Some believers claim that the entire material creation is fallen and that meat eating, death and cruelty among the animals are not natural conditions but are due to the fall of Adam and Eve, In other words, some curse was placed on the material creation making it perverse because of their disobedience. We can not read this anywhere. Is it implied? I believe we can safely say this is not the case. Let us look at verses nevertheless claimed to say so. In Genesis, they find two important verses, 1:31 and 3:17.
Genesis 1:31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
God said it was very good, so some say it must mean peace, harmony and no meat eating. There is no evidence in this, it is an inference. If we read much idealism into “very good”, we can say it was not better than the fall could happen later. They had not eaten of the symbolic tree of life or tree of knowledge and after the fall, they were prevented to eat from the tree of life (Genesis 3:22). They were mortal, innocent and ignorant but surely well functioning biologically, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). They lived in harmony with God until their disobedience. They were like the generations to come “living by the law” (Romans 10:5).
Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”
We are told this means that the entire material creation is fallen/cursed. However, the verses are clearly speaking of Adam’s hard life as a farmer following the loss of their harmonious life with God. Reading a bit further in Genesis, we learn that it would be man that would become a curse to the rest of material creation:
Genesis 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand.
In recent history this has become even more true with pollution and destruction of much creation. Some also appeal to this New Testament passage as evidence of a cursed material creation:
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
There is basically two ways to understand “the creation”, and different commentators favor them. The most obvious to me is that “the creation” indeed is all material creation (we must again exclude the angels). This must include some figurative language as (most other) animals can not reason, experience the “aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers” (1 Peter 1:18) and their blessing would not be the experience of heaven but a lifting of the Genesis 9:2 curse. This is also in line with ancient thinking where animals sympathised with the good humans. The other interpretation is that it is mankind only or the gentiles. Either way, the phrase “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly” refutes the Augustinian/YEC/Fundamentalist/Evangelical “original sin” misanthropic teaching. The verse confirms that Adam and Eve and their descendants did not wish for the separation from God. God did it, but “in hope”. The hope was Christ (Genesis 3:15, Colossians 1:20). Man is the ruler of the material creation (Genesis 1:26) and that way man/Adam is the federal head representing and acting on behalf of all material creation (Romans 5:14). Christ is the second Adam as well as the Lord of all. Finally, there is a strong universalist teaching here, emphasising the blessing/salvation of all with the saints as the firstfruits. There is no support for a literal curse of all material creation.