It is important to Christian doctrine that death came as a result of sin. If death, disease, and bloodshed existed for billions of years prior to Adam’s sin (as the evolutionary worldview tells us), then these things are included as something that God called very good (Gen 1:31) and the curse of Adam’s sin was not all that distinct from processes that had existed since the beginning. Genesis 3:16-19 reads:
To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing’…Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.
Adam’s sin brought death and pain into the world, but the evolutionary view tells us that death over billions of years brought mankind into the world. Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.” The evolutionary worldview tells us that by the countless deaths of billions of intermediates, human kind was brought about. The two views are mutually exclusive and cannot be reconciled.
Some will say that Adam only brought spiritual death upon himself and his descendants. This argument fails in part because, if it was a spiritual death only, then why did Jesus have to die a horrific physical death to pay the penalty for our sins? If spiritual death was the only punishment for Adam, then why did Jesus not have to die only a spiritual death as payment for sin? But Jesus did die a horrible physical death for our sin (Heb 9). He took every curse of sin upon himself in our place.
Others might say that it was just human death as part of the curse. They contend that animals have been dying for billions of years. If it was just the physical deaths of only humans that Adam’s sin brought, then why did Jesus sacrifice an animal right there in the garden to cover their sins and nakedness (Gen 3:21)? Why was the picture of covering sins to sacrifice an animal until Jesus came (Ex 24:8)? If evolution were God’s creative mechanism, and the trivial death of animals had been happening for billions of years, would this natural/trivial process be an adequate representation of the excruciating death of the Creator of Life that the Hebrews were told to practice for thousands of years in anticipation of the Messiah (Heb 9:22)? Because the bloodshed of an animal without defect (Ex 12:5, I Pet 1:19) was a picture of the coming bloodshed from the Messiah, it does not align with the theistic evolutionary idea that the curse of sin did not also include animals. People have told me that Adam’s sin brought only human death because animal death is not really bad…it’s part of life. It’s always been part of God’s plan. But this is in direct opposition to 1 Corinthians 15:26 “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Death is not some benign counterpart of life. It is a curse of sin. It is an enemy that we all have to face and that Jesus had to face to pay for our sins.