a Sinner: A Critical Investigation of the Origin of Original Sin
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and
death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
doctrine of original sin is an important part of Christian theology. In fact, the notion of Jesus’ redemptive
death on the cross hinges on the belief that all people are born into sin and
thus in need of salvation through the voluntary death of a sinless man. According to the doctrine, when Adam (peace
be upon him) disobeyed God by eating from the “Tree
of Knowledge”, he brought sin into the world so that the whole human
race was tainted by it and thus just as guilty as Adam was and deserving of
punishment, which was death. But what is the truth of the matter? Is “original sin” a reality or an invention
of the church? Is this concept found in
the New Testament as well as the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), as Christians
maintain? Does the nature of man, from
his humble beginnings as an infant through his life as an adult, demonstrate
proof of his tainted origin? We will
attempt to answer these and other questions in this article. First, we will provide an explanation of the
theology of original sin as well as the common arguments given by Christians in
defense of this concept. Second, we will
investigate the Bible, both the Tanakh and the New Testament, to see if this
concept can be found within either of these two texts, and supplement this
investigation with the views of some of the Ante-Nicene church fathers. Third, we will examine some sociological and
psychological evidence from scientific studies to test whether the doctrine of
original sin can be demonstrated in human nature. Finally, we will discuss the Islamic view on
sin. With all the evidence in hand, the
reader will hopefully see that the Bible provides contradictory views on the
concept of sin, that Biblical evidence in favor of original sin is lacking and
that a growing body of scientific evidence actually demonstrates that this
doctrine is categorically false. In
other words, we will see that the concept was not taught by the prophets,
including Jesus (peace be upon him), but was the invention of the church.
As stated above, “original sin” refers to Adam’s
disobedience of God and his subsequent fall as described in the book of Genesis
in the Tanakh. But according to Christian theology, Adam’s
act of disobedience allowed “sin” and “death” to enter into the world, so that
every human is born with sin and deserving of death.
Original sin is an important doctrine in most Christian
sects. The “Catechism of the Catholic
Church” states that:
“[a]ll men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms:
"By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made
sinners": "sin came into the world through one man and death through
sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned." The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin
and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's
trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness
leads to acquittal and life for all men."”
Similarly, the “Westminster Confession of Faith” states
“[t]hey [Adam and Eve] being the root of all mankind, the guilt
of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature,
conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.”
understandable why Christians so vehemently defend this concept and have
included it in their creeds, even though as we will see, the evidence for it is
severely lacking. There are indeed some
passages in the New Testament which can be interpreted as teaching the theology
of original sin, though the term itself is never used. This doctrine is best demonstrated in the
teachings of Paul of Tarsus, especially Romans 5:12, which states:
“[t]herefore, just as sin came into the world through one man,
and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
In addition to the epistle to the Romans, the first epistle
to the Corinthians also discussed the “original sin” of Adam:
“[f]or since death came through a man, the resurrection of the
dead comes also through a man. For as in
Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
Thus, according to Paul, because of the sin of Adam, a
savior was needed. As one Catholic
source puts it:
“…without original sin, there would be no need for a Savior.”
Indeed, the aforementioned “Catechism of the Catholic
Church” recognizes the danger of denying original sin with regards to the
Christian faith. It states that:
“[t]he Church, which has the mind of Christ, knows very well
that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining
the mystery of Christ.”
Paul clarified this point by stating that if Jesus (peace be
upon him) had not been raised from the dead, then the faith of Christians would
fall apart and they would still be in their sins:
“[a]nd if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you
are still in your sins.”
So, we can see why it is so important for Christians to
demonstrate the “reality” of original sin.
The belief in Jesus’ resurrection hinges on the belief that all humans
are sinful and in need of the redemptive death and resurrection of a sinless
savior. If original sin is proven false,
then so is the Christian faith.
argue that the concept of original sin is found not only in the New Testament
but in the Tanakh as well. One verse
that is most commonly used is Psalm 51:5, which states:
“[s]urely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother
Another verse that apologists typically point to is Job
14:4, which states:
“[w]ho can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!”
According to the “Catholic News Agency” (CNA), both of these
“…imply that our sinfulness is inherited from our parents, even
though there is no mention of Adam's sin.”
Christians also point to
alleged evidence outside of the Bible in defense of original sin. For example, the CNA states:
“[n]ow the doctrine of original sin cannot be proven by natural
reason, but it is easily witnessed by its symptoms: the need for police, the
collapse of great civilizations, suicide, suffering and so on. Another symptom
is war. People have always and will always kill each other in mass quantity.”
Thus, in the view of some Christians, the “symptoms” of
original sin manifested in such things as crime, violence, lawlessness etc.,
serve as evidence of the original sin of humanity.
concept is even extended to infants and children. Proponents of original sin argue that since
even infants and children die (and since “death” came into the world through
Adam’s sin) then infants and children are also sinners. One Christian source puts it rather bluntly
“…death only comes upon those who have sinned. Since infants
die, they therefore must be sinners.”
