Virgin Birth


Don’t let anyone tell you that modern science proves that virgin birth is impossible.  It proves the very opposite. We now know that with the right technological intervention it is possible for a woman who has never had sex to give birth.

To claim that the correct technology wasn’t available 2,000 years ago is to beg the question.  The claim being made by those who believe in the Virgin Birth is that God had the technology,  Despite what Richard Dawkins and others believe the words miraculous and magical are not synonyms.To say that something is miraculous is to say that it is due to a direct intervention of God, using  the powers which He has.

If  God exists and has this power, then modern knowledge gives us no reason to believe that virgin birth  was anymore impossible two thousand years ago than it is today.

The nativity story can only be literally true if God exists. But to claim as Christians have been for nearly 2,000 years that the Child in the manger was God incarnate, is to proclaim a God, who is not by his nature omnipotent and omniscient.  No baby can have these characteristics.

Anselm, ( c. 1033 – 21 April 1109)  the first of the  scholastic philosophers defined God as that than which no greater can be imagined to exist.  This for him included omnipotence and omniscience.

Bertrand Russell (1872 -1970) wasn’t overly impressed with omnipotence and omniscience as evidence of greatness, and finished an essay entitled “Is there a God?” with what he imagined greatness to be.

Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.

Bertrand Russell Is there a God? Commissioned, but not published by Illustrated Magazine in 1952

An abstract concept whose conditions were, according to the gospels, fulfilled by the Child in the manger and the Man he grew into.

Not, I think, the conclusion that Russell was aiming for. 

Russell’s Error

There is, it is true, a Modernist form of theism, according to which God is not omnipotent, but is doing His best, in spite of great difficulties. This view, although it is new among Christians, is not new in the history of thought.

 Bertrand Russell Is there a God? Commissioned, but not published by Illustrated Magazine in 1952

Christianity originated in a world where human wisdom accepted the reality of incarnate gods. The Caesars were recognized as gods; the earthly heirs to the power of omnipotent Jove. The Incarnate God of the gospels was the antithesis of the gods of the Imperial Cult; He was the Anti -Caesar.  His worship was a rejection of the values of power.

There is no doubt that the notion of an omnipotent, omniscient  God has a long history within Christian theology; this is not sufficient reason to claim that it has been the view of all Christians up until modern times. There is no reason to believe that Russell’s claim is true, and reason to believe that it is not.

It is not Virgin Birth and the miracles in the gospels which are the main offence to human rationality, but rather the image of maximal greatness.

22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians Chapter 1 Verses 22-24 King James Bible

Death by crucifixion was the ultimate humiliation, the fate of  the dis-empowered and conquered. The man on the cross was, by all the the commonsense of this world, the image of absolute powerlessness and defeat, and yet this is the man that Paul is declaring as the power and wisdom of God.

Or as G.A. Studdert Kennedy, one of Bertrand Russell’s alleged Modernists has it:

Thou hast bid us seek Thy glory, in a criminal crucified.
And we find it – for Thy glory is the glory of Love’s loss,
And Thou hast no other splendour but the splendour of the Cross.

The history of Christendom is a long Judas Kiss, where theologians in the service of human rationality, have worked to conform the truth of Christ to the values of this world, with its overweening respect for power.

Though his image has been cheapened and demeaned, into that of the ultimate appeaser. He who accepted the authority of, and died to satisfy the wrath/honour,of the god of power; the omnipotent Caesar of heaven. Yet still the beauty of Christ’s truth shines through, even for Bertrand Russell. He was, in old age, able to admire the values, that this young man had taught were the Way of  the only God worth serving – the God who calls us to act in love to our fellow human beings.

When, in a recent book, I said that what the world needs is “love, Christian love, or compassion,” many people thought this showed some changes in my views, although in fact, I might have said the same thing at any time. If you mean by a “Christian” a man who loves his neighbor, who has wide sympathy with suffering, and who ardently desires a world freed from the cruelties and abominations which at present disfigure it, then, certainly, you will be justified in calling me a Christian.

Bertrand Russell What is an Agnostic 1953


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