Which Virgin Birth?
by Vince Vitale
A while back I received an email from a friend of mine, a retired Princeton University professor, in which he detailed some of his objections to Christianity, and in his last line—as if to trump all other considerations—he wrote, “Nor can I believe in a virgin birth.” No further argument. As if to say, it would be crazy to believe in such a thing.
It did make me think, why is it so often the virgin birth that we have the hardest time accepting? Why not Jesus walking on water? Why not him multiplying the loaves?
Maybe it’s because we’re happy for God to do what he wants with his own body, and we’re happy for him to give us gifts, but we get offended at the thought of a miracle that inconveniences us, that has a claim on our lives, that requires us to respond “I am the Lord’s servant,” as Mary did (Luke 1:38).
I thought to write back to my friend with reasons why perhaps he could believe in a virgin birth. But then I realized, he already does. In fact, every person is committed to a virgin birth, whether they realize it or not.
We find one virgin birth in Chapter 1 of Luke’s Gospel:
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:38).
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Admittedly, this is out of the realm of the ordinary. But what exactly is the alternative?
My colleague John Lennox recently debated another Princeton professor—Peter Singer—who is one of the world’s most influential atheists. John challenged him to answer this question: why are we here? And here’s how Peter responded:
“We can assume that somehow in the primeval soup we got collections of molecules that became self-replicating; and I don’t think we need any miraculous or mysterious .”(1)
And I remember thinking, How does us somehow getting self-replicating molecules in the primeval soup not count as a mysterious explanation? That sounds a lot like a virgin birth to me.
Or take the brilliant Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking’s latest attempt to propose an atheistic explanation for our universe: “. . . the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”(2)
Is that any less miraculous of a birth…
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