Re: Virginal conception (was Re: [asa] Lawrence Krauss Defends New Atheism)

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Jun 29 2009 - 15:58:26 EDT

The idea of a virgin birth (s.s., i.e. a miraculous birth, not just
the conception) runs afoul of both the general pattern of very sparing
use of miracles and the specific case of Jesus as experiencing
ordinary to below ordinary human conditions. It thus ties into the
question of ID versus TE expectations of seeing obvious evidence of
God's action.

> Those who believe that Mary is "ever virgin" think that Jesus had no full
> siblings.  Thus his brothers & sisters mentioned in, e.g., Mk.6:3 would have
> been cousins or children of Joseph by an earlier marriage.  A positive
> argument sometimes given for this view is that Jesus would not have given
> his mother into the care of the Beloved Disciple in Jn.19:26-27 if she had
> had other sons.

The standard response is that the brothers are identified as not
believing in Jesus until after his resurrection, whereas John was a) a
believer, b) actually on hand at the time of Jn. 19:26-27, c) at least
generally thought to be a close relative. Not that these
considerations are overwhelming, just pointing out the response. If I
remember correctly, Mt. 1:25 would suggest that Joseph and Mary had
normal marital sexual relations after the birth of Jesus.

The fact that a miraculous birth seems out of character is more
persuasive for me than the arguments either way that rely on somewhat
indirect inferences from those passages. Additionally, the virgin
birth and the perpetual virginity positions readily connect to
mariolatry (to be distinguished from appropriate respect) and/or
overly ascetic favoring of celibacy. This raises suspicions that
those positions might stem more from outside considerations than from
the text.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Mon Jun 29 15:59:15 2009

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