Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


The Virgin-Birth Fairy-Tale

The only sources the Church recognises for accurate information about the life of Jesus are the four gospels. Only two of them, Matthew and Luke seem to teach the Christian idea expressed about Jesus in the Nicene Creed, “By the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” This is the outlandish idea that Mary conceived Jesus without sperm and without sex and gave birth to him as a Virgin. The baby in her womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
 
However, if you take a closer look, it is really only Matthew that seems to be saying it. One eyewitness testimony is not enough in the Bible and Jesus himself accepted that rule and Matthew doesn’t even pretend to be an eyewitness or to be using eyewitnesses.

The story is that Mary and Joseph were engaged and Joseph decided the baby had nothing to do anybody having intercourse with her for a dream told him the child was of the Holy Spirit.  The text says before that that Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit and that fits the notion that the only authority for that was Joseph's dream.  Its a valid interpretation and a valid interpretation is all you can ask for anyway.  If Mary said her pregnancy was a mystery then Joseph did not believe her and took the dream word's for it not hers which says a lot about her character and the trust between them.

God needing to give a divine revelation to say where Jesus came from is a sign that there was no evidence that the girl had not say being abused sexually and blacked it out.

Conceived by the Holy Spirit still uses the language of conceived.  Why not just say that the Holy Spirit made Mary's seed grow into Jesus?  It is like it merely says the conception was strange but not necessarily miraculous.
 
The Bible says Jesus was true man and like us in all things but sin. We know from genetics that a lot of the evil things we do come from a genetic predisposition. It follows then that Jesus inherited the inclination towards evil from his mother and the sperm that fertilised her egg or from both. God then as good as tempted Jesus to sin by doing that to him. Yet the Bible says God is too good to suggest that we sin. He doesn't tempt.

HOST MOTHER

Oddly certain races like the Canaanites were to be destroyed at divine command but the men of Israel were allowed to forcibly marry their virgins and impregnate them! See Deuteronomy 21. This shows no understanding of conception. The women were seen as host mothers.   The reformer Menno Simons argued that Mary was not the mother of Jesus but she was just an incubator for Jesus.  The popular Christian view is that Mary was the mother of Jesus but he had no human father.  If Mary was not Jesus' mother then her high place in Catholicism is just stupid and she was degraded by God.

Many argue that a woman conceiving a child without a father in a loving relationship is being degraded anyway.  She is not a host mother but treated as something that is no better than a host mother.
 
REST OF NT DID NOT TEACH VIRGIN BIRTH

Luke does not clearly say that he meant no man's sperm would be involved.  Neither does Matthew.  So even if they are true Jesus might still have had a human father.

Let us check if the other New Testament writers knew of a virgin conception/birth.

In Mark (6:3), Jesus is called the Son of Mary by Jews. The Jewish practice was to call a child the son of his father. Sexism reigned then. This title does not imply that Jesus had to be called the Son of Mary for he had no father at all. If they meant that then they believed in the virginal and miracle conception which is most unlikely. They would not have been amazed at his wisdom if they believed that a miracle brought him into the world. They called him the Son of Mary because they did not know Joseph. They had to call him something. Joseph seems to have been dead or away with another woman then. Different areas have different customs and idioms so maybe this one had no fault with calling a man the son of his mother.

It is imagined that Paul spoke of the virginal conception when he said that Jesus was born of a woman (Galatians 4). The Jews traced descent from the father and his male ancestors not the mother or the female ancestors. But in Job 14:1 we read about man born of woman. Born of woman is just a way of saying that you are human. And Paul was speaking to Greeks who used that kind of terminology.

What tribe you belonged to in Israel depended on what tribe your natural father, not your mother, belonged to. Israel was sexist in the extreme. Mary was not descended from Judah. Yet in Hebrews (7:14) we are told that Jesus came from the unpriestly tribe of Judah inferring that Joseph or at least another member of the tribe of Judah must have been his father.

