Posts Tagged ‘theory’

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The virgin conception is a highly scrutinized event within the nativity story. As with other biblical miracles, the virgin conception has been explained by a whole host of conspiracy theories devoid of actual supernatural cause. Was the story copied from other pagan mythologies? Copied from Old Testament scripture? Was Christ simply the result of a shameful affair, the virgin conception concocted to hide His illegitimate origins? Is Jesus the result of an extremely rare but possible asexual reproduction? The theories are abundant, yet all try to find a way to rationalize the story without consideration that what is written in Matthew and Luke is actually plausible.

Even in the church, skepticism is present, spreading, slowly but surely. Bishop John Shelby Spong of the Episcopalian Church believes the virgin birth as written in Matthew and Luke is not literal truth.[1] Protestant theologian Wesley Wildman of Boston University believes that Jesus must have gotten his Y chromosome from Joseph, so what He received from God was more spiritual than physical.[2] Anglican Bishop John Arthur Thomas Robinson, former Dean of Trinity College in Cambridge shares similar beliefs, “… we are not bound to think of the Virgin Birth as a physical event in order to believe that Jesus’s whole life is ‘of God.’”[3] Doubt is clearly creeping into the nativity story and it is leading to explanations of spiritual analogy instead of literal acceptance. These compromises on the scripture all stem from doubt in something that seems too impossible to be true.

Yet, we all seem to overlook that it was just as impossible and hard to believe then in the first century as it is today. Luke and Matthew seem to have trouble writing of it. Even Mary noted of its impossibility when she was standing in front of the angel telling her it would happen! And it was additionally a target of skepticism then just as it is now, being doubted by the Pharisees and the Greek philosopher Celsus himself, among others. So we should not assume that skepticism of the virgin birth belongs only to a more modern and intelligent generation of people. Doubt was present right from the beginning, across two thousand years, to the present.

Here I will present the most popular arguments against the virgin birth that have emerged over these thousands of years. It is my hope that after exploring these issues you will see that they do not stand to refute the story of the virgin birth. In the end, you will find that the only way to deny the virgin conception is to deny the supernatural all together.

PAGAN MYTH THEORY

The most modern rebuttal to the virgin birth is a conspiracy that the gospel writers copied the story from other pagan mythologies. The train of thought is that only two of the gospels mention the virgin birth, and of these two there are shocking similarities to other mythologies commonly known in the first century. The motivation being that Matthew and Luke wanted to better promote Jesus to the gentiles, and giving Him attributes that resembled popular pagan mythologies would give Christianity more appeal.

Dr. Gerald Larue Professor Emeritus of Archaeology and Biblical Studies at USC, writes, “Sexual relationships between divine beings were common in hero stories. The Greek god Zeus impregnated women to produce heroes like Hercules, Perseus, and Alexander the Great. The god Apollo had intercourse with human females, who bore such heroes as Asclepius, Pythagoras, Plato and the emperor Augustus. Some of the women were said to have been virgins. The use of mythological symbolism was part of the first century literary tradition. The gospel writers simply used it to exalt Jesus.”[4] Even scientists like Dr. Aarathi Prasad, a former cancer researcher, have an opinion on the subject, “Hers [Mary’s] is the best known story of a virgin birth in the world, but it is by no means the only one. From the mothers of Buddha to Genghis Khan, most cultures tell the tale of a maiden untouched by man who gives birth.”[5] Other theories refer to influences from Greco-Roman deity (Perseus- Romulus, Mithras, Apollonius of Tyana), Egyptian deity (Horus, Osiris), and even oriental religions (Buddha, Krishna, and son of Zoroaster).

Right off the bat a discrepancy should be easily recognized here. How could the nativity story have so much in common with mythology from Greece, Rome, Egypt and even the orient? The nativity story is not that long! Most certainly not long enough to be capable of borrowing from all these other religions. Furthermore, even if intense similarities were to be found, that doesn’t in any way prove that the gospel writers copied from them. In fact, to make such a claim would be a genetic fallacy, the error of trying to disprove a belief by tracing it to its source. Regardless, an examination of each one shows that there is hardly any comparison to be made!

Alexander the Great: Born of King Philip II of Macedonia and Queen Olympia,[6] there are no records of Alexander being conceived from a non-sexual divine source.

Apollonius of Tyana: Apollonius was born after his mother fell asleep in a meadow where swans began to dance around her causing her to give birth prematurely. But more importantly, the story of Apollonius was written down no earlier than AD 217, well after the gospel accounts were already written down and being circulated.[7] Thus no claim of copying can be placed on Matthew or Luke.

Buddha: To declare the story Jesus was copied from Buddha is incredibly hard to substantiate considering the histories of Buddha are contradicting, convoluted and written hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years after the supposed events took place. For example, research when Buddha was born and you’ll get a wide range of answers ranging from 1700 BC to 400 BC. Regardless, the details of Buddha’s birth are not similar to Jesus in that Buddha’s mother Maya was a married woman to which there is no original declaration of her being a virgin. Historical scholars maintain Buddha’s birth has no hints of any abnormality. A tradition from the first century did emerge later in which Maya is declared a virgin and became pregnant after dreaming of a white elephant.[8] Hardly comparable to the gospel account.

Genghis Khan: Was born in AD1155,[9] thus no one can claim the gospel writers copied from a man not born for another one thousand years.

