A central component of the worldview taught by young-earth creationism proponents like Ken Ham is the idea that physical death (for humans and animals), pain and suffering of all kinds did not exist in the world before Adam and Eve’s sin.
Although, admittedly, this view greatly simplifies the Bible (almost to the point that you don’t need it at all!) and the Christian faith, and provides a succint answer to the problem of natural evil, there is almost no scriptural support for the idea. In fact, most of the biblical evidence seems to go strongly against it.
So, those who nevertheless cling doggedly to the doctrine are forced to grasp at whatever straws they can find, and occasionally, they find them in highly questionable interpretations of a few biblical prophecies.
Recently, a GOE commenter presented three:
I’ll respond to each in turn.
First of all, and I don’t know if I can say this strongly enough in print, but the Romans passage referenced here (Romans 8:18-30) is not about sin. It does not reference sin, the punishment for sin, the consequences of sin, or anything that is remotely connected to sin in even the most indirect, tangential way.
It is a passage that is leapt on by the Genesis literalists, not because it actually fits, but because it is one of the very few passages in the Bible that might fit, and they need something biblical to support their unscriptural theology.
What Romans 8 actually says was that creation was subject to a temporal, transitory existence, not as a punishment, but “in hope” that God would use it to reveal something even greater.
And, contrary to the YEC reading, the “he who subjected” creation to this existence is clearly not Adam, but God. That’s right: Even using a hermeneutic designed for no other purpose than to support their views, this passage does not support YECs’ views.
As to Isaiah 65:25, the vast majority of commentators agree that this passage is a metaphorical reference to people, not a literal representation of animals. As expositor John Gill notes, the “lambs” and “oxen” are the people of God, while the “wolves” and “lions” and “serpent” refer to the wicked.
Since, in its proper context, the entire chapter refers to people — particularly, the nation of Israel — it seems likely that the final verse would continue this trend, rather than doing a complete about-face and describing God’s future intentions for a handful of animal species.
And, I can’t help but mention, metaphor is kind of incredibly common in the prophetic books. To give one example, the same book also calls the Messiah a “shoot” and a “branch.”
I would ask any young-earther who would claim Isaiah 65 as support for their views, is Isaiah 11 meant to be read literally as well? Are we to believe Jesus wasn’t really God’s annointed one after all, since he was a man and not a plant?
And finally, Revelation. Yes, Revelation 21 says — and most Christians believe, trust in and eagerly hope for — that in the future, there will be no more death.
… So what? This seems almost too obvious to have to spell out, but well, here we are: Just because the text says something will be a certain way in the future in no way necessitates that it was that way in the past.
Revelation 21:4 simply says what it says: There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain in the future. That is surely enough. It says nothing about the past, and asserting that it does is exactly the kind of extrabiblical supplementation that Revelation later condemns.