Christian scholars claim that the Jews in the New Testament accused Jesus of being born outside marriage. They argue that Jesus must have been either illegitimate or conceived of a virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph in order for the rumour to begin.

An illegitimate man could certainly have been the Son of God. The way he was born was not his fault. Some Christians might say that God would not allow that for too many would use it as an excuse for having babies out of wedlock. It is an error to argue what these Christians argue because the gospels insist that there was a lot of nonsense believed about Jesus. Some even thought that he was John the Baptist raised from the dead. He was slandered and he was the target of much revolting gossip. The Jews might have called Jesus illegitimate not because they thought he was born out of wedlock but because he claimed to be the Son of God and they thought he was really the spiritual Son of the Devil and not God’s legitimate Son. If he was a fraud then he was illegitimate for he couldn’t have been a son, a child, of God at all. The Jews would not call him a bastard to demean his virgin birth for that is something they would have wanted nobody to remember.

The Gospel does not say that the Jews slandered Jesus’ birth. Despite Father Raymond Brown (page 65, The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus) saying that the Matthew Gospel claimed that there was a rumour saying Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus was adulterous it says no such thing. It only says that Joseph thought it was adultery not that anybody else did or that people were saying that. Everybody would have known she was pregnant before marriage but that didn’t signify any adultery. Joseph was stated to have meant to get a quiet divorce and that wouldn’t have been possible if there had been public knowledge that her baby didn’t belong to him.
 
The Jews told Jesus that unlike him they were not born of fornication but were God’s children (John 8:41). But just before that they told him that his father was Satan. They did not have illegitimacy in mind at all for they did not suppose that a person was no child of God if he was born outside marriage. By being born of fornication they meant being born under the spell of the Devil. Born of Satan corresponds to the metaphor Matthew uses conceived by the Spirit. Fornication, evil union, is a good metaphor for sin because it is uniting your soul with the Devil. In plain language, the Jews meant this, “Unlike you, we are God’s holy children but you are the fruit of the Devil’s work from your birth”. If the gospel did slander Jesus as having been born out of marriage, then the tales of Jesus being popular as a prophet are fictitious because the Law of Moses found illegitimate children detestable and they were banned from the altar meaning Jesus would have been hated by the Jews and would have got no followers. His claiming to be Son of God would have been thought to be intolerable blasphemy.

You can suppose that the Jews were just returning insult for insults and did call Jesus a bastard blackening his birth if you wish and did not mean what they said.
 
However it is undeniable that though no trace of the illegitimacy rumour can be found among the Jews of Jesus’ generation plenty of them very long after his time said he was born out of wedlock as a result of adultery. If Matthew had been telling the truth that Mary had been found pregnant before her time this would have been used against Jesus as well for surely God would send his son only after his mother and the man thought to be his father had married properly and conceived following the marriage. Jesus would have got no followers.

There is no evidence of a rumour that Jesus was illegitimate among the people of his day. If he had been illegitimate or believed to be he would have had no followers for it was believed that the Jewish scriptures said that an illegitimate person was unclean and so could not be a messenger of God.

Mary would not have told anybody if Joseph was not Jesus’ father for that would have cost her her life.  Nobody would believe the miraculous explanation.

There is no evidence from the first century that Jesus was born of a virgin. The first Christians knew it still made Jesus an illegitimate child and the Lord had said that illegitimate children could not enter his congregation even to the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:2) and so they would not have believed it until the pagan influence crept in.

DID JESUS COME INTO WORLD MIRACULOUSLY?
 
We read in the Old Testament how angels got women pregnant. See Genesis 6.  The Bible also says that occasionally God himself comes as an angel.  Is that why Paul wanted women to cover their heads in church because of the angels?  Conceived by the Holy Spirit could be cover for sex with an angel.  As it is not natural sex Mary could still be classed as a woman who is a virgin in the sense that she never had sex with a man.  Sarah the wife of Abraham got pregnant in her very very old age which may imply a virgin conception in the sense that her husband was too old to have sex with her.  There is no case for arguing that the story of Jesus' birth as understood by Christians is probably true for there are no parallels.  There is enough out there and who says we need exact parallels?

