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Discussions and questions pertaining to Christmas: when and where was Jesus born? The Shepherds, the Wise men, the descent into Egypt, the star, the manger, and the Virgin Birth. Let's talk.

Mary' virginal conception of Jesus

Postby Karma Chameleon » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:14 pm

Do all Christians believe Mary truly conceived Jesus as a virgin?

And how do you deal with this in regards to what we know in modern science?

Forgive me if I sound ignorant, I'm just trying to understand more about Christianity.
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Re: Mary' virginal conception of Jesus

Postby jimwalton » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:30 pm

In their era, it was much easier for them to accept. They followed Aristotelian biological ideas where males provided the life force and women the bodily substance (the incubator) for it. They knew it took a man and a woman, but it was easy for them to postulate that God provided the life force in Mary's "oven."

In our era, we know about sperm and eggs, and X and Y chromosomes—things that make us go "Hmm..." for a virginal conception. Our modern understanding requires God to have acted biologically to provide part of the genetic material necessary for conception to have taken place. Both Matthew and Luke are firm on this, though: Mary had never had intercourse—that Jesus was conceived without the participation of a human male. We are left to the conclusion of a veritable miracle: God, who is able to create out of nothing (Heb. 11.3), created a sperm in her.

As to Jesus's genetic makeup, Dr. Jeff Hardin, embryologist, said, "It’s all speculative, and ultimately an unproductive discussion. How did he end up with a male embryo without a sperm? It’s a miracle. We didn’t have the technology when Jesus was born to genotype Him."

I once emailed Dr. Stephen Schaffner (Ph.D. in Particle physics from Yale, now working with the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T.) about it. He replied, "If Jesus' DNA is a product of direct divine miracle, then it could look like absolutely anything since there are no constraints on God's action here, and no obvious reason for thinking he would do one thing rather than another. He could make the DNA look like Mary's with a slight modification, or like Mary’s + a random male's, or exactly like George Clooney's. It's only naturally inherited DNA that's constrained to look like parental DNA. This is why science can't handle non-naturalistic processes."
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Re: Mary' virginal conception of Jesus

Postby Karma Chameleon » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:26 pm

I see. From what I am understanding, the Christian perspective is that Jesus' conception and other miraculous events is supernatural and non-naturalistic and thus cannot be described by man-made sciences.

Is it your understanding that since the writers of the Bible had no other way to describe this event that they made an explanation that was false (but true to their understanding)? Doesn't this call into question other events written about in the Bible?
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Re: Mary' virginal conception of Jesus

Postby jimwalton » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:40 pm

> I see. From what I am understanding, the Christian perspective is that Jesus' conception and other miraculous events is supernatural and non-naturalistic and thus cannot be described by man-made sciences.

Correct.

> Is it your understanding that since the writers of the Bible had no other way to describe this event that they made an explanation that was false (but true to their understanding)? Doesn't this call into question other events written about in the Bible?

No. The Bible writers weren't just trying to come up with an explanation. Mary had been told by the angel that it would be a miraculous, non-naturalistic event. She was told that the child in her was a result of a supernatural event, and she would be pregnant even though she had never had sex. This message and the miraculous event was communicated to the writers of Matthew and Luke.

Therefore it doesn't call into question other events written about in the Bible.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:40 pm.
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