When someone first hears, “born of a virgin”, it raises the specter of whether Mary was truly a virgin. I know a man who is convinced she ran out back with another lover, got herself pregnant, and made the whole thing up.
Sounds reasonable in the twenty-first century. But we know today, a woman could be artificially inseminated or even made pregnant in-vitro, and never need intercourse to make it happen, and very little social stigma would apply. She could find any number of support groups and programs to help her with the pregnancy and thereafter.
In-vitro of course, didn’t exist in first century Nazareth. If a young Jewish girl turned up pregnant during betrothal, the very situation experienced by Mary, the law allowed her husband to have her stoned to death. Harsh, but since this didn’t happen, we have to ask: Why would Joseph relent in a culture that strongly imposed and enforced such things? The record says he was visited by an angel and given the “inside scoop” on the pregnancy.
Mentioned in another essay: Science has literally room-fulls of information on the process of human procreation. The ultimate conclusion, without technology to assist, male and female parents are required to make a baby. Any discussion of a virgin birth flies in the face of all known data to the contrary. This was true of the first century also – everyone knew the male-female kinds, including people, required a male and female parent to procreate. This is why “born of a virgin” is anathema to common expectations. I’m stating the obvious, for a reason.
Yet people believe. They believe in a virgin birth with all their heart.
If God’s spirit could overshadow Mary (Matt 1:18-20, Luke 1:35) and conceive a child, what were the mechanics in play? Clearly Mary provided a human ovum and 23 genetic chromosomes, and her genetic lineage puts her in line for King David’s throne. Joseph’s line, however, was cut off from the throne. Only a child of Mary would be eligible to be King of the Jews, not a child of Joseph.
Physical ovum, proper (foretold) lineage, check.
Where did the male gamete material come from? We need another 23 chromosomes to top-up the total. Clearly this was a product of God’s creative hand. He didn’t have to create anything new, just assemble a gamete from existing materials, configured with the proper information to impregnate Mary. What was the source of this information? The mind of God – the same source as the information in Adam’s original genetic material. And isn’t Jesus Christ called the “last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45) in the very context of God’s creative acts?
1 Cor 15:45 “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”
Both were products of God’s personal, deliberate handiwork.
What does this mean? God intended to use DNA as a path to enter history. This was his chosen mechanism to bring about the Virgin Birth and join humanity in a specific time and place, as he foretold through the prophets.
How long did God have this plan in place? Did he cook it up after the Fall of Man? Clearly he needed a way to redeem mankind. Clearly his chosen method was to enter humanity and give his life for his own creation. When was this decided?
Rev 13:8 “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
At the foundation of the creation itself, this was part of the Grand Architecture, not an afterthought. This is how we know DNA has foundational place in the architecture, not a product of chance process or tinkering.
I interacted with a “wannabee” minister at a kid’s camp who told me he believed “Adam” was just the first transitional form of an ape to man. He believed DNA is the product of blind process over millions of years, not a deliberately designed biochemical mechanism. In other words, he believes the words of scientists who weren’t there, and have no evidence to support their claims (they cannot go back in time).
Which of these models better fits the observation of God interacting with Mary? And if God knew he would need to interact with humanity, through DNA, at the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) how would an ape-like creature fit into this plan? The plain fact is, it wouldn’t fit at all. God designed Adam. DNA is an expression of God’s mind. It holds detailed information about the physical creature it describes. Every day, scientists learn more about the breathtaking information content in the DNA molecule.
God constantly warned the Israelites not to intermarry with other people groups. Some have asked why – but knowing how God intended to use DNA at some point in the future, isn’t it clear he used the Hebrews to self-contain the genetic material in their own bloodline? He foretold the lineage of Christ (from the line of Abraham and Jacob, and from the House of David). In order to preserve these lineages, the Jews cannot intermarry and muddy the genetic water. If they did, how could we possibly know if Jesus had arrived according to the foretold lineage, and fulfill this prophecy of old?
