Did animals die before the Fall? If yes, can dinos be very, very old?
Animal Death could be Consequence of the Fall (Patristic support and scientific consideration)
Carnivores in Eden?
But even if you take some of the details very literally, it still looks like animals and plants died before the Fall—consistent with the findings of modern science.
Cited from: Catholic Answers: Matt Fradd: Was there death before the Fall?
Herein he cites:
In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard to man, but also in regard to other animals. But this is quite unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man's sin, as if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon. Nor does Bede's gloss on Gn. 1:30, say that trees and herbs were given as food to all animals and birds, but to some. Thus there would have been a natural antipathy between some animals. They would not, however, on this account have been excepted from the mastership of man: as neither at present are they for that reason excepted from the mastership of God, Whose Providence has ordained all this. Of this Providence man would have been the executor, as appears even now in regard to domestic animals, since fowls are given by men as food to the trained falcon.
ST, Prima Pars, Q96, A1, Answer to objection nr 2
On the question of beasts devouring each other, St Augustine agrees or seems to agree with St Thomas and Matt Fradd, although De Genesi ad Litteram Book 3 chapter 16* does not expressly mention that this would have been so before or without the fall. Similarily with De Civitate and with St Basil's Hexaemeron:
|Expeditis de nostri saeculi exortu et de initio generis humani difficillimis quaestionibus nunc iam de lapsu primi hominis, immo primorum hominum, et de origine ac propagine mortis humanae disputationem a nobis institutam rerum ordo deposcit.||Having disposed of the very difficult questions concerning the origin of our world and the beginning of the human race, the natural order requires that we now discuss the fall of the first man (we may say of the first men), and of the origin and propagation of human death.|
City of God XIII:1 / De Civitate XIII:1
But each animal is distinguished by peculiar qualities. The ox is steady, the ass is lazy, the horse has strong passions, the wolf cannot be tamed, the fox is deceitful, the stag timid, the ant industrious, the dog grateful and faithful in his friendships. As each animal was created the distinctive character of his nature appeared in him in due measure; in the lion spirit, taste for solitary life, an unsociable character. True tyrant of animals, he, in his natural arrogance, admits but few to share his honours. He disdains his yesterday's food and never returns to the remains of the prey. Nature has provided his organs of voice with such great force that often much swifter animals are caught by his roaring alone.
So, theoretically, dinosaurs could have existed and devoured each other before man was there, say between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, thus reviving the gap theory.
The problem therewith is not so much theological, at least in the tradition of Sts Augustine and Thomas Aquinas (I have not checked with St Gregory of Nyssa or with St Basil the Great as yet), but more scientific before it becomes theological again: if we accept such and such immense ages for T Rex and Brontosaurus, like present evolutionist datings of millions of years we can hardly say that the atmosphere had no or little C14 when the men in Cro-Magnon or Le Moustier lived, and thus we would be stuck with the datings for them too, and we would have men dying before Adam sinned or anatomically human beings not counting as men: Cro-Magnon (named after that find, also living in Les Eyzies) are anatomically horse faced Europeans, Neanderthals - who lived in Le Moustier - are men with round faces, not exactly identical to any today known race, but within the range of human variability. If these are men, they did not die before Adam did. If these were not men, men appearing biologically as men can for different reasons be considered as just apes. So, not wanting to call either Adam of one Australian team, nor Adam before God breathed into his nostrils an ape** I am stuck with Cro-Magnon and Le Moustier finds being misdated, and that means that earth is young enough for atmosphere's C14 to be or to have recently been in a buildup stage, and that means T Rex and Bronto cannot be millions of years either. A short while according to gap theory would be possible.
Or they could have existed outside paradise - man at first giving appropriate Brontos to deserving Tyrannosauri. Or dinos may have been engineered by genetical and other modification. Nodian civilisation was wicked.
BpI, Georges Pompidou
Corpus Christi Feast
* http://ppt.li/49 = Google Books, De Genesi ad Litteram LIbri Duodecim, Online
** CMI: David Catchpoole: ‘Ape’ slur against Australian indigenous footballer Adam Goodes sparks anti-racism backlash—yet censorship still prevails
Update the Day after:
I had another look at the fathers and on Bible verses that indirectly could seem to make for a reading of vegetarian lions in Paradise. Now, Hexaemeron by St Basil seems to have used the parts of creation as reminders for our present life after the fall. Not surprisingly, since Genesis 1 is epistle reading for beginning of lent in eastern rite. But if I thought other Church Fathers would confirm what Bede invalidated followed by St Thomas and what St Augustine seemed to invalidate, I was a bit disappointed:
Victorinus On the Creation of the World : Victorinus Commentary on Apocalypse of St John
I was surprised to find that Victorinus thought angels had been formed late during the six days, unless I misunderstood, but nothing about the diet of lions.
