In today’s scientific era is it reasonable to believe Mary, a virgin, gave birth to the Son of God, Jesus? Well, it depends. It depends on a decision (or decisions) you’ve likely already made. My argument for the virgin birth is an argument of coherence, or an internal argument. In other words, belief in the virgin birth is absolutely reasonable within a theistic worldview. It is absolutely ridiculous in an atheistic worldview. Miracles don’t happen within an atheistic worldview.
So yes, it is reasonable to believe in the virgin birth, as well as other miracles, if you believe in God. However, this does not mean the virgin birth, or any other miracle, has occurred. The fact that it is reasonable doesn’t mean it happened. It’s reasonable, in a Christian worldview, to believe Jesus will return tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean it is going to happen.
So, what do you base your belief on? My belief in the virgin birth is predicated on a few other beliefs that I think there is a stronger case for. My line of reasoning would go something like this:
I believe there is very strong evidence that God exists.
I believe there is good evidence that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead.
Jesus treated the Bible as the Word of God.
I believe the Bible is the Word of God and therefore true.
The Bible claims Jesus was born of a virgin.
I believe Jesus was born of a virgin.
Like I said, if you don’t believe premise one then of course you don’t believe my conclusion – and I don’t blame you! Some of our beliefs are based on other beliefs. This is true for all worldviews. So long as the beliefs are coherent with one another, they are perfectly reasonable. Of course, if premise one is proven false (i.e. God turns out not to be real) then the whole web of (coherent) beliefs falls apart.
Christians should definitely believe in the virgin birth as it is central to Christ’s later atoning work on the cross for our sins. The fact that he was born of a virgin and “of the Holy Spirit” makes him uniquely qualified to atone for our sins.
Question: If you were alive at the time, and knew for a fact that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth, how would you prove it?
It surprises me how many people are content to say, “Science has proved that the Big Bang happened about 14 Billion years ago. We already know the answer to where did the universe come from?” Despite the number of scientists who are now jumping ship from the Big Bang theory, let’s assume it’s true. 14 Billion years ago the universe rapidly expanded and evolution began to work its “magic”. We’re still left with the question, where did it come from? Philosophically, it seems to me, there are only three possible solutions:
The universe is a brute fact.
The universe came from nothing.
The universe was created.
Bertrand Russel famously believed option number one. The universe just is, and that’s all. The universe is the first cause; the unmoved mover. The universe is eternal. One philosophical problem with this view is that one component of the universe is time. To say that the universe is eternal is to say that time is eternal. An infinite amount of time has passed. How could this be? If there was an infinite amount of time between today and eternity past, how would we ever arrive at the present? Yet, we have arrived at the present. Empirical evidence that led to the Big Bang theory would have us believe that the universe began, anyway.
So, the universe began. Now, if you don’t believe in God, you must concede that the universe began from nothing. Some have tried to escape this reality by postulating the “multiverse theory.” This theory, more or less, states that there is an infinite number of universes popping in and out of existence, so of course we ended up in this one. With an infinite amount of tries, eventually a universe like ours will appear. This theory fails for at least three reasons.
You’ve only pushed the question back further and made it infinitely harder to explain. Instead of the question being “Where did this one universe come from?” it has now become “Where did an infinite number of universes come from?”
There is absolutely no evidence to even suggest there are more than one universes. Not to mention, historically, the definition of the universe includes EVERYTHING there is. If you believe the multiverse theory, you aren’t believing in multiple universes after all, only a larger, infinite universe.
If there’s an infinite amount of possibilities in the multiverse theory, is there a possible universe where God exists? Could it be ours? Doesn’t God necessarily exist in all of them, if he exists in one?
Let’s say you still believe the universe came from nothing. You could never prove this. It is by definition an argument from nothing. You would have to show that something can come from nothing.
This brings us to the 3rd option: the cosmological argument. The cosmological argument goes something like this:
The universe began.
Things that begin have causes.
The universe is made of space, matter, and time.
Therefore, the cause of the universe must be spaceless, immaterial, and timeless. The cause must be personal since it chose to cause the universe.
Traditionally, we call this cause God. For Christians reading this, let’s not overplay our hands here. This does not mean that Jesus rose from the dead, or that the Bible is God’s word. However, the cosmological argument is the best explanation for the beginning of the universe that I have heard to date. If you disagree, you must tear down my four points and erect in their place something more logical.
When I was a kid, my sister and I shared a bunk-bed. Being the younger sibling, I had to sleep on the bottom bunk. I remember lying on my back, staring up at the bottom of her bunk, and my mind would wander off into what has been called “lala land”. Out there in “lala land” I would ask the silliest questions out-loud to my older, and wiser sister. The line of questioning would always go something like this:
Me: Who created these beds?
Her: People did with wood and tools.
Me: Where did the wood come from?
Her: From trees.
Me: Where did the trees come from?
Even children catch on to the regress behind everything. But where does the buck stop? Does it stop? The question eventually raised is: Where did God come from? Who created God?
With the rise of the so-called “new atheists,” this question has re-surfaced as a serious assault against those with faith. However, this question is quite elementary. The simple answer is that God wasn’t created. He is the Creator of everything – including time itself. He is not bound by time and does not have a beginning, or an end for that matter. To be sure, if an atheist is arguing against a god that had a beginning, I would gladly join her. The God of the Bible had no beginning.
If you think this is a cop-out, I would ask you: If not God, what was the first cause of everything? Modern science has moved us beyond the idea that the universe itself is eternal, so what then is? You may believe that everything came from nothing, but I think it is at the very least just as likely that there is an un-created Creator that has a plan for his creation. I hope you’ll give this some consideration and I would love to hear your thoughts.
As a young Christian I had many questions. I’m so thankful that at the time, I had mentors who welcomed any and all of my questions – even if they didn’t have the answers. Most of my silly questions were met with a grin and an honest answer. If they didn’t know the answer I would often be directed to a website or book that might have the answer.
Somewhere along this road of asking question after question, the inevitable happened. I had a question for which I couldn’t find an answer. This obviously led me to doubt. I’m not talking about the kind of doubt that says, “Oh well, I guess I will just have to take this one on faith,” (I’ve never liked that response). I’m talking about the kind of doubt that says, “Is any of this true?” The stress of this doubt was amplified by the fact that I am (and was) a minister in the local church.
The enemy, Satan, has a way of tempting us toward alienation in our doubts. What I mean is, we feel as if we cannot speak of our doubts to other Christians for fear of being deemed “unfaithful”. Perhaps, we will be told we don’t have enough faith. What does that even mean, by the way? This is right where the enemy wants us to be. Alone. Doubting God.
The reality is: we will all have doubts. Whether we think of the tough question ourselves, or hear it from someone attempting to talk us out of faith, we will encounter tough questions. My prayer is that you will not go through this alone. My prayer is that you will allow yourself to have these doubts and honestly seek answers. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to have these doubts that I was able to find the answer to my questions. We serve a big God, he can handle our doubts. Not only can he handle it, but I believe he wants us to doubt. He wants us to doubt in the sense that we seek answers. So I encourage you, ask questions. Seek answers. Ask for help. If you want recommendations on where to search for answers, or if you would like to ask me for my answers, as always, feel free to ask!