Question: How did lions become carnivores?
This is a great question from one of our Friendship kids!
What makes it such a great question is that it reveals an understanding that man and animals were not always carnivorous (Gen. 1:29-30). If they were, then death would have been part of the original creation, as evolutionary science teaches, not the later result of man’s sin (Rom. 6:23). And if evolutionary science were correct on that point, then Jesus’ death on the cross would be meaningless. As Paul writes in Romans, “so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:12).
So, what does the Bible have to say about how (and when) lions and other animals became carnivores?
First, we know that lions were strictly plant-eating animals when God first created them. Genesis 1:30 says, “And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food. And it was so.” This was true of the first human beings as well. Verse 29 reads, “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
Secondly, we know that man was given permission by God to eat meat following the Great Flood: “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything” (Gen. 9:3). We also know that animals were already eating meat by that time (Gen. 9:5-6).
It seems clear then that lions and other carnivorous animals began eating meat sometime between Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden and the worldwide Flood. Does that mean that a physical change took place in lions—the development of fangs and talons, for example—that made them capable of killing and eating other animals? It’s certainly possible, even as God caused thorns and thistles to grow where once only beautiful, healthful vegetation had grown (Gen. 3:18).