How did Plants Survive the Biblical Flood

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Designed to Eat Plants, then Cursed to be Unable  

If all animals were created herbivores, why do many now eat meat?


In Genesis 1:29, it is clear that plants were the given food for all animals at the beginning of the creation, and it is only following the flood that we were instructed to eat animals. God originally designed us to eat plants, however because of Adam's sin, God cursed the creation, and this principally affected plants as a ready food source. The Bible states that the curse caused the plants to change and bare thorns, and there began an immediate requirement for humans to farm crops to obtain enough food to survive.

The world was designed with producers (plants) and consumers (animals). We were designed to eat plants, and the world is completely covered with such organisms, but people will starve without farmed crops. The nature of the curse upon Adam lies within the explanation of this dilemma. We use sugar as the fuel source that is used to make energy, and plants were designed to make this sugar in massive quantities. However, we can digest none of this energy, but instead it passes through us as dietary fiber. Given the description of the curse, it is theoretically possible all organisms were originally able to digest plant fiber, and we cursed to be unable.

Relevant Scriptures

God Giving Plants for Food - Genesis 1:29-30 And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so.

The Creation Cursed - Adam Must Farm Plants - Genesis 3:17-19 And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Genesis 3:23 - therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.

Evolution of the Carnivore

It is now well recognized that all carnivores are actually omnivores by nature. Bears for example eat everything, but it was probably their sharp teeth more than anything that caused them to be originally labeled as a carnivore. Evolution is the process of specializing to a particular habitat or niche through a history of genetic recombination and natural selection. This process modifies the characteristics common to the organism in a manner which supplies regional specificities. The panda bear is an obligate herbivore. On the other hand, the polar bears are exclusively carnivore, but the bear was created as a vegetarian. All modern carnivores were originally herbivores that have adapted to predatory behaviors in some instances.


Plants use carbon dioxide and energy from the sun to make carbohydrates or sugar. Virtually all of the sugar made by the plant is polymerized into a long chain called cellulose or what we call "fiber". The plant uses cellulose primarily to make the cell wall which provides the plant's structural support. We alternatively metabolize carbohydrates to release the energy stored in the chemical bonds, and use it for moving muscle, or enzymatic reactions like making protein. There are many forms of sugar (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc., but all of them are converted into glucose before they are used to make most of our ATP energy. Cellulose is simply a long chain of pure glucose, and yet we can not metabolize this most abundant form of energy.

Cellulose Fiber

We can not digest cellulose because we lack the necessary genes, and can not make the enzymes; cellulase, lignase, etc. Only the microbial decomposers (bacteria, fungi) possess these genes . From an evolution standpoint the absence of these genes in higher organisms is a mystery if animals truly evolved from microbes since they all have the ability to digest cellulose. The survival advantage of these genes is so great that natural out-selection is inconceivable. If we evolved from microbes, we should also have these same genes.

Cellulose is without a doubt the single most abundant energy source on earth, but no consumer can not digest it. Instead the energy we get from plants comes almost exclusively from reproductive growths where starch and simple sugars are stored. Roots are also frequently rich in starch. However, it is because of our inability to digest cellulose that we must farm and produce massive quantities of plants, and then only harvest a very minor portion for consumption. Cellulose is virtually everywhere we look. It surrounds every plant cell, and yet we can make no use of it.

It is inexplicable that we and the animals are unable to utilize the massive quantity of energy which is trapped in cellulose being that we were created to eat plants and many still diet exclusively on vegetation. Ruminants (cow, sheep, etc.) possess a cooperative system which utilizes the enzymatic capability of bacteria to aid in the digestion of cellulose, otherwise no herbivore is able to digest this most abundant polysaccharide on earth. If we could digest cellulose, it would release more energy-producing metabolites than any other source available to us, and yet it is biochemically locked. From an intelligent design perspective, we should have the ability to digest cellulose. If we did, not one organism on earth would ever have starved, instead mass amounts of biochemical energy rot on the ground each year.


Although fruit is obviously a perfectly designed food, it is also seasonal, and was probably created with simple sugars only to be a candy that would promote seed transport. It is however logical to assume we would have been created with the ability to digest cellulose as our primary staple in the beginning. Theoretically, the curse might have involved the removal of these necessary genes from humans and all animal forcing us to labor endlessly to obtain enough usable carbohydrate, and causing many to evolve to carnivorous diets to survive.

If we could digest cellulose we would not need to farm to survive. We would be able to live for many days off the energy stored in a small bowl of any part of a plant (grasses, trees, etc.) Instead almost none of the glucose in basic roughage is metabolized, but instead it passes through as undigested fiber. This is a true waste of the stored energy in these foods, and a puzzle from the ID perspective unless this inability is related to a curse subsequent to our creation.

More Related Passages

Given Animals as Food After the Flood - Genesis 9:2-3 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

by Chris W. Ashcraft

Creation Plant Biology

Secular Information

  • Do plants act like computers Leaves appear to regulate their 'breathing' by conducting simple calculations. by Philip Ball. Nature. Jan 21 2004