Interestingly, some Christians
believe that only the “elect infants” that
die are actually saved, despite being tainted by original sin. However, those that are “not elected” are doomed and cannot be saved! The “Westminster Confession of Faith” states
this clearly (emphasis ours):
“[e]lect infants, dying in infancy, are
regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and
where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are
incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
Others, not elected, although
they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations
of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot
some Christians even believe that the sin of Adam affected animals as well. They argue this solely on the basis of
Biblical evidence. For example, they appeal to Genesis 1:31,
which describes God’s Creation as being “very good”. Proponents of original sin argue that God’s
creation was “very good” by “design”, which
means that it was “perfect”. As one
proponent puts it:
“[t]here was no imperfection in God's original creation.
Imperfection eventually entered the universe as a result of humanity's sin, not
God's design. Thus, the universe as it exists today is not the same as God
created it. Sin has brought into it abnormality and imperfection.”
proponents also claim, on the basis of scripture, that humans and animals were
vegetarians before Adam’s fall. Thus,
carnivorous animals were not in fact carnivores originally. They only became carnivores after Adam sinned
and brought death into the world.
the Biblical Evidence
discussed the theology of original sin, as well as the alleged Biblical “evidence”
for it, let us now examine the claims of the apologists. As previously stated, there are certain
Biblical verses which support the Christian position, specifically from the
letters of Paul. But what evidence is
found in the rest of the New Testament?
What evidence is found in the Tanakh?
Finally, what were the views of the early church fathers?
The Tanakh -
Let us begin
by examining Psalm 51:5, which is usually presented as evidence by Christian
apologists for original sin. In the
verse, the psalmist, identified as David (peace be upon him), states that he
was sinful from conception. For
Christians, this is evidence that all humans are sinful by nature. However, closer inspection of both the
context of Psalm 51 as well as other verses from the Hebrew Bible, debunk this
claim. First, the immediate context of
the psalm concerns a specific sin of David, not sin in general. In the New International Version, the
introduction to the psalm states (emphasis ours):
“[a] psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David
had committed adultery with Bathsheba.”
So the psalm had to do with David’s remorse for his alleged
adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, and not his sinful “nature” in general.
Second, there have been varying
interpretations of Psalm 51:5 among Jews and none affirm the belief that all
human beings are born sinful. The
medieval Jewish commentator Rashi summarized some of these interpretations as
“[n]ow how could I not sin when the main part of my creation was
through coitus, the source of many iniquities? Another explanation: The main
part of my creation is from a male and a female, both of whom are full of
iniquity. There are many midrashim to this verse, but they do not fit the
context of the psalm.”
Thus, one interpretation is
that since humans are created through the act of sexual intercourse, which is
itself the source of many sinful acts (such as adultery), then it is not
surprising that David would have sinned as well. Another explanation is that since children
are born from a male parent and a female parent, both of whom are sinful as
adults, then the children will be sinful as well. Neither of these explanations correlates with
a belief in original sin.
Third, other verses in Psalm 51 refer to the pleas of
David to God. In these pleas, David
seeks God’s forgiveness. However, if
original sin was a reality, then what hope was there for forgiveness? Yet it is clear from the psalm that there was
indeed hope that God would forgive David.
In verse 12, David begs God to:
“[r]estore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a
willing spirit, to sustain me.”
Proponents of original sin
must consider how salvation could have been “restored” to David, if it had not
yet been given in the first place since, according to Paul, salvation could
only be received through Jesus (peace be upon him). In his epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul
“[f]or God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive
salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Finally, in verse 7 of the psalm, David asked God to
“cleanse” him with “hyssop”:
“[c]leanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I
will be whiter than snow.”
This is a reference to the
purification ritual outlined in Numbers 9. According to the psalm, hyssop would cleanse David
of his sin! Thus, the internal evidence
from Psalm 51 negates the decontextualized interpretation of verse 5 that
Christians usually posit.
In addition, in their rush to link Psalm 51:5 with the
concept of original sin, Christians also fail to take into account other
passages from the Bible and how they describe David. Once such passage is 2 Samuel 22:24, in which
“I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from
sin. The Lord has rewarded me according
to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight.”
Furthermore, there is abundant evidence elsewhere in the
Tanakh which refutes the Christian defense of original sin. First and foremost, the idea that children
are born guilty because of the sins of their parents is contradicted by clear
statements in the Tanakh. For
Ezekiel 18:20 states:
“[t]he one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not
share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the
child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the
wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”
Second, some Biblical verses clearly regard childhood as
the time when evil “inclinations” first start.
One example is Genesis 8:21, which states that:
“…every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.”
Thus, from a Biblical standpoint,
human beings cannot be regarded as “sinful” from birth, since they are not even
capable of having evil inclinations until childhood at the earliest.
Given the lack of evidence for original sin in the
Tanakh, it is no surprise that the concept is completely foreign to
Judaism. No Jewish source, whether
ancient or modern, acknowledges it. As
one modern Jewish scholar puts it:
“[t]he term “original sin” is unknown to the Jewish Scriptures,
and the Church’s teachings on this doctrine are antithetical to the core
principles of the Torah and its prophets.”
