Previously we looked at what the Bible means when it says that God created people ‘in the image of God’. This explains why human life is precious. However, the Bible continues on from creation to explain a serious problem. We can see the problem from this Psalm (song) in the Bible.
The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)
This says that ‘all’ of us have ‘become corrupt’. Though God made us ‘in the image of God’ something has wrecked this image in all of us. We reveal corruption in a chosen independence from God (‘all have turned aside’ from ‘seeking God’) and also in not doing ‘good’.
Thinking Elves and Orcs
To understand this, compare orcs and elves from the movie Lord of the Rings. Orcs are ugly and evil. Elves are beautiful and peaceful (see Legolas). But orcs had once been elves that Sauron had corrupted in the past. The original elf image in the orcs had been wrecked. In a similar way the Bible says that people have become corrupted. God had made elves but we have become orcs.
For example, we know ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behaviour. But we do not unfailingly live by what we know. It is like a computer virus that damages the proper workings of a computer. Our moral code is there – but a virus has infected it. The Bible starts with people as good and moral, but then also corrupted. This fits with what we observe about ourselves. But it also brings a question: why did God make us this way? (Knowing right and wrong but corrupted from it). As the atheist Christopher Hitchens complains:
“… If god really wanted people to be free of such thoughts [i.e., corrupt ones], he should have taken more care to invent a different species.” Christopher Hitchens. 2007. God is not great: How religion spoils everything. p. 100
But he misses something very important, the Bible does not say that God made us this way, but that something terrible happened after God made us. The first humans revolted against God and in their rebellion they changed and became corrupted.
The Fall of Mankind
This is often called The Fall. God created Adam, the first man. There was an agreement between God and Adam, like a marriage contract of faithfulness, and Adam broke it. The Bible records that Adam ate from the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’ even though they had agreed that he would not eat from that tree. The agreement and the tree itself, gave Adam a free choice to remain faithful to God or not. Adam had been created in the image of God, and placed into friendship with Him. But Adam had no choice regarding his creation, so God allowed him to choose about his friendship with God.
Just like the choice to stand is not real if sitting is impossible, the friendship and trust of Adam to God had to be a choice. This choice centered on the command not to eat from that one tree. And Adam chose to rebel. What Adam started with his rebellion has gone non-stop through all generations and continues with us today. We look next at what this means.