I don’t know about you, but this is the time of year when I get all kinds of amusing messages affirming the literal accuracy of the Christian myth of a virgin birth 2000 years ago. When someone tells me that they have Compelling Historical Evidence for the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, as they so often do, I pay attention, because it is always so enlightening. Not enlightening in the sense that they convince me their beliefs are reasonable, but enlightening because they always show off how weak their evidence is. Here’s the initial puffery I was sent.
Here are some historical evidences for the virgin birth of Jesus Christ:
A physician and world-class historian documented it
Modern archaeology affirms it
An agnostic professor of mythology is convinced
Old Testament prophets predicted it centuries in advance
The earliest Christians believed it universally
Oooh. Well, gosh. An authority and a whole scientific discipline have said it’s so, to the point that it convinced an agnostic? Must be true. Until you read a little further.
A physician and world-class historian documented it. And that physician was…Luke, the author of the gospel of Luke! That’s a little bit circular, ain’t it? That’s not independent confirmation at all, it’s saying that the guy who promulgated the myth says the myth is true, therefore it is true. It’s like saying that a war hero and super-genius documented the truth of Scientology, and then revealing that you’re talking about L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology must be true because L. Ron Hubbard said it was true. Would he lie?
The best part of this story is that the author claims that Luke wrote the gospel while Mary was still alive (which is already improbable, since Luke was written sometime around 80-100AD, so even if God had raped a child to father Jesus, she would have been extremely old), but has to admit that they really know nothing about when Mary died. So he speculates that he had the opportunity to interview Mary, and therefore he did.
If Mary was still alive, he, a doctor of medicine, investigated the story of the virgin birth by hearing it from Mary’s own lips.
Beautiful. Likewise, if Sasquatch actually existed, I, a professor of biology, investigated the story of Bigfoot by actually tracking down a gigantic ape living in the Pacific Northwest. This is evidence that Sasquatch exists.
Modern archaeology affirms it. Sadly, the only thing mentioned in this section is that one 19th century archaeologist, Sir William Ramsay, believed the New Testament was true. I don’t usually regard 150 year old tours of the Holy Land to constitute “modern archaeology”. Otherwise, no evidence is actually given, other than that “Old guy says so!”
An agnostic professor of mythology is convinced. Aaaaand…that agnostic professor of mythology was none other than C.S. Lewis. And that, my friends, is the rest of the story.
Old Testament prophets predicted it centuries in advance. <groan> Seriously? Old book says the prophet will be born of a virgin, addition to old book says their preferred guy is the prophet, and to confirm that, book has words that say he was a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy, therefore he had to have been a virgin.
Are all their evidences going to consist of loops of circular logic? I prophesy that this will be so.
The earliest Christians believed it universally. Therefore, every religion is literally true, because they all have bits of dogma that are believed universally by early advocates. Joseph Smith actually did receive a set of golden plates from the angel Moroni, because early Mormons all believed it was true.
You know, even if I were inclined to accept the mythology of Christianity — and in my youth, I was, since I was brought up in it — that the true believers are so credulous and so accepting of patently bad evidence would tend to drive me towards disbelief.