The New Testament -
above, the best Biblical evidence for original sin comes from the epistles of Paul. But while Christians may be shocked to hear
it, this is where the evidence ends! Like
the Tanakh, most of the New Testament books contain very little evidence, if
any at all, to support the belief in original sin.
let us remember that, according to Paul, no one is righteous among human
beings, even though he was basing this view on a misquote of Psalm 14 (see note
#31). Ironically, Paul’s companion Luke,
who Christians claim was the author of the gospel that bears his name, seemed
to disagree! In the opening chapter of
the gospel, Luke mentioned the birth of John the Baptist (peace be upon
him). His parents, Zechariah (peace be
upon him) and Elizabeth, had prayed for a child. But what is of relevance to the topic of this
article is how Luke described both Zechariah and Elizabeth:
“[b]oth of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing
all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.”
This description directly contradicts the concept of
original sin. The reader should recall
the definition of original sin, which is:
“…that sin and its guilt that we all possess in God’s eyes as a
direct result of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden.”
We can see that Luke 1:6 completely refutes this view! Zechariah and Elizabeth were both “righteous in the sight of God”, whereas
Christians maintain that all human beings are sinful and guilty “in God’s eyes”.
They cannot have it both ways.
even more interesting is the description of John the Baptist (peace be upon
him) himself. Recall that Christians
maintain, based on their misreading of Psalm 51:5, that human beings are sinners
even in the womb and are born as sinners.
It stands to reason that this would be true of John the Baptist (peace
be upon him) as well. However, according
to Luke, the infant John would be:
“…great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other
fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is
Like his parents, John was also described as a righteous man
“in the sight of the Lord”. Additionally, John would be filled with the “Holy Spirit”, even though all humans were
supposed to be “sinful from the time” of
conception! Why would John have been any
different? Given the evidence in the
Gospel of Luke, it does not appear that Paul’s companion had the same views on
original sin as the apostle did!
But this is
not the only place where Luke contradicts Paul.
In chapter 10 of the gospel that bears his name, Luke described the “Parable of the Good Samaritan” which stated very
plainly how a person could attain salvation (i.e. “inherit
“[o]n one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.
“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied.
“How do you read it?” He answered,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as
yourself.’” “You have answered
correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.””
This could not be any clearer. Christians maintain that when Adam and Eve
ate from the “Tree of Knowledge”, not only
did sin enter the world but death as well.
In Paul’s view, the solution to this problem was the redeeming death of
Jesus (peace be upon him). Yet according
to Luke, Jesus told the “expert in the law”
that the way to “inherit eternal life” was
to love God (i.e. to follow His commandments).
evidence from the gospels also refutes the theology of original sin. The reader should recall that proponents of
original sin claim that even infants and children are “sinners”. They base this on the view that even infants
and children die. Thus, they believe via
their flawed logic that infants and children must also be “sinners”. However, this view completely contradicts the
gospels. Luke 18 states that Jesus
(peace be upon him) blessed babies and children and said that the “kingdom of God” belongs to them:
“[p]eople were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place
his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and
said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the
kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a
little child will never enter it.””
Upon comparison of the bleak view of original sin proponents
(based on the teachings of Paul) and the view of Jesus (peace be upon him) in
the gospels, we can see that the two views are polar opposites. Whereas original sin proponents regard even
children as “sinners” deserving of “death”, Jesus (peace be upon him) blessed
them and said that the “kingdom of God”
belonged to them!
The Ante-Nicene Fathers -
writings of the Ante-Nicene fathers are frequently appealed to by Christian
apologists due to their assumed authority and chronological proximity to the
disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him). In this section, we will examine the writings
of some of these “fathers” to see if they believed in or were familiar with the
theology of original sin and its implications for human salvation.
previously mentioned, it was the 4th-century church father Augustine
who was largely responsible for developing the concept of original sin, or what
he called “peccatum originale”. But what were the views of those church
leaders who came before him (the Ante-Nicene fathers)? Once again, Christians may be shocked to learn
that most were not at all familiar with the idea that all humans are born with
the sin and guilt of Adam (peace be upon him)!
us examine the views of Justin Martyr, the 2nd-century Christian
apologist most well-known for his “Dialogue with
Trypho” and “Apology”. According to Michael M. Christensen of Denver
Justin Martyr did believe that human beings had “evil
inclinations” by nature, but that these inclinations were not caused by
Adam’s “fall” but rather from following in his example and committing their own
sins. In addition, these “evil inclinations” could be “exacerbated by evil demons”.
early church leader, Theophilus of Antioch, believed that humans could attain
immortality by striving for “perfection” and
that this could be done “by obeying God’s
commandments”. He also believed that when Adam and Eve
disobeyed God, they were punished by being exiled from heaven and forced to
dwell on earth, but nowhere did he indicate that all humans were tainted by the
sins of the original human pair.
church leader who clearly did not believe in original sin was Irenaeus, best
known for his apologetic work “Against Heresies”. In his writings, Irenaeus claimed that Adam
and Eve did bring death into the world, thereby causing suffering and pain, but
he did not believe that Adam’s sin tainted the rest of humanity. As Christensen explains:
“…Irenaeus does not attribute any inherited corruption or
concupiscence of nature to Adam. Adam and Eve’s nature was not cursed, but what
was cursed was the ground and the serpent.”
leader that agreed with Irenaeus was Clement of Alexandria, since like
Irenaeus, Clement believed that humanity did not inherit any sinful nature from
Adam. He also agreed with Irenaeus and
others (like Justin Martyr) that while humanity was “imperfect”, it could still
strive for “perfection”. In fact,
contrary to the views of Paul, Clement believed that:
“[i]t is the nature of the human soul to move itself, especially
toward virtue. Those who sin choose evil over good; they acquire a sinful
nature by sinning.”