Jewish law banned illegitimate children from full membership in the Jewish religion until the tenth generation - Deuteronomy 23:2.  If Jesus was illegitimate or if he was assumed to be by his people (because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and they would not have believed that) it is hard to account for the gospel data which shows he experienced no discrimination and even ministered as a Rabbi.  He got into the temple to preach as well.

 

We know that the Christian doctrine, “I believe in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary”, as the ancient apostles’ creed puts it is unbiblical for it means that the Spirit took the place of sperm and the Virgin was a real virgin. Under the influence of paganism, most Christians have imagined that they see it in their superstitious scripture.

Scholars sometimes argue that the virginal conception of Jesus must really have happened for it is unique. In pagan stories there is divine lust involved and the god comes down and has sex with the girl who later has his child. But the Bible said that God made Adam without a woman so it was easy for the Christians to say Jesus was made without a man. Uniqueness only proves a good imagination not that the story is true.

The magic conception and birth are not in the New Testament and so they must have been concocted later.

The main reason they were made up seems to have been the fact that the Septuagint, the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, rendered Isaiah 7:14 as: “The virgin shall conceive and have a son and his name will be Emmanuel”. The word translated virgin is almah in the original Hebrew which simply means young woman and does not mean virgin for the Hebrew has words like betoula, betouli and tahor. So the translation is a bad one. The verse looks like a prophecy of a virginal conception and birth but it is not. You can point to a virgin and say, “That virgin will be a mother”. You mean that the girl who is a virgin now will have at least one child the normal way. Moreover, we know that parthenos, the word for virgin might not mean a literal virgin. Though the text is not a proof that virgins can have babies by God without a man there is enough in it to make a person think of the doctrine and misunderstand it in the way Christians have done.
 
When you read the prophecy in context, you see that the prediction was made to King Ahaz in about 734 BC. He was told that he should trust in God in his political troubles not the Assyrians. Ahaz didn't listen so Isaiah uttered a prophecy of doom and said that the young woman will have a son called Emmanuel, meaning God is with us, and before he grows up the destruction of Ahaz's kingdom will be seen. Emmanuel then is not God with us as in God is our friend but is God is with us as judge. This paragraph is based on the analysis of John Dominic Crossan in Jesus, A Revolutionary Biography, John Dominic Crossan, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1994, page 18.

It is foolish to say that the verse did not suggest the magic conception because Luke did not use the verse to defend the doctrines he put forward. There were lots of scripture passages that Luke could have put in his book as if they were predictions about Jesus but didn’t. It was in his translation of the Old Testament and that was enough for Luke. And besides, Luke would have looked at you as if you were nuts if you told him he wrote that Jesus had no father and was born of a virgin.

Many argue: “Mary and her family thought that Jesus was mad according to Mark 3. They would not had he been conceived and born miraculously and virginally.”

It seems to some that Mark does not actually say that Mary thought this. He says that Jesus’ family set off to get him and called him mad and that when they arrived Mary was with them. She might have joined them later on so she might not have been one of those who believed him to be nuts. But Mark would have clearly excluded her and he said the family came to get Jesus and she was family. If she did, Mary could have been beside herself with shame, anger and confusion so she might have thought that Jesus was mental even if he had been miraculously born of her until she had time to think and calm down. She could even have done this without sin. But Mary would have been used to Jesus’ bizarre behaviour by then and would not have been so carried away.
  
The doctrine of a miracle virginal conception and delivery first appeared in the writings of St Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century. But Ignatius was a fanatic, a murderous man who died horribly in the hope that others would bring a brutal death on themselves because of his example, who cannot be taken seriously. What value is there in what he reported when he said it a century after it happened. People were lucky if they made it to fifty in those days. Ignatius eventually became completely deranged and committed suicide for his religious beliefs in a way too horrible to mention.

