Is there an “Original Sin”?
Muslims often say, “You Christians invented the term “Original Sin”; the Bible doesn’t teach about it.” They might use this verse from Deuteronomy 24:
16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children; neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Some Muslims will blame Paul for creating this so-called “false” doctrine. Let’s examine this claim. I usually read to Muslims these verses from the Old Testament, deliberately abstaining from New Testament writings:
Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Jer 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Job 25:4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean [that is] born of a woman?
Gen 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart [is] evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
After mentioning these verses, I focus on Genesis chapter 1 to 3.
Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Gen 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Gen 2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
Gen 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Please take note that God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden “to dress it and keep it”. God also mentioned that Man will have dominion over the entire earth. Let us read the story of Adam’s fall:
Gen 3:16-19 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
God has changed the situation. It is absolutely clear that the earth, as we know now, has changed very much since the Sin of Adam:
- The earth or ground became cursed because of it.
- Women have pain in childbirth.
- Men oppress women.
- People will work hard for very little compensation or reward.
- People became mortal.
Now, let us read what the Qur’an says about the sin of Adam:
Qur’an, Sura 7
- And (We said): O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the garden; so eat from where you desire, but do not go near this tree, for then you will be of the unjust.
20. But the Shaitan made an evil suggestion to them that he might make manifest to them what had been hidden from them of their evil inclinations, and he said: Your Lord has not forbidden you this tree except that you may not both become two angels or that you may (not) become of the immortals.
21. And he swore to them both: Most surely I am a sincere adviser to you.
Qur’an, Sura 2
- And We said: O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the garden and eat from it a plenteous (food) wherever you wish and do not approach this tree, for then you will be of the unjust.
36. But the Shaitan made them both fall from it, and caused them to depart from that (state) in which they were; and We said: Get forth, some of you being the enemies of others, and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time.
37. Then Adam received (some) words from his Lord, so He turned to him mercifully; surely He is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.
38. We said: Go forth from this (state) all; so surely there will come to you a guidance from Me, then whoever follows My guidance, no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.
As we see, the story has a few little twists in it. According to the Qur’an:
- The forbidden fruit belongs to the “Tree of Eternity”.
- Satan spoke directly to Adam (not Eve).
- Satan tempted Adam by saying: “Your Lord has not forbidden you this tree except that you may not both become two angels or that you may (not) become of the immortals.”
- Adam and Eve actually asked for forgiveness and admitted their sin.
There is no consequence for this “sin”, except for living a limited time on earth, but Muslims argue that even that was planned before Adam made this so-called “mistake”.
We can demonstrate that the biblical story is true just by pointing out that everything that God told Adam and Eve is real today. When He finished creation, God said that it “was good” (Gen. 1:4a; 1:10b; 1:12b; 1:18b; 1:21b; 1:25b), and also, “very good” (Gen. 1:31a). God was pleased with the work He had done. Therefore, the earth and the universe were created perfect. Only after the sin / fall of Adam everything changed to bad. Death came as a result of Adam’s sin. Death and suffering of humans and animals before sin are contrary to the Biblical framework above, as are suffering (or “groaning in travail” (Rom. 8:20–22)).
If we accept the quranic point of view, we will think that God created people as bad then as we are now, and the entire animal kingdom was in constant “warfare” among them. How could this creation have been called “good” and “very good”? Therefore, the Bible gives us the absolute reason to believe that we all born sinners, but the Qur’an states that all are born sinless. According to the Qur’an, man was created mortal with the ability to sin:
Qur’an, Sura 15
- And when your Lord said to the angels: Surely I am going to create a mortal of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.
Qur’an, Sura 2
And when your Lord said to the angels, I am going to place in the earth a khalif, they said: What! wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness? He said: Surely I know what you do not know.
The Qur’an itself, and Muslims who follow it, fail to recognize the fact that people were created in the image and likeness of God, and God considered that to be “good” and also “very good”. Therefore by committing sin, we are mocking our Creator. The behaviour of animals doesn’t reflect negatively towards God, but our behaviour does, because we choose to commit this behaviour.
Also, God did not consult with the angels in the creation process. When He spoke the words, “Let US make man in OUR image,” (Gen. 1:26a), He was addressing the other parts of His divine nature, that is, the Holy Spirit and the pre-incarnate Jesus. We know that the Holy Spirit was there during the creation process, because we read about Him in Genesis 1: 2b:
2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Notice that God did not punish the earth and its inhabitants when Lucifer sinned and turned to his own way, taking a legion of angels with him from heaven.
(The fall of Satan) Luke 10:18
18And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
It was only after Adam and Eve sinned against Holy God that the judgment and curse came upon this planet. Because Adam and Eve were created in His image and His likeness (not any other creature, including angels), God had to deal with their disobedience. That was why the punishment was so severe and the consequences were so devastating. For Adam and Eve to wilfully commit sin against a most Holy God, in spite of having all paradise for their enjoyment, was an insolence that God could not abide. His holy nature has decreed that He is a holy God, and disobedience to Him is unacceptable without consequences.
Sometimes Muslim say, “Let us find a common ground, and build bridges. Let’s find a common Jesus.” I say, “If we totally disagree about Adam, how is it possible to agree about Jesus?” It is absolutely impossible!
Only because of the story in the Qur’an, Muslims will try to accuse the New Testament of “inventing” the concept of “Original Sin”. After we prove it otherwise, Muslims will immediately switch to another accusation, “Your Bible’s corruption starts from Genesis”. Here at least, we can clear Paul’s name from this accusation…. :0)