However, Clement strayed from
other church leaders in claiming that death did not result from the Fall of
Adam and Eve. In summarizing Clement’s
views, Christensen states that:
“Clement has put the spiritual destiny of humanity in their own
hands. The Fall has produced no ill-effects and human choice is inherently able
to choose either good or evil. His view appears very similar to Pelagius’ one
church leaders discussed so far, there were others who seemed to believe that
humans did inherit a sinful nature, but not necessarily in the way most
contemporary Christians would accept.
One such leader was Origen, whose views can be summarized as follows:
“[h]umans are prone to sin by nature and this is because their
souls are guilty of previous sins (in a previous existence), not because of any
corporate sinfulness inherited from the first man, Adam.”
earliest church father to expound on the inherent sinfulness of humanity was
Tertullian. In his view, humanity’s
nature was inherited from Adam and was “unclean”
by nature. Also, the inheritance of this
sinful nature was due to a literal transmission of both the body and the soul
from parents to their children. However, we can see that most of the early
church fathers did not believe in the theology of original sin. Most did believe that Adam’s sin brought
death into the world but they also believed that the nature of mankind was not
tainted by that sin and that each person was capable of being good. Christensen summarizes the diverse opinions
as follows (emphasis ours):
“The evidence suggests there was not a consensus [on original sin], but that there were trends related to time and geography. Pelagius and Augustine were at opposite poles
of thought with many theologians closer to Pelagius than Augustine in their
conclusions about the nature and effects of humanity’s first sins.”
and Original Sin
mentioned, in addition to alleged Biblical evidence, Christians also often point
to alleged evidence in human society in defense of the doctrine of original sin. The Biblical evidence, as we have already
seen, is lacking and contradictory, so what about the “extra-biblical”
evidence? Can an investigation of
sociological and psychological evidence prove that all humans are tainted by
original sin and are sinful by nature?
As we will now see, the answer is no.
start with the behavior of infants and young children. Some Christians claim (echoing the views of
Augustine) that since babies cry and demand attention without any regard for
their parents, it is evidence of their “sinful” nature. Of course, the reality is that babies cry not
because they are “impatient” or “selfish” but because at such a young age, they
are completely dependent on their parents and incapable of doing anything on
their own. Their survival depends on
their parents’ care and attention.
There is also a growing body of
scientific evidence which demonstrates that toddlers exhibit a form of “altruism”. This evidence contradicts the claims of
original sin proponents since altruistic behavior is essentially “selfless”
behavior, which would not be expected in a being that is supposedly born with “evil inclinations”. A 2008 study conducted by psychologist
Michael Tomasello showed evidence of innate altruistic behavior in toddlers. In a lecture given in 2008, Tanner stated
“[f]rom when they first begin to walk and talk and become truly
cultural beings, young human children are naturally cooperative and helpful in
many—though obviously not all—situations… And they do not get this from adults;
it comes naturally.”
Another study conducted in 2011
showed that infants as young as 15 months old were able to tell the difference
between equal and unequal food distribution.
Commenting on the results of this study, the lead scientist, Professor
Jessica Sommerville stated that:
“[o]ur findings show that these norms of fairness and altruism
are more rapidly acquired than we thought…”
Yet another study demonstrated “empathic behavior” in infants as early as 18
months of age. In this study, infants witnessed
a teddy bear suffering a simulated “accident”.
Upon witnessing the “accident”, many toddlers showed a sense of “distress and concern”. Not only that, but many “also responded by trying to help or comfort the bear.”
So what these and other studies show is that altruism,
empathy and a general sense of fairness appear in infants at a very young age. While it is not yet clear that this is due to
“nature” or “nurture”, it is part of a growing body of evidence against the
concept of original sin. Even if it was
proven to be the result of “nurture”, which is entirely possible, we would have
to ask how a supposedly “sinful” child, whose nature is to do “evil”, would
more often than not do the exact opposite if trained to do so.
previously mentioned, proponents of original sin also point to societal
problems as evidence that man’s nature is tainted. Crime, gangs, suicide, and war are all seen
as “symptoms” of original sin. However,
this reasoning is flawed because while these phenomena are definitely problems
that need solutions, they are not necessarily seen in all humans and their
prevalence varies in different societies.
For example, one of the most deviant crimes is rape. It affects every nation and will probably never
be completely extinguished, yet only a small percentage of humans can be
categorized as “rapists” or “sex offenders”.
