The causes of idiopathic scoliosis are still uncertain; buckling is mentioned often, but never proven. The authors hypothesize another option: unilateral postponement of growth of MM Rotatores or of ligamentum flavum and intertransverse ligament. In this paper, both buckling and the two new theories of scoliotic initiation are studied using a new finite element model that simulates the mechanical behavior of the human spine. This model was validated by the stiffness data of Panjabi et al. (J. Biomech. 9:185–192, 1976). After a small correction of the prestrain of some ligaments and the MM Rotatores the model appeared to be valid. The postponement in growth was translated in the numerical model in an asymmetrical stiffness. The spine was loaded axially and the resulting deformation was analyzed for the presence of the coupling of lateral deviation and axial rotation that is characteristic for scoliosis. Only unilateral postponement of growth of ligamentum flavum and intertransverse ligament appeared to initiate scoliosis. Buckling did not initiate scoliosis.