Question of the Week: Does Genesis 1:30 say that all animals were herbivores prior to Adam and Eve’s fall into sin?
My Answer: In this biblical text God is explaining to the first man and woman, and through them all humanity, the authority and responsibility he is giving them. God puts humanity in charge of managing all of Earth’s resources for their own benefit and for the benefit of the rest of Earth’s life. Much amplification of this authority and responsibility is given in the book of Job. In Genesis 1:30 God commands humans to pay special attention to taking good care of the green vegetation (photosynthetic life). Green vegetation is the base of the entire food chain. Without green vegetation, nobody gets to eat. The more green vegetation there is and the more diverse it is, the better off will be all of Earth’s life.
This biblical text, therefore, is not saying that all animals were herbivores before Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. Herbivores need specially designed carnivores in order to keep their death rate and disease at low levels. Many field experiments affirm the devastation to herbivores that occurs when these herbivores lack carnivores.
Humans living before Noah’s flood were vegetarians since they had the capacity to live past 900 years. One cannot live to 900 years of age on a meat diet. Such a diet over that period of time will lead to the accumulation of too heavy a load of heavy metals in the body. Note in Genesis 9:3 that after Noah’s Flood, God gave permission to Noah and his descendants to eat meat. The permission did not need to be extended to all animals since apparently it was already granted before the Flood. For much more on this question see chapter 13 of Navigating Genesis. This chapter is free to everyone at reasons.org/ross.