The same can be said of murderers.
If rape and murder were “symptoms” of original sin, then why are most
people not rapists and/or murderers? Why
do most people rightly regard such acts as horrible crimes which should be
criminal behavior can be caused by environmental factors. For example, gang activity is typically more
common in poverty-stricken areas rather than more affluent areas. Research has shown several “risk factors”
that may increase the chances of a teenager joining a gang. In addition to poverty, these risk factors
include sexual or physical abuse and drug use. But if original sin was a real phenomenon,
why don’t more people join violent street gangs? Why do most people who join only do so mostly
because of environmental factors rather than some “natural” tendency to do
previously mentioned, some Christians argue that original sin even affected
animal life. One of the “proofs” given
to support this view is that the Bible clearly states that all animals were
originally given plants for food (Genesis 1:30), and that since there are
obviously animals that are strict meat-eaters, their nature must have been
affected by original sin. But as any
biology student will explain, there is evidence that as long as animal life has
existed, so has predation and death. The best evidence which refutes the Biblical
view is that Earth is much older than just 6,000 years. Current estimates are that the Earth was
formed around 4.5 billion years ago and that life first appeared around 3.8
billion years ago. Thus, life existed on Earth long before Adam
was even created, and there is evidence that predatory animals preyed on other
animals for food and were definitely not vegetarians. This can be seen by studying fossils of
animals that existed hundreds of millions of years ago. One such fossil, dated to around 550 million
years ago, shows an animal known as Cloudina that was apparently
attacked by a predator which actually bored through its protective shell. Thus, there is no reason to uphold the view
that Adam’s original sin brought death to humans and animals and also turned
vegetarian animals into vicious carnivores.
Islamic View on Sin
debunked the claims of original sin proponents using both the Bible and
science, let us now discuss the Islamic view on sin. Contrary to the views of Paul, Augustine and
other proponents of original sin, Islam denies that mankind is tainted by the
sin of Adam and Eve. It also denies that
death entered the world as a result of that sin. As stated in our article “The Fall of Adam and Eve in the Bible and the Quran:
Analyzing the Epic Story That Started it All”:
“…the Quran teaches that each individual is responsible for
his/her own sins.”
Thus, even if Adam and Eve had “sinned” (see note #77 below),
their sin was their own and did not affect their progeny. Each person is responsible for his or her own
like the Tanakh (and to a lesser extent, the New Testament), the Quran
emphasizes that humans can do good or evil, but that people do not turn to evil
because it is in their “nature”. This
idea is best demonstrated in the concept of “fitrah”,
which is defined as:
“…an inborn natural predisposition which cannot change, and
which exists at birth in all human beings.”
Thus, “fitrah” refers to
the pure state in which all human beings are created. They are born pure and sinless and are only
turned away from this pure state by how they are raised by their parents as
well as the whispers of Satan. Regarding the misguidance of one’s
environment, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated:
“The mother of every person gives him birth according to his
true nature. It is subsequently his
parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian.”
Regarding the misguidance caused by Satan, the Prophet
Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He)
“I have created My servants as one having a natural inclination
to the worship of Allah but it is Satan who turns them away from the right
religion and he makes unlawful what has been declared lawful for them and he
commands them to ascribe partnership with Me, although he has no justification
proof for the concept of “fitrah” can be
found in the fact that, contrary to the “Westminster
Confession of Faith” as well the false teachings of Augustine, Islam
emphatically states that infants that die before reaching the age of
accountability will be in Paradise. It
is stated in a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that he had a
dream in which he saw the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) with many
children around him. In his dream, he
was told that the children were those who had died with “al-Fitrah” (i.e. they had died before the age of
accountability and in their pure state).
When he was asked whether there were children of pagans in that group,
the Prophet responded that they were also included.
who died in adulthood, but did not hear the message of Islam, will not be
automatically doomed to hell. Rather,
they will be tested. As Islamic scholar
Jalal Abualrub explains, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He):
“…will test Ahlu al-Fatrah, those who died without receiving
Allah’s Message through any of His Prophets; those who lived and died with
deficiencies such as deafness or insanity; and those who were senile when Islam
This is in stark contrast to the unjust theology of original
sin, which confines innocent infants and those with mental deficiencies to an
eternity in hell because of the sins of their ancestors and a tyrannical deity
which will only be satiated with blood atonement. Indeed, the theology of original sin is an
insult to the Glorious and Merciful God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad
(peace be upon them all). All praise is
due to Him!
As far as
the fall of Adam and Eve is concerned, we have discussed it in greater detail in
the aforementioned article. For the
purposes of this article, it suffices for us to discuss the significance of the
fall and what impact it had on all human beings.
First, it is clear from the
Quran and Ahadith that mankind’s destiny was to live on Earth for a time,
regardless of whether Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree or not. Thus, mankind cannot blame Adam and Eve for being
the cause of their earthly existence. It
was the will of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) from the start, as it is stated
in Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:30:
“Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a
vicegerent on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who
will make mischief therein and shed blood, whilst we do celebrate Thy praises
and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know
keeping with our destiny to live on Earth, the Quran states that it was also
ordained that we die after living out our predetermined lives:
“It is Allah Who has created you: further, He has provided for
your sustenance; then He will cause you to die; and again He will give you
life. Are there any of your (false) "Partners" who can do any single
one of these things? Glory to Him! And high is He above the partners they
attribute (to him)!”
