Monday, December 12, 2011

Mary's boychild: The biological impossibility of the virgin birth

Recently, at work of all weird places, two colleagues tried to convince me there was positive proof that christ was a real person.

One of my colleagues said there is actual documentation - something like a birth record - of christ's birth. I searched Google for any mention of such a document or anything that could be considered such an important document and came up dry. I can safely say the allegation of a birth-certificate is false or the catholic church would be crowing like a million turkeys... ok, yeah, they already do that.  (Seems Obama is in good company in the missing birth certificate department, at least was for a while....).

The other colleague said proof for christ was a group of ossuaires - boxes containing bones, none DNA tested, one, and none possibly producing the slightest possibility of DNA linking to 'Mary' for whom there is utterly no evidence of existence. Click here for the link I gave him. It refers to an article that my colleague says is less "factural" than National Enquirer.

In the second case, my ernest but uninformed colleague is certain the ossuaries are the real McCoy and suggested I watch a documentary on them. The fundamental flaw in his argument that the bones contained are those of christ and his brother (otherwise known as Joshua and James - yes folks, JOSHUA, not Jesus, Yeshua being a Hebrew name NOT translating to Jesus) is the absolute lack of evidence such persons existed in ANY form.

I have watched the film and I have read a bunch of stuff on the making of it and the people in it and behind it. The Simcha character - the guy who supposedly discovered the ossuaries - has been widely shown to be bent to fraudulent representations in his subject matter.  There is no evidence to support the veracity of the claims those ossuaries contain anything other than regular old bones or that they date from ages ago. Carbon dating shows those boxes to be relatively young - i.e. 150 years according to some reports and 50 - 60 according to others.

More importantly, there is no reliable evidence to support the existence of the person in question, let alone his deity, although there is quite a bit - reams, in fact - that points to christianity's key character being just that: a character based on many that have gone before. If the person did not exist, then all questions related to those ossuaries are moot. The entirety of the christian religion relies on the existence of this 'person,' which is why every effort is made to support the myth. Without it, all is - and should be -lost. Click here for an article on the supposed discovery of the "holy foreskin." I know. Gross.

From a biological point of view, there is no way a virgin can conceive; once the deed is done, she's no longer a virgin, so that doesn't count (the bible says she was untouched, so I suppose one could argue artificial insemination but that's a stretch), or could be pregnant by virtue of a spirit; that idea is massively implausible.

In nature, there are organisms that reproduce asexually. In cases where females produce without benefit of males, the offspring are ALWAYS female.... This biological reality means that if he existed, christ was indeed human, created in the usual way by two human parents.

The idea of spirit impregnation is ridiculous, but would mean the resulting child would HAVE to be female, given a spirit cannot be understood to have a genetic structure. If it had, it would necessarily be human and not spirit and we're back to two human parents.

Mary, being female, could have only contributed an X chromosome to the equation. A male offspring would therefore be impossible, if one is willing to give any credence to the idea of a spirit. 

This biological reality means there is no possible way the bones in those ossuaries are anything other than human. For the record there is no biblical or extra-biblical explanation for who 'Mary" is or where she came from. The only small nod to her otherwise is when she disappears into thin air, conveniently, at the point in the story where she has outlived her usefulness.... For the record, the virgin birth story appears in only two of the four gospels and even in those, it is not consistent.

The four gospels were written many years after their key characters would have died, so none of the writers were eyewitnesses. Matthew was written more than 60 years later and the other three many years later than that.

Otherwise, the virgin birth myth is present in many, many mythologies, all pre-dating christianity, "many" meaning more than 25... But, as with Harry Potter, the presence of a book does not mean the story contained within is real in any sense.

Apart from the obvious impossibility of a spirit/human offspring, there is no credible evidence at all that the christ of the bible did exist, even if he were human. There were approximately 38 historians writing - prolifically - at the time; none of them mentioned this person. The only extra-biblical mention of a person with the title 'christ' (because that is a title, not a name) was by Josephus, who most scholars believe was a fraud and who did not live in the area purported to be the home turf of christ, so cannot be considered an eyewitness. Josephus's comments at the time run to "I hear there's this guy." That is hearsay related by someone who heard it from someone....

I appreciate people have faith but with faith comes a profound responsibility to understand what one has faith in. Believers should be driven to comprehend - they should be desperate for and focused on comprehension. They should know what their 'holy' books say - in detail. And they must understand how much of their books are scavenged from other, earlier mythologies.

They must NOT in any case rely on "proofs" that are anything but proof and are manufactured or manipulated. Believers should be brutally offended by the offerings of fraudsters who prey upon their beliefs - beliefs that are so strong believers will accept ANYTHING that looks to support their myth.

This is true in all religions. Muslims still believe their prophet was right in saying the world is a flat disk that is circled by the sun, despite the undeniable proof the earth is round and orbits the much larger (read; greater gravitational pull) sun. Belief in a flat earth is, however, no less ridiculous than belief in a talking snake, man-regurgitating fish, or flying horses.

In my case, coming from 10 generations of believers - ministers in every one of those generations and five in this one alone, and from a highly, culturally religious family - the NEED to comprehend lead me to research which lead me to atheism because biblical things do not and cannot stand to scrutiny.

I cannot have faith in a 'god' that waited until humans had been on the planet some 100,000 years before revealing itself, nor can I ignore excellent science that proves the earth is much older than 6000 years;  I cannot have faith in a 'god' that constantly destroys what it creates; I cannot have faith in a 'god' that orders the death by murder of (if the bible is to be understood) more than 2.5 million people; or who orders parents to kill their own children or the children of others; or causes bears to rip  children apart because they laugh at a man's baldness; or makes a law that a woman who is raped must marry her rapist; or decrees we must keep slaves and tells us how to treat them and to what point we can beat them; or who finds people's car keys, assists football teams to win games, but ignores the millions starving. The bible is immensely historically inaccurate and most of the great stories are, again on scrutiny, highly implausible.

There is a GREAT freedom in not living one's life in fear of a wrathful and vengeful 'god,' in terror for one's afterlife, and in knowing that humans are intrinsically and necessarily moral and need not cower before an angry, jealous, narcissistic 'god' who cannot ever be appeased by the beings it is reported to love and from whom it must have constant adulation but who, despite all that supplication, it constantly threatens with eternal near-death.