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Originally published in Creation 3, no 1 (February 1980): 27.
Letters to the editor.
In the October issue we were challenged to explain why the camel is well-adapted to the desert when there were no deserts at the time of creation. This is only one of many problems of adaptation. If the animals were all herbivorous originally (Genesis 1:29, 30), where did predators get their sharp canine and carnassial teeth, claws, ability to leap from heights, etc.? When did the bombardier beetle, skunk, octopus, porcupine, etc. acquire their defense mechanisms? How did present-day parasites subsist before the Fall?
The Bible does not give us a definite answer. At the time of the Fall all nature was affected by man’s sin (Genesis 3:17-18, etc.). One possible answer is that God altered all organisms at or after the Fall, possibly by permitting or using mutations. This may be the best explanation we can give for parasites, poison fangs, disease-causing organisms and the like.
Another possibility is pre-adaptation. No biologist denies that organisms are adapted to their environment. Pre-adaptation is the idea that some organisms possess special characteristics not needed in their present environment, but which may be of selective advantage if the environment changes.
As creation was complete and perfect and no further creative acts are mentioned, it seems reasonable to assume that the original “kinds” possessed the genetic information for predation, defense, etc. Possibly some of the mechanisms possessed a dual purpose, e.g. sharp claws and teeth could be useful for fruit with a tough rind, feet which don’t sink into sand wouldn’t sink into a bog, glands might secrete more than one substance. Alternatively some mechanisms may have been latent against future need. Certainly it is not inconsistent with other Scripture to suggest that God made provision for future needs before the “foundation of the world.”