Thus, the Quran does not endorse the myth that death entered
into the world only after Adam’s sin. It
was always ordained. So long as humans (and
all other living things) live on Earth, life and death will go hand in
Finally, and most importantly, the
Quran states that Adam and Eve’s sin was forgiven:
“Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his
Lord turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.”
Therefore, there is no reason for that sin to remain on the
shoulders of their progeny. As Abularub
states, “…a sin that was forgiven can never be
inherited.” Adam’s sin was forgiven because he turned to
his Lord and sincerely sought His forgiveness, and the Merciful Lord responded
by forgiving him. No blood was required,
just a sincere and repentant heart.
Thus, there is no room in Islam for the false doctrine of original sin.
article, we have discussed the Christian doctrine of original sin and analyzed
the common arguments made by proponents in favor of it. Based on this discussion, we can see
unmistakable evidence that the doctrine of original sin, while clearly
supported by the writings of Paul, is contradicted by the Tanakh, the gospels
and the writings of the Ante-Nicene church fathers. In addition, we have seen evidence from scientific
studies to conclude that, far from being born with an “evil” nature, mankind
actually is born with innate tendencies to be altruistic. Finally, we have seen that Islamic teachings
also wholeheartedly reject the flawed concept of original sin, and are in
agreement with the scientific evidence.
The best-case scenario for proponents of original sin is that they can
find some support in the Pauline epistles, but no support from almost every
other source. The logical conclusion
must therefore be that “original sin”, as originally proposed by Paul and
further developed by the likes of Tertullian and Augustine, is a false concept
that runs contrary to reason and that no reasonable person could ever possibly
believe in it.
And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
 According to the
Christian website “GotQuestions”, original sin can be defined as:
and its guilt that we all possess in God’s eyes as a direct result of Adam’s
sin in the Garden of Eden” (https://www.gotquestions.org/original-sin.html).
 This is the Calvinist
concept, which the above website claims “is most
consistent with biblical teaching”.
 As we will see, while
the well-known church father Augustine is largely responsible for the
development of the theology of original sin, the Ante-Nicene fathers did not
seem to be familiar with this concept.
 As the late Catholic
scholar Raymond E. Brown explained, the term “original sin”:
technically biblical but reflects more the articulation of St. Augustine and
other early Church Fathers” (Raymond E. Brown, 101 Questions and Answers on the
Bible (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1990), p. 35).
an earlier book, Brown stated that it was primarily the Church Fathers Ambrose
and Augustine who helped develop “the theology of
original sin” (Raymond E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily
Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973), p. 41).
 All translations of the
Bible are from the New International Version (NIV).
 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
 1 Corinthians 15:17.
as previously mentioned, the Biblical evidence for the concept of original sin
is weak at best, and in fact, there are contradictions even within the New
 As we will see, this
reasoning is not only logically flawed, but contradicts a growing body of
 As we will see, the
scientific evidence contradicts this view, which explains why Christians base
their claims entirely on the Bible!
 While the appeal to
original sin is erroneous, as we will see, Christians who argue that all
animals were originally vegetarians do find support in the Bible. Genesis 1:30 states this clearly:
all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures
that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give
every green plant for food.””
 The book of Job seems
to imply the impurity of sexual intercourse and childbirth. For example, Job 14:1 states that:
born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.”
Job 15:14 states:
are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could
Job 25:4 states:
then can a mortal be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure?”
the commentary on Job 14:1, “The Jewish Study Bible” notes that:
read this as a reference to the impurity of childbirth” (The Jewish Study Bible, ed. Adele Berlin
and Marc Zvi Brettler (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 1522.)
the commentary on Job 15:14, “The Jewish Study Bible” explains that:
Job and his friend [Bildad] agree that people are worthless. They disagree, however, concerning the
implications of this premise: For the friend, it means that people are
fundamentally sinners, while for Job it suggests that God needs to give people
more leeway in judging them” (Ibid., p. 1525).
there is no mention of the inherent sinfulness of mankind due to Adam’s sin,
but rather to mankind’s “impurity” due to natural childbirth.
reason the book of Job does not support the Christian contention is that it
makes a clear distinction between sinners and non-sinners. Job 9:22 states clearly that there are two
camps of humans, those who are “blameless”
and those who are “wicked”:
“[i]t is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the
blameless and the wicked.’”
who appeal to the book of Job in their attempts to defend the concept of
original sin fail to realize that the above verses are part of a dialogue
between Job and his friends. The context
of Job 9:22 shows that Job considered himself to be “blameless”,
or as “The Jewish Study Bible” puts it:
continually argues that his suffering is undeserved” (Ibid., p. 1504).
according to Job 42:7, God agreed with him:
Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry
with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me,
as my servant Job has.”
the commentary, “The Jewish Study Bible” states that:
friends repeatedly offended God by intimating that Job somehow brought his
suffering upon himself”
(Ibid., p. 1561).
