Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Another perspective on evil

By David Fisher - posted Wednesday, 22 October 2008

John Töns in his recent article in On Line OpinionA Perspective on Evil” equated Evil to Original Sin. He has also placed it in Judaism and Islam as well as Christianity. Original Sin is a Christian concept not a Jewish or Islamic one and is primarily associated with Western Christianity.

The concept of Original Sin has its roots in paganism not monotheism. The nature of evil is not connected with Original Sin.

Rabbi Hertz expressed the normative Jewish attitude in his commentary in the Soncino edition of the Pentateuch. Genesis 3: 17 … cursed is the ground for thy sake.


“… for thy sake”. According to Rabbi Hertz “Only as Adam lived was the earth under a curse”. No curse was passed on to his descendents.

Rabbi Hertz interpreted Genesis 3:16 as God saying to Eve “Thee I need not punish. A sufficiency of woe and suffering is thine because of thy physical being.”

The normative Jewish attitude is that we are all born neither good nor evil. Our subsequent acts determine whether we are good or evil. No one can take on another’s sins.

Imam Ahmed Saad of the “Reading Islam” project states:

Islam teaches that all humans are innocent by birth and they become sinful only when they consciously commit a sin. Islam regards the concept of “Original Sin” and the need for atonement by God Himself - via dying on the Cross - as a pure invention of those who came after Jesus Christ, declaring themselves as Christians.

Another important point to bear in mind about the Islamic concept of sin is that one man’s sin cannot be transferred to another; nor can the reward due to a person be transferred either. Every individual is responsible only for his or her actions.

The Islamic position is exactly the same as the Jewish.


As mentioned earlier, the concept of Original Sin has its roots in paganism not monotheism. It stems from Plato’s Theory of Forms. In the beginning was the idea, and the reality is a degenerate form of the idea. The real world is thus imperfect, and the ideal form is perfect.

In the City of God, Augustine reflected how physicality is the natural basis for mankind's propensity for sin. He took the Platonic idea that physical form in the reality of mankind's existence on Earth is imperfect compared to the ideal of the human.

Augustine applied this idea to the biblical story of Adam’s sin and the subsequent expulsion from Eden and concluded that all humanity carries on the stain of that sin.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

41 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

David Fisher is an old man fascinated by the ecological implications of language, sex and mathematics.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by David Fisher

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of David Fisher
Article Tools
Comment 41 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy