I’ve had several conversations about Christianity in the past where the other person wanted to point out how “ridiculous” Christianity is; it seems like the virgin birth story about Jesus always comes up. The idea that Jesus could have been born of a virgin seems so ludicrous to them that it strains all credulity; obviously a virgin birth is something only found in myths and fairy tales, something children believe but not something to be believed by any rational grown-up adult. As a Christian, though, the idea of a virgin birth does not bother me, there are much bigger problems we have to deal with before we get to Jesus’ birth.If you start with the presupposition that miracles cannot happen, then any miracle, big or small, is ridiculous and a major barrier to belief. Click To Tweet
The earliest claim in the Bible concerns the creation of the universe. That there was nothing, and God then created everything where nothing previously existed. This miracle, that everything in our gigantic universe sprung up out of nothing, is not only a problem the Christian must deal with, but a problem everyone has to grapple with. All our modern scientific evidence suggests that at a time in the distant past, the universe had a beginning. Science itself suggests that everything sprung up out of nothing. However, scientists have struggled to find a natural law or mechanism to explain how this could have happened. It seems that the natural world cannot give a satisfactory explanation for everything coming from nothing.
The Bible also claims that God created all life, up to and including humans. Our modern scientific evidence suggests that in the distant past no life existed in the universe, and that out of this non-life, life suddenly appeared. However, scientists struggle to find a natural explanation for life, let alone the enormous diversity of life we see in the world around us. Not to mention the emergence of consciousness itself, which we struggle to explain if prior to the existence of consciousness, no consciousness existed.
While scientists struggle to grapple with scientific facts which natural laws cannot explain, the Christian doesn’t bat an eye at these ideas, as we know these were supernatural acts by God. In fact, the Christian reads in the Bible numerous miracles performed by God throughout the Old Testament, so that by the time they get to the New Testament and read about the birth of Jesus, the virgin birth seems almost a throwaway concept, a miracle which pales in comparison to the work God has already done. As a tactic during an argument, bringing up the “ridiculousness” of the virgin birth with a Christian is ineffective; Christians believe in miracles and know that God has done much greater things. If God has created everything out of nothing, He can certainly allow a virgin to give birth.
The issue here is less about the particular miracle of the virgin birth and more about the existence of miracles themselves. If you start with the presupposition that miracles cannot happen, then any miracle, big or small, is ridiculous and a major barrier to belief. The Christian does not start off with any such presupposition. In fact, the Christian position related to miracles should be that miracles may happen, but each event must be evaluated on its own merits to determine if it is natural or supernatural. The sun rising each morning can be explained through natural processes, so the Christian can be content believing the sunrise is not a miracle. However, the existence of the sun (and the rest of the universe around it) when nothing previously existed cannot be explained through natural means, and so it is reasonable for the Christian to believe the existence has a supernatural explanation (and is therefore a miracle). The Christian in this case has the most reasonable position, one which allows the Christian to follow the evidence where it leads. Beginning with the conclusion already made (that miracles cannot occur) prevents you from following the evidence where it leads if the evidence points a direction you’ve already decided you don’t want to go.