In general, Muslims accept both the Old Testament and the Gospels, but feel that in the translation of the Bible over the centuries many errors crept in. Thus a new revelation from God to Mohammed, in about 600 A.D. was required to set the record straight. Doctrines such as the deity of Christ and salvation by His atoning death on the cross were rejected. The views on creation and the flood are substantially the same, although interpretations of the Koranic teachings are as widely varied, even among committed Muslims, as they are among evangelical Christians.
The Koran, if one interprets it literally, teaches a six-day creation. Adam and Eve were created in innocent perfection and placed in a beautiful garden. Here Satan tempted them to rebel against God by eating the forbidden fruit, thus incurring God's wrath and judgment, and expulsion from the Garden.
The wicked pre-flood civilization is described at length. Eventually, Noah is told to build the Ark; and from its passengers the entire world has been repopulated. The description of the flood closely resembles the Biblical description, with vast rainfall, eruptions, and earthquakes. As to the age of the earth, again a straightforward reading implies a creation of all things a few thousand years ago—no room for billions of years of evolution.
If creation is the foundation, the foundation is in place for a truly theistic world view, and Muslims do have such a view. Unfortunately, the Islamic view of salvation is quite different. The penalty for sin in Islam is death, and it is recognized that everyone sins. The individual must pray for forgiveness, but has no assurance of heaven in the afterlife, and must work hard to earn God's favor. Obviously, Islam has not built truly on the foundation of creation.
But there is also a serious flaw in the foundation—that of the nature of the fall into sin. While Adam and Eve received judgment for their sin, there is no hint in the Koran of the curse on all creation, as described in Genesis 3. To a Muslim, creation fell "Out of balance" at the fall, but didn't come under the "bondage of corruption" spoken of in Romans 8:21. Infants carry no inherited sin nature, although they each do eventually choose to sin. Thus, since an individual's choice of sin brings judgment, so an individual's choice of repentance and good works can bring restoration. There is no other payment for sin as in Christianity, where "Christ died for our sins" (I Corinthians 15:3).
At a recent conference in Istanbul, I mentioned that Darwin's stated reason for accepting evolution by natural processes was the existence of pain and suffering, extinction and death in the world. He concluded there must not be a supernatural Creator, and thus only natural processes were at work.
A conversation with several of the Muslim scientists—all of them firm Muslim believers—revealed that they each had problems with this issue. Perhaps this is the main key to Muslim evangelism, focusing their attention on God's just response to sin (as applied both to creation and to individuals), away from a works-oriented salvation, and, instead, on the finished work of the Creator on the cross.
*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.