Back in Jr. High School, our math teacher used to ask if we’d rather have 1 million dollars, or the value of one penny after it’d been doubled every day for a month. The smart answer was the penny, because after 30 days it would grow to over 5 million dollars. But the point is this: numbers grow exponentially when doubled.
This exponential growth would also be seen in animals, had it not been for the perpetual cycle of death and predation that keeps their numbers under control. But this wasn’t always the case…
“…Scripture tells us that sin brought about animal death, something that did not occur prior to the Fall.”
~Bodie Hodge for Answers in Genesis
Many Christians believe that all the animals in Eden were vegetarians, and there was no death (because what God created was “good”). But God also made these animals to reproduce “after their own kind,” which presents a bit of a logistical problem.
If there were one of every species of animal (living or extinct) in Eden, there would be (conservatively) 10 million pairs of animals. If each healthy, adult pair had an average of just one offspring per year, there would be over 1 billion critters after just 12 years! And in 30 years, there would be over 13 trillion! And in 100 years, well… the planet would be overrun with animals!
In other words, Adam had to fail, or God would’ve had to bring reproduction to a halt in just a few years.
Defending my numbers
I acknowledge that: 1) this is a very rough estimate, 2) some animals would need a few years before they could reproduce, and 3) some may not reproduce every year. But after these animals did mature, they could potentially produce offspring indefinitely (presuming they remain in perfect health). Some animals also produce multiple offspring, and some reproduce several times per year. So I don’t think an average of one offspring per year per animal is unreasonable.
Even with death, disease, war, abortion, menopause and miscarriage, we humans are still able to grow our numbers exponentially (from a few million to 7 billion in 2,000 years). It’s also not uncommon to see mice, rats, rabbits, locusts, and other animals/insects overrun an environment when there is nothing there to stop them. In short, it’s not difficult to imagine that if animals never died, they would quickly fill up the earth.
So what would’ve happened if Adam never sinned?
If Adam never sinned, I can only imagine the scenario that might’ve unfolded in heaven…
Jesus: “What’s wrong God?”
God: “Oh, it’s my creation again, I may have made a minor error in my calculations. I put 20 million animals in the garden and now there are a trillion. I just don’t understand –”
Jesus: “A trillion! Holy crap!”
God: “Yes, there’s a lot of crap, too. It’s getting so crowded down there that they can hardly move.”
Jesus: “So… what are you gonna do?”
God: “I dunno, but if mankind doesn’t sin soon, I may have to scrap this whole project. What would Jesus do?”
Jesus: “I would make a much larger planet.”
God: “Okay, well… what would Satan do?”
Jesus: “WWSD!? Why that ol’ snake would take full advantage of their ignorance and naivete! He would flat-out lie to them about the consequences of sin and they would totally trust him! It would be like lying to a baby!”
Jesus: “What!? You can’t be serious. You’re serious.”
At worst, the Garden of Eden story is illogical and absurd.
At best, God knew Adam was going to fail, and planned ahead by creating animals that could reproduce fast enough to stay one step ahead of extinction… well… except for all the animals that couldn’t reproduce fast enough to stay one step ahead of extinction.