There are invalid objections to the miraculous virgin conception.

 “In conception the female must supply twenty three chromosomes and the male the same. If Jesus was made by miraculously created male chromosomes then he was not truly human.”

This is nonsense. Chromosomes are chromosomes wherever they come from. What about Adam? The objection commits the fallacy that a person has to be made the natural way to be a human person. God can make genes and chromosomes out of thin air. It is the kind of body and cells you have that determine that. It is dreadful how some people would argue that a cloned human being is some sort of humanoid animal.

If man and woman did not always exist and reproduce then there must have been something that became them that had no father or mother. If the objection were correct then none of us would be human.

“Jesus would have been female if he had no human father and was made from his mother’s egg alone. The Y chromosomes required to make a child male can only come from a man. He would have been a clone if her cell was all that was used.”

Jesus in the Bible referred to as anthropos (human) and aner – the word for individual male.  Quote from http://www.bible-researcher.com/aner.html All in all, the evidence for another sense of aner is quite weak, and must be used with great caution. In fact, it seems likely that aner has stronger and more exclusive associations with maleness than does the English word "man." End of quote.

God could do magic to turn the female foetus into a male one though it was genetically female. Or he could turn the female genes into male ones.  But that would mean drastic changing and fixing and sounds totally undignified.  It would be no better than making a Jesus without a woman or man from scratch.  No that would make more sense!

Your virgin born Jesus would have to be biologically female for he took his body only from his mother.  Nobody is telling us that as Christ allegedly took his body from his mother without a father that this means he was female in a male looking body. A transgender messiah then!  Or better still!  He was a male impersonator!

The objection that Jesus would have been a girl proves that there was no Virgin Birth in reality but it does not prove that the Christian can drop the doctrine.  The inventors of the absurd doctrine did not think it through.

What about the ancient world thinking that women were men who did not develop correctly?  That effectively says that women are not women - they are just transgender men.  The ancients did not know about the ovum and thought pregnancy had something to do with male seed.  The virginal conception of Jesus is really, in context, about Mary having sperm that she probably made herself.  The sperm did not come from a man but from her.  The maleness imagery for the Holy Spirit would support that!

Here is a nonsensical argument for the magic conception: “Original sin, the state of being born an enemy of God, is passed on by father and mother. Jesus had to be conceived without a father to be conceived without this sin. If Jesus had original sin then he was not the Son of God.”

This argument is dying today though it is so hilarious that it never should have been ever voiced. God made the law that original sin had to be transmitted this way so God can change it. He could have preserved Jesus from it instead of making him without a father to do it. The argument questions the competence of God.

The doctrine of the miraculous conception of Jesus is blasphemous for it has God doing miracles that he has no need of when he could be saving the world from suffering. So whether there is a God or not, the doctrine is untrue.

 Lastly 
 
The New Testament refuses to say what the how of Jesus' conception was - it merely disguises how it happened by the vague notion that it was down to the Holy Spirit. 

The virgin birth doctrine of Christendom is a pack of lies. The Church made it up so that its god could match the pagan Gods by having an alleged miraculous origin. It warns us to pay no attention to apparitions of the Virgin Mary - these visions are deceptive for they testify to a virgin conception and birth that never happened.
 
Putting Away Childish Things, Uta Ranke-Heinmann, HarperSanFrancisco, 1992
The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Raymond E Brown, Paulist Press, New York, 1973
The Womb and the Tomb, Hugh Montifiore, Fount – HarperCollins, London, 1992
Son of Joseph, The Parentage of Jesus, Geoffrey Parrinder, T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1992
Papal Sin, Structures of Deceit, Garry Wills, Darton Longman and Todd, London, 2000
The Jesus Dynasty, James D Tabor, Element Books, London, 2006