you have
seen it someplace.


I never thought of it that way, Thank you.
I kind of wonder too that our life here on earth has a physical beginning and a physical end/death, and that the only "Eternal" is eternal.

Deanna

ps. I wonder when the answer of the poll will be posted?

#30 Julian K.

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 09:36 PM

Does it really matter if we manage to find the right answer to this question? Does our redemption depend on settling this issue?

It sounds to me like the old question whether angels have gender :-)

#31 Alex Michael Rusanen

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 09:45 AM

All animals did die, why wasn't that an option?

Animal and vegetable death was part of the first creation, and yes it was good.

God wouldn't have warned Adam and Eve of death if they didn't know what death meant. They witnessed death in the animals.

Human death is the seperation of soul and body, animals have no souls and can not achieve theosis, therefore they naturally die. If animals would be called to eternal life and deification then would we not offer the Cup to them also?

Man is the high-priest of creation, he stands between the temporal animal kingdom and the eternal angelic kingdom.

If animal flesh would not be for nourishment Christ would have ordered vegetarianism to his Chruch.

Edited by Alex Michael Rusanen, 11 June 2008 - 10:15 AM.


#32 Andrew

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 01:37 PM

All animals did die, why wasn't that an option?

Animal and vegetable death was part of the first creation, and yes it was good.

God wouldn't have warned Adam and Eve of death if they didn't know what death meant. They witnessed death in the animals.

Human death is the seperation of soul and body, animals have no souls and can not achieve theosis, therefore they naturally die. If animals would be called to eternal life and deification then would we not offer the Cup to them also?

Man is the high-priest of creation, he stands between the temporal animal kingdom and the eternal angelic kingdom.

If animal flesh would not be for nourishment Christ would have ordered vegetarianism to his Chruch.


Can you show a consensus of writings of the Holy Fathers to support these opinions? I would be interested to see.

#33 Father David Moser

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 01:57 PM

Human death is the seperation of soul and body, animals have no souls and can not achieve theosis, therefore they naturally die. If animals would be called to eternal life and deification then would we not offer the Cup to them also?


Actually, according to St Basil the Great and others, animals do have souls and in that way are significantly different from plants which have only a body. The animal soul, however, is inferior to the human soul in that it is mortal and ceases to exist when the body dies. Neither is the animal soul in any way spiritual in nature and thus animals, as you note, do not participate in the spiritual life or theosis in any way.

Fr David Moser

#34 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 02:29 PM

This is slightly off topic but I pass on something that happened the other day. My wife became aware of a commotion in the back garden. She went out to see a neighbour's cat attacking a pigeon. My wife chased the cat away. The pigeon, distressed and minus quite a few feathers, got to its feet and rested a moment. Remarkably, it turned to my wife, walked towards her, spread out its wings and bent forwards as if bowing in thanks. It then flew away.

#35 Alex Michael Rusanen

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 05:45 PM

Actually, according to St Basil the Great and others, animals do have souls and in that way are significantly different from plants which have only a body. The animal soul, however, is inferior to the human soul in that it is mortal and ceases to exist when the body dies. Neither is the animal soul in any way spiritual in nature and thus animals, as you note, do not participate in the spiritual life or theosis in any way.

Fr David Moser


Well that was my main concern. The hebrew scriptures testify for that which you mentioned too applying the hebrew word "nepesh"/soul to animals.

#36 Alex Michael Rusanen

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 07:02 PM

Can you show a consensus of writings of the Holy Fathers to support these opinions? I would be interested to see.


I have no time at the time to make an eleborate reasearch on this issue; however I know that blessed Augustine and St. Methodios of Patara believed in pre-fallen animal mortality.


Ps. 104 is quite revealing too. In the psalm God is glorified and praised for his wisdom, it is not a lamentation of a fallen world.

When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.

When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works-

When other patristic, biblical or apocryphal sources mention death they oftentimes mean human death in particular, it should not be confused with animal death. Animals are fearless in front of death, they do not lament it nor do they seek it, but it comes naturally to them according to their state. Human death on the other hand is a biological, psychological and spiritual tragedy.

#37 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 09:30 PM

Human death on the other hand is a biological, psychological and spiritual tragedy


Not for them that die in the hope of eternal life. The God of spirits and of all flesh has trampled down death and crushed the devil and given life to the world.

#38 Justin Farr

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 12:08 AM

If no animals died, than how would Adam and Eve be able to have
any conception of what was meant by:

"In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die?"

The consequence of death is just a meaningless word unless you have
seen it someplace.


But God is the Author of Life and Goodness. God is not the Author of Death. God would not create animals to eat one another and live lives of constant survival, just to die and turn back to dust. God is a good God, not an evil God.

And also, when Man fell, all Creation fell with us, and we are redeemed and have to redeem Creation? That came out poorly, but I read a lot of Orthodox teachings on the matter once, and read something similar to this in a long article. I wish I would have saved it somewhere.

#39 Alex Michael Rusanen

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 09:44 AM

Not for them that die in the hope of eternal life. The God of spirits and of all flesh has trampled down death and crushed the devil and given life to the world.


Nope, it is still a tragedy. Death was overcome in the resurrection of Christ, and that is why our true hope lies in the resurrection, the day when our souls unite with our glorified bodies. Disembodied souls reach a kind of perfection, but a human being is not whole without a material body.

If animals were created immortal they should have the right to participate in the resurrection aswell, but they don't.

#40 Alex Michael Rusanen

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 09:46 AM

But God is the Author of Life and Goodness. God is not the Author of Death. God would not create animals to eat one another and live lives of constant survival, just to die and turn back to dust. God is a good God, not an evil God.



Why would God who created animals to eat one another be evil?




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