Rabbit Reproduction and the Garden of Eden
I have posted before of my leaning toward the “old earth” perspective of the age of the universe. However, I have not touched on the topic of the possibility of death on earth prior to the fall of humanity. I expect that those who hold to the belief that death did not exist on earth prior to Adam’s sin would have some level of curiosity about what life on earth actually looked like without the presence of death.
One thing is sure: It would not simply look like it does now, but without the presence of death. From the microbes that live off the decaying matter in your digestive tract to the blue whale filtering tons of krill through its baleens each day, death has an integral part in sustaining and shaping the world of the living.
Consider, for example, the lowly female rabbit, a creature that bears as many as twelve kits at a time, is always fertile and has a gestation of a month. In the absence of predation and natural death, a normal rabbit pair could quickly multiply to a number that would destroy every living plant on earth.
Is a rabbit’s reproductive biology a design innovation introduced after the fall as a sort of Rabbit 2.0 for the purpose of feeding the newly-revised Coyote 2.0, who has given up his herbivorous proclivities? Was the pre-fall cheetah a slow-moving, tree-dwelling creature akin to a sloth, with no need for razor-sharp eyesight and finely-tuned muscles to propel it 60 miles/hour in pursuit of an antelope?
Of course, the above could be true, but I don’t think it is required by a contextual reading of scripture. Adam’s sin introduced death to the human race (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21), but there are no passages stating that death did not exist in creation prior to Adam’s sin. If anything, the presence of death outside the human race would have emphasized Adam’s dominion over creation and uniqueness as one created in the image of God, and it would have provided him a vivid picture of the consequences of disobeying God’s command.