Job was truly “blameless”. But how could this be if, like every other
human being, he had inherited Adam’s sin and guilt? How could Job be “blameless”
and yet Paul insisted that no one was “righteous” (see note #31)? Christians simply cannot have it both ways.
Biblical figures who are also described as “blameless”
are Noah (Genesis 6:9), and David (2 Samuel 22:24). Abraham (peace be upon him) was also told to
be “blameless” before God (Genesis
17:1). How could this be so if they were
also tainted by original sin?
 In other words, this
could be referring to the influence of the environment on how children will
behave as adults. This is similar to the
Islamic view, as we will see later.
 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
 The Jewish Study
Bible, op. cit., p. 1339.
 See also Psalm 18:23.
 It should be noted that
the verse clearly differentiates between the “righteous”
and the “wicked”. This is in stark contrast to Paul’s claim
that no one is righteous (Romans 3:11).
Incidentally, Paul was quoting Psalm 14:3, but that verse is also
decontextualized, since it refers not to mankind in general but to sinners
specifically. In addition, verse 3
states that people became corrupt, which implies that they were not corrupt
turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even
verses 5-6 of the same psalm refer to “righteous”
is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their
Psalm 14 cannot be used as evidence for original sin.
 Christians may point to
the commentary of Rashi and claim that the verse actually refers to the time of
birth and not simply one’s childhood.
Rashi’s commentary states that:
time that he [the embryo] shakes himself to emerge from his mother’s womb, the
evil inclination is placed in him” (http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8172#showrashi=true).
even if this interpretation was correct, Rashi explained that the “inclination is placed” in the child. This implies that it was not there by itself,
which would have to be the case if original sin was a reality!
the Hebrew phrase usually translated as “from his
childhood/youth” contains the word “naur”,
which refers to:
state (juvenility) or the persons (young people) -- childhood, youth” (http://biblehub.com/strongs/hebrew/5271.htm).
it actually does refer to a post-infancy period.
Isaiah 7:15 declared that “Immanuel” (the
child Christians erroneously claim was Jesus) would be able to discern between
right and wrong by the time he was able to eat “curds
and honey”. This could not
possibly refer to his infancy. Thus, the
age at which Immanuel would be able to discern between right and wrong and have
the possibility of “evil inclinations” could
only be at a period after infancy.
they were just like Noah, Abraham, Job and David (peace be upon them all).
 Of course, it is
possible that the author of the Gospel of “Luke” was not Luke at all.
 Luke 10:25-28. Compare this to what is written in the other
New Testament book that is usually attributed to Luke, the book of Acts. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were asked by their
jailer what he must do to be “saved”.
Paul and Silas’ response to the jailer is a far cry from that of Jesus
to the “expert in the law”:
jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and
Silas. He then brought them out and
asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and
 The usual Christian
response to this can be seen in the various commentaries of Christian
scholars. For example, “Gill’s
Exposition of the Entire Bible” states:
intimates by this, that, according to the tenor of the law, eternal life was
not to be had without a complete and perfect performance of the duties of love
to God, and to the neighbour, contained in these words; and this he suggests,
in order to convict him of the impossibility of obtaining life by the works of
the law, since such a performance cannot be made by man” (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/luke/10.htm).
other words, according to the Christians, Jesus (peace be upon him) was saying
that eternal life could indeed be attained by following God’s commandments, but
that it was impossible. Yet this
contradicts the Tanakh, which states clearly that it was possible to
attain salvation by following the commands of God. In Deuteronomy 30, Moses (peace be upon him)
explained to the Israelites that obeying God’s commands was not difficult or
what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your
reach. It is not up in heaven, so that
you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us
so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the
sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it
to us so we may obey it?” No, the word
is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).
the view of Rabbi Tovia Singer, the meaning is very clear. He states that:
extraordinary sermon delivered by Moses in the last days of his life, the
prophet stands before the entire nation and condemns the notion that man’s
condition is utterly hopeless. Throughout this uplifting exhortation, Moses
declared that it is man alone who can and must merit his own salvation.
Moreover, as he unhesitatingly speaks in the name of God, the lawgiver
excoriates the notion that obedience to the Almighty is “too difficult or far
off.” According [sic], he declared to the children of
Israel that righteousness has been placed within their reach” (https://outreachjudaism.org/original-sin/).
would appear that if Jesus (peace be upon him) was actually saying what the
Christians claim, then he was contradicting Moses (peace be upon him)!
 Luke 18:15-17. See also Mark 10:13-16 and Matthew 19:13-15.
