Predation in nature is the act of killing a creature with the intent to eat it. It is often associated with such animals as lions, wolves, and sharks. Many of these predators have specialized features like claws. Other creatures that form the prey are in many cases equipped to hide from or defend against predators. Predation is an easily seen form of natural selection.
Argument against creation
Predation often arises in origins debates as an argument against the God of the Bible in general and creationists in particular. Young Earth Creationists point to the descriptive words of "good" and "very good" in Genesis 1, as well as God’s giving plants for food to everything with the "breath of life." The term "very good" would seem to imply that there was no death at this point, and hence no predation. This is in contrast to what is observed today, where many kinds of animals depend upon the meat of other animals in order to survive. Moreover, many types of animals exhibit traits which appear specifically suited for killing and consuming meat. It is claimed that there is no instance in scripture that indicates any such shift.
There are several hypotheses given as to the origin of carnivory and predation. Note that not all of these are mutually exclusive.
Fall and alteration
Some creationists point to Genesis 3:18, where an aspect of nature was redesigned to be hostile towards man:
It [the ground] will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. Genesis 3:18
This instance may have encompassed more than just plants and covered animals as well. It is earlier mentioned that at least the serpent was changed:
So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life." Genesis 3:14
Fall and activation
A related line of thought is that certain offensive and defensive features were already preprogrammed into the animal’s DNA, but laid dormant until they were "switched on" by the Creator at the Fall of man. God would have known that man would give in to sin and set up a sort of "safety feature" wherein animals would be able to survive in a fallen world.
Flood and shift
Perhaps a very pertinent verse regarding animal predation is Genesis 9:1-6:
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man." Genesis 9:1-6
After the Flood, man was given permission to eat the meat of other creatures, but there is also mention of a behavioral change in animals. They were made to fear man. But another interesting note is that any animal that killed a man was to be held accountable. This may infer that animals would be allowed to kill other animals, but just not man.
Another idea is that predatory features and behavior arose as a result of degenerate mutations. These mutations would have corrupted the original animal designs, distorting such features as teeth and claws to be more suited for killing. Mutations could also have resulted in certain animals losing the ability to digest their original plant foods, or having that ability lessened. This may be evident in animals for which certain species eat meat, but for which the animal's kind in general does not exhibit such characteristics.
Definition of life
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. Leviticus 17:11
Therefore, any creature that does not have blood may be considered as not living in the Biblical sense. This would mean that plants and insects are not technically alive, and their "deaths" would not be an act of "killing."
Change in environment
Tied in with a switch of diet after the Flood is the likelihood that nutrient values of plants would have been much different before and after the cataclysmic environment change. Certain protein levels in plants can be quite high. Antediluvian ecosystems may have been able to support plants with even higher amounts.
Animals that are usually considered meat eaters, such as dogs and even lions, in reality consume a significant level of grain and fruit. Domestic dog meal is comprised largely of cereal, and coyotes are actually fond of fruit. There is a case of the lion that could not stomach even the smell of a bone, but was raised by humans on a diet of grain, eggs, and milk. Mosquitoes are not all blood suckers either--the males survive on nectar. Furthermore, features that are commonly associated with carnivory are in many cases used for purposes other than killing. For example, reptiles with sharp teeth and bats with fangs eat fruit. In at least one instance, an evolutionist has even presented the possibility that dinosaurs used their claws to open coconuts (although this was meant to mock creationists).
- Creation’s original diet and the changes at the Fall
- Why Were Dangerous Animals Created? PDF (anti Young Earth Creationist)
- Edible protein per unit area of land
- Humans and Animals were originally Created to eat Only Plants!
- The lion that wouldn’t eat meat
- How Did Defense/Attack Structures Come About? The New Answers Book