Inspirational Readings for Your Daily Walk with God:

Christian Mediation

 "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15



5. Death and Decay

POPULAR science is puzzled over many things, for it fails to reckon with two fundamental principles: (1) that the earth was created perfect, and (2) that the advent of sin brought death and degeneration upon all living things. Not only were the results of sin seen in the fall of man and his loss of dominion over nature, but every living creature suffered from the curse in two ways. In the first place, the usurper, Satan, was unable to control the kingdom he had seized; in the second place, he deliberately set about to corrupt and destroy. Only in the light of these facts can we understand what has happened to plants and animals since sin came into the world.

Some undesirable features in nature seem to be but the natural results of degeneracy. Thorns and thistles are merely modified leaves and stems. Poisonous plants have been produced by changes in the chemical products formed within their tissues. Weeds are nothing more than plants that have developed the ability of growing at the expense of more desirable kinds while furnishing nothing of particular value in the form of flowers, fruit, or seeds.

The corruption in the animal kingdom is seen in many ways. One evidence of the departure of animals from the original plan is seen in the confused species that have come from intermingling of different kinds. Without doubt the original kinds were so clearly differentiated that there would be no difficulty in distinguishing them. But today there are several intermediate species which so partake of the nature of two or more kinds that they appear to have come from a cross between them. Whether or not we admit of crossing between the original “kinds, it is apparent that today, to a considerable degree, commingling of different kinds does occur.

Among common living animals and plants a student occasionally finds one that could easily be explained as having come by hybridization. In California the oracle oak looks like the black oak in every way except that the leaves are evergreen and somewhat like those of the Coast live oak, which grows in the same region. Hybrid willows are common. The tanbark oak partakes of characteristics of both oak and chestnut, yet it is neither an oak nor a chestnut in typical form. 

Certain birds possess a combination of features of two families, as, for example, the Townsend solitaire, which is sometimes called the “fly catcher thrush,” inasmuch as it shows characteristics of both flycatchers and thrushes. The hyena has several features of both dogs and cats, as can be readily seen by anyone who studies its appearance. The wildebeest of Africa has both horse and cattle characteristics.

The degree to which the original plan of creation was corrupted by Satan is revealed by a study of certain verses in Genesis. In the story of the Flood are the significant words: “God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” Genesis 6:12. An analysis of this statement reveals two important facts-first, that all flesh was involved in the general corruption, and second, that all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

It is commonly taught by those who accept the Biblical record of the Flood that the destruction of the earth came only as a means of clearing it of wicked men. This is a restricted concept, and fails to recognize the full significance of the event. The Scripture clearly states that all flesh was included. Genesis 6:17; 7:21. The testimony of the Scripture, according to its own definitions, is that both human and animal life was involved. Wilhelm Cesenius, noted for his Hebrew scholarship, supports this view in his comments on these verses.

As to the statement, “had corrupted his way,” it is obvious that whatever is meant, the condition must have been serious to call down the dire vengeance of God. A synonym for corrupted is adulterated, which means mixed with other kinds than what is supposed to be present. Other definitions are tainted, which has the same implication; contaminated, or invaded by foreign substance; polluted, or impure from a mixture with matter from without; also debased, depraved, and defiled. 

In man, since he is a moral creature, corruption could come in a moral way by a departure from the principles of right. In other creatures no such spiritual corruption could be possible. Some other means of corruption must be sought in order to satisfy the full meaning of the text. To say that nature was corrupted simply because of man’s sin is not sufficient. 

The presence of degeneration in the form of thorns and thistles, which are generally considered the curse laid on the earth as a result of man’s departure from the right, would not be a cause for destruction of the earth by a flood. Furthermore, the conditions produced by the Flood have favored the development of such degenerative changes a thousand fold as compared to what we find to have been the case previously. Something else must have been involved.

Gesenius tells us that the expression “his way” refers to the manner of life, the plan, scheme, or habitual mode of life. This plainly indicates that living creatures so changed or perverted their modes of action or conduct as to have departed from the original plan of God, until all were corrupt, or confused, contaminated, defiled, debased, and perverted. In no other way could animals, having no moral responsibility, have fulfilled the statements of the Author of Genesis.


It is likely that the carnivorous habit arose as a change in habits of certain animals. The members of the order Carnivora (flesh eaters) were able to take to the predatory habit because the nature of their teeth and claws enabled them to do so. With the adoption of such a mode of life their dispositions have undoubtedly changed. The fierceness of the lion and tiger has probably been developed during the years as generation after generation has been obliged to obtain food by preying upon other animals. This is not a case of inheritance of acquired characters, but rather of the cumulative effect of the stimulation of certain glands which throw their secretion into the blood stream. It is known that such effects as this may increase from generation to generation.

