well, honestly, i dont think its possible for science to prove such a thing. the best it can do is make assumptions of the past based on what it observes of the present, but there's no certainty in that.
even if the fossil record has lots of dead animals before dead men, that doesnt contradict the Biblical account. the first thing to die were those animals that God took skins from to clothe Adam and Eve, and then Adam lived another 930 years. Who knows how many animals died before you had a significant amount of humans die to the point where we would expect to find human fossils. Scriptures show us that animals died before man died, but it doesn't mean they died before man sinned.
however, purely hypothetically speaking, if it were undeniably proved that death existed before Adam and Eve sinned then I would have to give up Orthodoxy. But I experientially know Orthodoxy is true so I also know that death cannot and will not be empirically proven to have existed before man's sin.
Just an FYI even if death was some how conclusively proved to be true before the Fall there would be no reason for you to give up Orthodoxy. You would just have to interpret the events in Genesis differently or see things in a different theological framework.
But then again it comes down to who's interpretation is correct? Thank God we have the Church right?
Anyway back to the matter at hand. I am with you that science cannot prove it, in fact I don't believe it is really in science's nature to really turn back to the past so far before it becomes into a realm of hypothesis. The problem I have with many modern scientists comes down to conflating both assumptions and truth into one. Basically because it may sound logically reasonable for evolution to occur therfore it must be true. That really doesn't follow and it for sure doesn't fall into the lap of science. Archaelogy? Maybe. But even then we have quite numerous missing links and alot of question begging.
I'm pretty confident just saying God put forth the world as He did it. How that process occured does not one bit affect any part of my own faith. Evolution or Creationism, it doesn't matter. I will say it is raither naivete to take evolution merely on face value. In fact I think it opens more of a can of worms then answers the question. Once you confirm that evolution is true, then what value is that of man? This question is posed with a non-religious background, so therefore we are only an intelligent ape. Morally speaking, are we even obligated at that point to treat one another with compassion, kindness, etc if they are not made in the image of God?
Once you see how evolution unravels itself, we see how much more important it is that man must be made in the image of God. But this discussion can turn very hubristically, so I'm going to opt out of it.
I think you are with my on this one jckstrw72. And again if you are fighting a battle against those that take a social dawinism stance, then much power to you. But that's more of a political and sociological issue at that point.
Now one area in your post that I am confused about is you say animals died before man did but before man sinned. Are you saying here that there were all the species and with man alive, then once man sinned caused the rest of the animal kingdom to die? It seems muddled how you worded that. Maybe you can expand on that a bit for me.