More to this, and I’ll discuss deeper with and essay on Nephilim – but we are also told that a high priest can have no blemishes (Lev 21:18). Also a lamb can have no blemishes (Ex. 12:5). Jesus was foretold to fulfill both of these roles (Hebrews 5:6, 6:20), (John 1:29).
How can God guarantee Jesus will have no blemishes, especially if born to a human? All humans, by the first century, had some amount of mutations in their genes. The answer is in the genetic material God personally supplied through the male gamete he introduced. The genetic material would be pristine, just like Adam’s had been pristine. If this is mated with Mary’s, geneticists tell us the good genes in the God-provided chromosomes will cancel out any mutations in Mary’s chromosomes, and the result is a blemish-free offspring. How cool is that?
But let’s imagine the youth minister above is correct, and Adam was nothing more than a transitioning apelike creature. His DNA is transient, not pristine at all, in fact inferior to modern-day humans. How will God, four thousand years later, manufacture the genetic material to override all blemishes in Mary’s genes? We could say, “he’s God, of course he can do that.” But what about the architecture, the design, the message God is modeling to all of mankind?
What does it say of a God who claims in Genesis 1 that the Earth and Cosmos were formed recently, for scientists to arbitrarily disagree with God on this, and then we manufacture a subtext-like narrative as to how God pulled off the virgin birth using ape-like DNA? What kind of designer/architect would rely on such things? The very injection of evolution into the conversation means God is not a very good designer. Yet what he did through Mary, so perfectly dovetails with hundreds of prophecies, and the rules for no-blemishes, there is no doubt God is a careful planner.
The designer/architect of the cosmos knew from the beginning he would have to personally enter history through a virgin, and made deliberate, calculated plans to accomplish this. DNA is a product of his mind, to carry out his plans, over the vast stretch of time between Adam and Christ.
God used prophets to foretell his plans, and God fulfilled those plans in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and a virgin birth. We can trust God knew what he wanted, knows what he’s doing, and is in complete control.
Is God awesome, or what?
Agrarian knowledge permeated the culture at the time of Christ’s birth. This is important, because everyone knew it was impossible for a female of a male/female kind to have an offspring without the male involved. Today of course, with many artificial means to inseminate a woman, a virgin birth is technologically feasible. Not so in the first century.
Scientists now know much of the mechanics of human conception, how the ovum and sperm meet, do their dance and conceive. They have live pictures and video of the process (at a highly detailed level), and of the baby growing in the womb.
As an aside, in speaking with a minister some years ago, he believed God “used” evolution to bring about mankind. This view misses a very important aspect of DNA. What is the purpose of DNA?
Evolutionary thinkers see DNA only as a passive vehicle (DNA reposits and accumulates information over generations, but has no active role in shaping the future of a population). It would be easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of the evolutionary discussion, where DNA accumulates functionality over time, eventually arriving to the present-day mankind.
But is this really the purpose of DNA? Capture useful features as the creature or population needs them? Growing “organically” rather than a product of design and architecture? By “organically” perhaps we could use “stochastically” – new genetic material is simply accumulated and bolted-on tot the existing genome.
But what if this isn’t the case at all? What if God built every genome in pristine, highly-adaptable form? Let’s say this uber-adaptation operates like a Swiss-Army knife. Or a Popeil Pocket Fisherman. It has all the gadgets and whistles built-in before you ever need them.
Contrast this to the evolutionary model – where functionality rises with the need. The problem with this: It doesn’t bear itself out in reality. When a need arises, it can be a population-threatening need, requiring near-term if not immediate response. The touted evolutionary mechanism is too slow to respond this way. In the end, the functionality always has to precede the need, or there won’t be anytime to enable/activate it before the population dies.
What we have before us, is the end-game. The final results of many years of migration, multiplicaiton, specialization etc. The animals settled into habitats they were already designed for.