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This question, most likely, has the presumption of theistic evolution or at least 'old-earth' creationism, however answers without that presumption are welcome.

Suffering and pain exist in our world is because of sin (Isaiah 24:2-6 among others); presumably animals and the the entire created universe suffer the "groaning of creation" (Romans 8:19-22) because of sin. And we wait on the redemption of the world through Christ.

However, before the fall, or before humans even existed, there must have been countless animals and creatures who suffered horrifically (as many do today). Why were these animals allowed to suffer, as it seems they did, before sin had even entered the world?

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Why is it that "there must have been countless animals and creatures who suffered horrifically"? –  mjgpy3 Dec 8 '12 at 20:07
    
Probably related: Does Genesis 3:16 imply that there was pain / sorrow before the fall? My hypothetical answer would probably be along the lines of my answer to What was life like in Eden before the fall? –  Jon Ericson Dec 8 '12 at 20:47
    
@mjgpy3 vast amounts of time during which animals killed or were killed by each other and or natural disasters, famine, disease, etc. –  aceinthehole Dec 8 '12 at 21:16
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2 Answers

According to the first three chapters of Genesis, it appears that there was no killing in the Garden. Later, when Isaiah prophesied about "the Lion lying down with the lamb," it is an echo of that state of nature which is so unlike the one today. From a Biblical point of view then, I would have to disagree with your premise.

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So, even if you disagree with the premise, and you assume time between the creation and the fall was a very short period of time, say a month, what would certain animals have done for food? You can imagine the lion perhaps eating vegetables, but what about sharks, or t-rex? They are biologically engineered to eat meat, its hard to imagine predators being able to survive long without a kill, and even if they could, then why were they created (biologically) in such a way as to preform best under circumstances which God had not intended them to live? –  aceinthehole Dec 8 '12 at 22:18
    
I'm just trying to stay within the narrative. My guess is that before the fall, the biology was somehow different. The real point that I'm getting at is that the sources available to us do not really have anything more to bear on this question, in the same way that physics has nothing to bear on the first few fractions of a second after the big bang. –  Affable Geek Dec 9 '12 at 0:59
    
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_epoch For the physics context. –  Dougvj Dec 9 '12 at 2:50
    
See? I might not believe in the Big Bang, but at least I've done some reading into it :) –  Affable Geek Dec 9 '12 at 3:14
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Before the fall, Adam and Eve were extremely noble(being almost Angelic they could not die) thus, there was no death and before Adam existed, animals were very noble, just as todays humans are more highly capable of being more noble than animals. In the same way animals before the Fall of Adam, animals were more noble than humans of today in a Certain Sense(One of many examples:Animals do not have human reasoning powers) only. Animals did not die since the environment did not support death, fermentation or decay before the Fall of Adam. For example: even after the Fall of Adam grape juice would not turn to wine because people would live upto 1000 years and there was very very slow decay. But only after the Water Deluge God allowed the reduction of the age limit of man and decay began rapidly. Thus grape juice would decay and turn to wine and for this reason Noah got drunk unknowingly since he did not getting drunk with grape juice before the Deluge.

Before the Fall of Adam, there existed plants and trees which were more nourishing than animal flesh. Hence there was no need for animals to eat other animals since, the then existing highly nourishing plants and trees would supply their needs perfectly. After the Fall of Adam, those highly nourishing plants, began to become extinct, and those animals(For example: t-rex) which relied on them now began to look for alternatives, until the only alternative remaining was the flesh of other animals.

Animals do not sin against the commandments of God because they naturally do not have higher intelligent reasoning capabilities like humans beings have thus they follow instinct. For example: some animals still continue to live unclothed in caves for thousands of years they do not have intelligence to wear suits and build skyscrapers. Thus animals are not "cursed" with suffering. Even humans are not "cursed" or "punished" by God, rather God has withdrawn His Blessings just as a smart father would withdraw a gun from his child if the child uses it to hurt himself or others without stopping or asking for pardon. Adam and Eve abused the gifts, control and freedom and did not even ask for pardon. Thus God withdrew the gifts and powers. Catholic.

The reason why the Infinite God allows animals to suffer the consequences of Original Sin which man caused is because mankind would not tolerate animals easily if they were exempted from suffering the effects of Original Sin. God allowed animals to suffer and die because of Original Sin in order to grant mankind some bare minimum "comfort" in his Journey(unavoidable suffering and death) through this Valley of Tears(life on earth) until he may live worthily to merit Heaven.

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