Then there is the question of prophecy, on how it reflects on earthly paradise. If you read certain passages in Isaiah as Jehovah's Witnesses, as being about a restored earthly paradise, they would of course reflect what was true of the first paradise. But here are the passages with the commentaries of Haydock:
Isaiah 11:6 *The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf, and the lion, and the sheep, shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them.
7 The calf, and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk.
9 They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea.
[With the comment:]
Ver. 6. Wolf. Some explain this of the Millennium. (apud St. Jerome) (Lactantius vii. 24.) --- But the more intelligent understand, that the fiercest nations shall embrace the gospel, and kings obey the pastors of the Church. (Calmet) --- Lead. Or "drive," as the word is used by Festus. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Basilisk. Psalm ix. 13. The apostles subdued kings and philosophers, without any human advantages.
Ver. 9. Kill. The most inveterate pagans, being once converted, entirely alter their manners, Osee ii. 18.
Isaiah 65:25 *The wolf and the lamb shall feed together; the lion and the ox shall eat straw: and dust shall be the serpent's food: they shall not hurt, nor kill in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
[With the comment:]
Ver. 25. Straw. People of the most perverse tempers shall become mild by the influence of the gospel, and shall dwell together in perfect concord. (Calmet) --- Food, according to the sentence, Genesis iii. 14. (Menochius) --- The devil's power is abridged, chap. xi. 6. (Calmet) --- The proudest Gentiles are converted, and adopt the mild manners of Christians, in fasting and mortification. (Worthington)
In other words, paradise is restored - for man, in the Church, in monasticism. The wolf and the lamb fed together when Clovis had obeyed the injunction "mitis depone colla, Sigamber", "bend thy neck humbly, Sigambrian." Not among beasts.
So, in patristics so far, it is man's death that came with Adam's sin. But it actually did come so, and that leaves the argument like above./HGL
Romans 8:19 For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him, that made it subject in hope:
21 Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
22 For we know that every creature groaneth, and is in labour even till now.
Ver. 19. The expectation of the creature. He speaks of the corporal creation, made for the use and service of man; and, by occasion of his sin made subject to vanity, that is, to a perpetual instability, tending to corruption and other defects; so that by a figure of speech, it is here said to groan and be in labour, and to long for its deliverance, which is then to come, when sin shall reign no more; and God shall raise the bodies, and united them to their souls, never more to separate, and to be in everlasting happiness in heaven. (Challoner)
Waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. That is, for the time after this life, when it shall be made manifest that they are the sons of God, and heirs of the kingdom of his glory. Several interpreters understand all creatures whatsoever, even irrational and inanimate creatures of this world, which are represented as if they had a knowledge and sense of a more happy condition, of a new unchangeable state of perfection, which they are to receive at the end of the world. See 2 Peter i. 13; Apocalypse xxi. 1. Now every insensible creature is figuratively brought in groaning like a woman in labour, waiting, and wishing for that new and happy state; but in the mean time unwillingly made subject to vanity, i.e. to these changeable imperfections of generations and corruptions, which then they shall be delivered from. (Witham)
The creature, &c. The creatures expect with impatience, and hope with confidence, to see a happy change in their condition; they flatter themselves that they will be delivered from the captivity of sin, to which man has reduced them, and enter into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. Not that the inanimate creation will really participate the happiness and glory of the elect; although in some sense they may be said to have part in it, since they will enter into a pure, incorruptible and perfect state to the end of ages. They will no longer be subject to those changes and vicissitudes which sin has brought upon them; nor will sinful man any longer abuse their beauty and goodness in offending the Creator of all. St. Ambrose and St. Jerome teach that the sun, moon, and stars will be then much more brilliant and beautiful than at present, no longer subject to those changes they at present suffer. Philo and Tertullian teach that the beasts of prey will then lay aside their ferocity, and venomous serpents their poisonous qualities. (Calmet)
Other, by the creature or creatures, understand men only, and Christians, who groan under miseries and temptations in this mortal life, amidst the vanities of this world, under the slavery of corruption; who having already (ver. 23.) received the first-fruits of the Spirit, the grace of God in baptism, have been made the children of God, and now, with expectation and great earnestness, wait and long for a more perfect adoption of the sons of God: for the redemption of their bodies, when the bodies, as well as the souls of the elect, shall rise to an immortal life, and complete happiness in heaven. (Witham)
In other words, authorities are divided on precisely how this applies and if it applies to irrational animals./HGL
One may perhaps assume that although rabbits might have been eaten by lions, they would not have suffered things like long suffering in cancer./HGL