If Death & Disease Are Because Of Sin Why Do Animals Also Suffer Such Things?

There was obviously death & disease before human beings existed. How does that fit into the narrative of death being due to the “Fall Of Man”, etc? Is it just that animals were meant to experience death / disease and humans were not? Or is there more to it than that?


I remember CA writing an article about this some time ago, but I can’t for the life of me recall the title. In the meantime, I leave you with this:


Basically, the genesis narratives apply to human death, not animal death. They are a poetic expression of a fundamental truth: Pain and suffering came to be part of our reality as human beings because we chose to reject God who is life and goodness.

I definitely recommend checking out thomisticevolution.org. In it, Dominican scholars provide a pretty thorough account of how the theory of evolution seamlessly ties into a Catholic conception of the world and its origins.

Animals, plants and the rest of creation was not created for eternal life. Man was, only man was created in the image and likeness of God. God gave us eternal life and it was our decision to try and know everything God knows from which God gave us what we wanted. Now we know death, disease, suffering and the like.

Oh, okay.

But, although animals do not have rational souls and were not created for the supernatural Beatific Vision, it is creation in general which is affected by the Fall and not exclusively human beings. Which means the world would have been prepared in anticipation of the Fall (and also in anticipation of the Redemption). It is possible that without the Fall, animals and plants would live without death, though in a natural existence rather than the supernatural one of men and angels.

The universe around us is a natural portrait of supernatural realities. The beauty in nature is a shadow of the beauty of Heaven, or the splendor of God, or the might of God: the sky, the thunder, the breeze, the waves, the sunshine, etc. Dangerous aspects of the universe are reflections of supernatural realities as well: predators, poisonous insects, cataclysmic events, worms inside of a corpse, etc. Everything we see, taste, hear, smell, and touch is in some way a shadow of a supernatural reality.

According to the traditional Catholic view, when the fall of man occurred, the universe fell too, introducing disorder into nature. I wouldn’t think God would create a universe where there are hurricanes, cancer, and disease of all sorts. Man threw a monkey wrench into the universe.

Man was given supernatural grace because man was created for perfect union with God. Nature wasn’t. Man turned away from God though, and rejected union with him through sin. So, the ways of nature came upon us, that is death and suffering. This is not how things are suppose to be for man though, so God sent his Son into the world to restore union with him, the union we were created for.

I don’t know, but please pray for the animals, that their lives may be as pleasant as possible. And please pray for cats and kittens especially because of their beauty and innocence.

Seems like some of us haven’t been reading our Bibles very carefully…

Look here at ***Romans 8:[19] For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;
[20] for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope;
[21] because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.
[22] We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now;
[23] and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
[24] For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
[25] But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
[26] Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
[27] And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

[FONT=Georgia]So then we see that all creation suffers because of our fall and awaits redemption even as we do. Keep in mind that a lot of nature’s sufferings are at the hands mankind who is not a good steward. [/FONT]

That is actually true of all animals. They cannot sin yet they suffer because of man’s sin. They are all innocent. My newest little buddy Mattie here says to tell you all “Hi!”.

What a lovely kitty!

Looks so comfy wrapped in the blanket, too. :slight_smile:

She’s a good cat. She is a feral rescue (note the clipped left ear) and she has taken some kind of injury to her left eye but is not blind in it. We met her at the local Petco store in a special Junior Humane Society area and when I saw her and that eye and the Holy Spirit just called me to make her our new friend. She knows it too because she thinks I’m Joe cool or something.:smiley: She’s gradually getting squared away with our other cat whose about 10+ years old. They are our good friends and I just have a “thing” about cats and dogs and trying to insure that I am a good steward to them.

They may only have a material soul, but Jesus said He is the resurrection and the life. A new heavens and a new earth and a new creation. Yeah, I pray for my animals.

It sounds like she’s settling in nicely, Michael.

We have a brown-striped tabby who is going to be 20 next year, with markings similar to hers.

She likes to climb on my lap, every chance that she gets.

God bless our animals! I am grateful to have such loving companions in this life! :slight_smile:


Okay, I cannot argue that, but how does one reconcile that with the theological position of everything having a soul, but only humans have souls created for eternity? Does my dog have an eternal soul? Furthermore how would that play into the account with animals that were around before mans existence? Did they not suffer? Or are you of the mind that nothing existed before the creation of man and thus sin?

Only Adam and Eve were gifted with what we refer to as the preternatural gifts.

Sin affects the entire world and throws the natural order off-balance.

That’s why when God ordered the flood he only had Noah bring a limited number of animals (instead of bringing every single specimen).

I have wondered the same - not so much about animals having souls, but about the state of nature before the fall of man, etc. I think sometimes we try to exact answers from the Bible - the scriptures aren’t scientific / date specific works…

Because the animals obviously are now outside of Eden just like us.
And guess where the Tree of Life is planted ;)?

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