Questions From Readers
● Some animals have characteristics that seem especially suited to killing, such as lions and poisonous snakes. How can this be, if they were all vegetarians at one time?—L. K., Netherlands.
It is understandable that this question might arise, for as things stand now many animals do kill one another for food. But please note that this is as things stand now. Is there anyone on the earth who can say from personal observation how these animals acted six thousand years ago?
Throughout the earth humans kill animals and eat their flesh. But does man’s ability to chew and digest meat prove that all men eat meat or that men have always eaten meat? No, for God’s Word, the oldest and most reliable history of mankind, shows that originally Jehovah gave man “all vegetation bearing seed” and “every tree on which there is the a fruit of a tree bearing seed” as food. It was not until over sixteen hundred years later that God permitted a change of diet for man, allowing him to hunt animals for food.—Gen. 1:29; 9:2, 3.
True, those who believe that man and animals evolved over a period of millions of years might not accept this, but it is what the Word of God says, and Jesus Christ said, “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) If the present diet and mode of life of humans does not represent what it originally was, is it not possible that the same is true of animals?
We must keep in mind that scientists are limited in their knowledge. Even if a man is an authority in some field of animal life, he does not know all there is to know about an animal as it now lives, to say nothing about how it lived thousands of years in the past. Those who are humble and sincere admit this. The very fact that scientists have different opinions proves the point.
For instance, the question came up as to whether cobras can hear sounds. On November 27, 1968, an Associate Curator of Reptiles at one of the large zoological gardens in the United States wrote: “All snakes are unable to hear sounds; this also includes the Cobra.” That seems quite final. However, on the very same day the Curator and Chairman of the Department of Herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History explained: “It has been generally assumed . . . that snakes are deaf to air-borne sounds. Recent evidence has it, though, that some snakes can hear low-pitched sounds. How this relates to the cobra problem is uncertain. The weight of evidence is still in favor of the theory that it is movement rather than sound that influences the cobras, but the matter certainly is not closed.”
The Bible long ago indicated that the cobra hears the “voice of charmers,” but could refuse to listen just as a human can refuse to hear. (Ps. 58:4, 5) Would it be wise to reject what the Bible says just because some scientists think the facts to be otherwise? The above quotations show that the answer is, No. Similarly, that certain current evidence does not seem to support what the Bible says about animal life in the past should not cause one to reject God’s inspired Word.
Another thing, is one justified in concluding that the way an animal uses its body today is the only possible way? As an example, a tiger uses its fangs and claws to catch, kill and tear apart other animals. Yet, could not these same fangs and claws be used in tearing apart heavy vegetation and ripping off husks and shells?
‘But what about poisonous snakes?’ someone may ask. Animal poisons might appear to be just for killing or protection, but are they? In “Animal Poisoners” H. Munro Fox wrote: “In some cases we know that poisons play a role in the functioning of the body of the animal which manufactures them. In many instances this may be the real raison d’être [reason for existence] of the venoms, quite apart from any protective value. The poisonous spittle of snakes, for example, has work to do in the digestion of the snake’s food.” Another illustration is a certain green marine worm that is partly covered with a poisonous slime. Is this poison to protect it from being eaten? It might seem so. Yet if the young of this worm settle on this slime, the poison changes them into microscopic males instead of the large females they would have developed into if they settled on the sea floor.
It is true that hundreds or even thousands of problem cases might be brought up, ones that apparently indicate that animals always killed one another, that this is necessary for the “balance of nature.” But should our lack of complete knowledge of God’s creation cause us to lose faith in him and his Word? Should we let questions about preying animals prey on us?
The Bible explains that in the paradise in Eden God gave to “every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens . . . all green vegetation for food.” (Gen. 1:30) Later all of the basic kinds of land animals lived in Noah’s ark for a whole year without devouring one another. And evidently drawing on the conditions that existed in Eden and that will be restored in the future, God’s Word says: “The cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra . . . They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain.”—Isa. 11:7-9.
Surely the grand Creator who made the heavens and all that is in them, who arranged the perfect balance and order of the stars and who knows how harmony and peace existed in Eden, can restore paradise conditions. Bringing about a “balance of nature” wherein animals do not kill one another is not beyond His ability, is it? So, let us look forward to that time with confidence and trust.