One need not conclude that the fangs and claws of the great cats or the hooked beaks and sharp talons of the hawks were necessarily made for seizing and feeding on flesh. There might well have been some kinds of foods in the original creation that were adapted to their needs. On the other hand there are some creatures about which it would be well for us not to be too sure. 

For example, how a bat or a swallow could live on anything except flying insects is hard to imagine. Either we must allow for a great degree of change in their structure or habits, or else believe that God allowed them insect food. Some of these problems we cannot solve, and we might as well be satisfied to leave them unsolved.

When one sees the skeletons of prehistoric animals, he is forced to believe that there existed before the Flood a number of kinds that arose from a distortion of the originally created types. There were huge animals whose ill-shaped proportions violated all laws of symmetry and beauty. Of some of these it is hard to believe that God pronounced them “very good.” One has only to read a book on fossil amphibians, reptiles, and mammals to find many such examples. “Nature,” or satanic power working through nature, appears to have performed many experiments in animal breeding.


Some most remarkable adjustments between animals have produced parasites. One of the best examples of parasitic adaptation is seen in the common tapeworm. There are several kinds, with similar life histories. As an example let us study the pork tapeworm. This parasite has lost nearly all its organs except its reproductive and excretory systems. Attaching itself to the intestine walls by hooks and suckers on the “head,” it grows a series of segments, sometimes several feet in length. Its food is absorbed from the contents of the intestine in which it lies.

As the segments at the end of the tapeworm mature, they break off and pass out of the body. They then disintegrate, liberating the eggs contained within. These eggs are picked up by the pig, and when the shells are digested by the intestinal juices, hooked larvae are liberated. These larvae burrow into the blood and lymph vessels and are carried to the muscles, where they become enclosed in cysts. In this stage they are known as bladder worms.

When the pork is eaten, the bladder worms are released, attach themselves to the intestinal wall, and begin to grow into other mature tapeworms.

The life cycle of the hookworm is somewhat similar. Hatching in the soil, the larvae climb to the top of projecting particles of earth, where they remain with their forward ends waving until they come into contact with the bare skin of a human being. Then they burrow into the skin and travel through the blood stream to the lungs, whence they migrate into the air passages and to the throat. They are swallowed, and pass to the intestine, where they attach themselves to the walls and live on blood drawn from the intestine walls. When mature, they lay their eggs, which pass out and hatch in the ground, thus starting the cycle over again. This is only one case of complicated relationships that have been set up. Plainly these were not intended in the beginning.

Scores of other complicated parasite life cycles might be given, but they all illustrate the same principle of degeneracy. Many examples of perverted instincts may be observed in nature. The wild animal that kills for pleasure is certainly not following any law of nature implanted by the Creator. On all sides we witness death and destruction as the result of lawful instincts that have been turned into wrong channels.


Our concept of a “perfect” world in which no creature ever killed another for food is a beautiful idea, but it must be admitted that there are some problems which cannot be solved on this basis. The bats are insect-eating animals. Their mode of food taking, the nature of their teeth, and all their habits fit them for this way of life.

Woodpeckers are fitted as a group for drilling in trees and digging out the grubs. While a few of them eat some acorns, few of them seem to be able to live on anything but insect life.

The same is true of a large number of our insect-eating birds, such as warblers, vireos, etc. Their beaks are not adapted to eating seeds. Possibly they might eat fruit, if the right kinds were provided, but at present they are perfectly adapted to an insect diet.

A great number of sea creatures can live on nothing but the floating life-plant and animal mixed which comes to them in the water. The whalebone whale, for example, strains the floating material from the sea water.

Even among the plants there are some that capture animals for food. The pitcher plants are ingeniously constructed so as to lure and entrap unwary insects, which are digested in the fluid at the bottom of the hollow leaves. In this manner the plant is furnished with nitrogenous food. The sundew and Venus’s-flytrap catch flies on the surface of the leaves, which fold up and hold them until they are digested. It is hard to understand how these plants came to possess these habits unless they were originally built for this kind of life.

After all, the distinction between lower forms of animal life and plants is difficult to make. Even in such complicated forms as the insects, what is a grasshopper but a kind of animated bit of grass, as it were? Simply because God created it with a digestive and nervous system, is there any good reason for assuming that it was supposed to be eternal?

Some of these problems we may not be able to settle to our satisfaction, but it is wise to be cautious about taking any dogmatic position with respect to them. We do not fully understand God’s original plan and would do well to be conservative in forming positive opinions on such problems as we have mentioned.