 In reality, the alleged
link between these church leaders and the disciples of Jesus (peace be upon
him) is based more on hearsay rather than hard evidence. For example, it is claimed that Polycarp was
a disciple of John, but the evidence for this is lacking. Polycarp even failed to mention his master in
his letters to Christian churches. If
John was truly Polycarp’s teacher, wouldn’t it make sense to appeal to his
 Raymond E. Brown, An
Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), p. 580.
belief in original sin had obvious implications for human salvation. So extreme were his views that even newborn
infants were ineligible for salvation and were in “need
of grace” because they shared the “common
origin of the human race”. In his
view, infants that were not baptized would be consigned to “perdition” (https://bjorkbloggen.com/2014/04/01/quotes-from-the-old-church-fathers-where-they-deny-original-sin-sinful-nature/).
course, most contemporary Christians would probably disagree with Augustine and
would rightly find the idea that unbaptized infants will be denied entry into
heaven to be unjust. However, it would
appear that their rejection of Augustine’s views is due more to their unease
about infants going to hell rather than any firm teaching in their
scriptures. Indeed, since most
Christians assume the truth of original sin, they must ask themselves why
infants would be exempted from Adam’s curse.
Augustine’s views may not be as popular in modern times, but one cannot
blame him for coming to that conclusion given his firm faith in original
sin. It is the natural conclusion to
make if all humans inherited Adam’s sin, which is why the concept is completely
and utterly unjust.
a bizarre note, Justin Martyr also believed that humans “…were considered worthy to become gods, and to have the capability of
becoming Sons of the Most High”!
that Theophilus seemed to believe that salvation could be attained by good
works rather than grace. Thus, man’s
righteousness could bring salvation. In
this regard, Theophilus seemed to disagree with Paul who believed that no human
being could be considered “righteous” and could only attain salvation by grace.
 But like Justin Martyr,
Theophilus also had the bizarre belief that humans could strive for
“perfection” and become “gods”!
was the main opponent of Augustine. It
was mainly in response to Pelagius that Augustine developed the theology of
original sin (Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, op. cit.,
doctrine which holds that the soul is transmitted from parents to children is
called “traducianism” (https://www.gotquestions.org/traducianism.html).
is interesting that two of the most important doctrines in Christianity, the
trinity and original sin, seem to have been at least partly developed by
Tertullian, a theologian who eventually became a “heretic” when he converted to
 Altruism is a
biological term that is defined as “a behavior that
reduces an animal’s individual fitness but increases the fitness of other
individuals in the population” (Jane B. Reece et al., Campbell
Biology, Tenth Edition (Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2014), p.
1151). In other words, altruism is a
fancy word for “selflessness” (Ibid., p.
behavior is also seen in animals, though we tend to think that animal behavior
is usually selfish. An example of
altruistic behavior in animals can be seen in the Belding’s
ground squirrel. The natural
predators of these magnificent animals include coyotes and hawks. When one squirrel sees a predator approaching
its group, it will warn the group of the impending danger by giving out a
high-pitched call. However, by doing so,
the individual squirrel increases the chances of being detected and killed by
the predator. Thus, the end result could
very well result in the death of the individual but the survival of the group
as a whole (Ibid., p. 1151).
above video shows an experiment conducted at Yale University which illustrates
the sense of fairness and empathy that many infants show.
 This does not mean that
infants only exhibit selfless behavior.
On the contrary, it is likely that both “selfless” and “selfish”
behaviors are “hardwired” (in others word,
they are “innate”). As one source puts
compassion and fear are genetically hardwired to ensure the survival of
the baby and it’s “in-group”. Beyond this, humans learn by nurture, not
nature, how to extend their compassion to those outside their group, or
likewise how to extend their “hate” to strangers outside their group” (http://factmyth.com/factoids/humans-are-born-selfish-not-compassionate/).
when proponents of original sin point to “selfish” behavior in infants and
claim that it proves they are tainted by original sin, it reflects their own
ignorance of human psychology and development.
 Indeed, if living
things did not die, our planet would have become overpopulated and left with no
resources very quickly, long before humans would have become the dominant
 It is clear from
Biblical passages that the authors of the Bible believed that Earth was created
only 6,000 years ago. This topic was
discussed in a previous article:
 Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth,
Edited by Angeles Gavira Guerrero and Peter Frances (New York: DK Publishing,
2012), p. 16.
 Reece, et al., Campbell
Biology, op. cit., p. 671.
picture of this fossil can also be seen here:
 It would be silly to
say that Tyrannosaurus rex, one of the most ferocious predators in the
history of life on Earth, was originally a vegetarian!
that this concept seems to have support in the scientific studies mentioned
above. Rather than being born with a
corrupted and sinful nature, we find that mankind actually has a natural
tendency to be good.
 The role of demons for
the sinfulness of mankind was also recognized by Justin Martyr, as shown above.
 Sahih Muslim, 33:6429.
 Sahih Muslim, 40:6853.
 Sahih Bukhari,
 Jalal Abualrub, 50
Righteous and Humane Concepts Brought by Muhammad, The Prophet of Mercy
(Madinah Publishers and Distributers, 2007), p. 37.
 Abualrub, op. cit.,
for their “sin” of eating from the tree, they did not do so out of deliberate
rebellion against God’s command. It was
more of a lapse in judgement. This can
be seen in the fact that Adam and Eve did not eat from the tree until Satan
made them false promises. They were
misled by Satan.
 Surah Ar-Rum, 30:40
(Yusuf Ali Translation).
 Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:37.