Hercules: The myth of Hercules is that Zeus fell in love with a married woman named Alceme, they had sexual relations, and Hercules was conceived.[10] Though Alceme had not yet slept with her husband (her cousin), the encounter between her and Zeus was sexual in nature, and therefore in contrast with the gospel narrative. It should additionally be noted that Alceme slept with another God, Tiresias, at a later date.[11] Other story details bring incredible contrast to the gospel narratives.

Horus and Osiris: This one is slightly more complicated because many pharaohs were named Osiris and Horus after the gods Osiris and Horus. Egyptian mythology holds that Pharaohs were thought be the result of their mother in union with a God.[12] This however would make the mothers non-virgins. The wife’s encounter with a God is sexual in Egyptian tradition, were as the account from Matthew and Luke is not. Even the mythologies of the original gods doesn’t match up; Horus was not born of a virgin. In fact one depiction is that of his mother Isis in falcon form hovering over the erect penis of Osiris. Scholars agree that Egyptian mythology maintains Isis had sexual intercourse with Osiris.[13]

Krishna: Krishna was born as the eighth son of princess Devaki. She was apparently impregnated by her husband god Vasudeva via “mental transmission.” And though one can argue the conception was non-sexual, the fact remains that Devaki had already had seven children and was therefore not a virgin.

Mithras: Mithras was born as an adult, not a child. Mithras was also born out of rock, not a virgin mother.[14] More importantly, the birth stories of Mithras come AFTER the gospels were being circulated.[15] Therefore, one cannot accuse Christianity of borrowing from it.

Perseus: Perseus was not really virginally conceived at all, but was the result of sexual intercourse between the god Zeus and Danaë. Zeus had previously turned himself into a shower of gold to reach the imprisoned damsel.[16] This is in high contrast to the gospel narrative.

Romulus: Romulus was born one of two twins to the virgin Rhea Silva after having sexual intercourse with Mars, and were thrown into the river Tiberinus where they were rescued by a she-wolf that reared them.[17] Though Rhea Silva may have been a virgin, she wasn’t considered one after being impregnated by Mars. Thus, it is not comparable to the gospel narrative.

Zoroaster: Like Buddha, Zoroaster is difficult to pin point as well, living any where from 1,700 to 600 BC. The details of the conception are vague and can only be sourced to a time after Christianity had already originated.[18]

To claim Matthew and Luke copied from pagan myths either comes from a lack of historical knowledge of these other mythological characters, or from a direct intent to mislead others. Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, AKA Pope Benedict XVI, writes, “Extra-biblical stories of this kind differ profoundly in vocabulary and imagery from the story of the birth of Jesus. The main contrast consists in the fact that in pagan texts the godhead almost always appears as a fertilizing, procreative power, thus under a more or less sexual aspect hence in a physical sense as the ‘father’ of the savior-child. As we have seen, nothing of this sort appears in the New Testament: the conception of Jesus is a new creation, not begetting by God. God does not become the biological father of Jesus.”[19]

Reverend Raymond E. Brown of the Roman Catholic Church writes, “In short, there is no clear example of virginal conception in world or pagan religions that plausibly could have given first-century Jewish Christians the idea of the virginal conception of Jesus.”[20]

Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, a chemist and national chess champion, writes, “The earliest Christians were Jews who abhorred paganism (see Acts 14), so would be the last people to derive Christianity from paganism.”[21]

Jean-Guenolé-Marie Daniélou , a Jesuit theologian, historian, cardinal and member of the Academie Francaise, writes, “… such attempts (to compare the Christian nativity to pagan mythology) are foiled by the absence of any precise element of comparison.”[22]

In summary here are some main points to consider regarding this poor theory:

A.         There is no proof that first century Christians knew of, or were at any point exposed to these pagan myths and stories.

B.         If they were known, what is the attraction to them, or motivation to borrow from them? Especially considering the NT’s aversion to anything pagan.

C.        When extra-biblical stories are compared to the virginal conception from Matthew and Luke there is arguably no similarities what so ever.

With these points considered, it becomes very clear that this theory has no legs to stand on and should be abandoned by skeptics.

COPIED FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

Another theory holds that Matthew and Luke didn’t copy but pagan mythologies, but instead copied from the Old Testament. The motivation is the same for the pagan mythologies in that they wanted to make Christ more appealing. But instead of making Him more appealing to gentiles, they instead wanted to make Him appealing to Jews. And what better way to do this then to connect the nativity story with other Old Testament stories and attach a prophecy to the virgin conception.

The first concept of appealing to Jews was to copy from the stories of Isaac and Samson in which through the miracle of sexual reproduction God makes the conception of these heroes possible, much like Jesus. This theory is easily refuted though. Mary was a virgin, unlike Isaac and Samson’s mother. She was also very young whereas the other mothers were very old. The miracle is thus of a completely different nature since the other mother’s pregnancies were miracles in that they were too old to conceive. Mary’s pregnancy, conversely, was a miracle in that she was a virgin. Additionally, the other mothers conceived through sexual intercourse between two humans, with God only making the conception possible. Mary on the other hand had no sexual intercourse, and was made pregnant via the Holy Spirit. The nature of these miracles is different enough to refute the notion that Matthew and Luke fabricated the story from Old Testament scripture.

The second concept is that of prophecy. Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 as prophecy of the virgin conception: “Therefore the Lord himself will give youa sign: The virginwill conceive and give birth to a son, andwill call him Immanuel” (NIV). Since this prophecy already had a historical fulfillment unrelated to Christ, many argue that Matthew was forcing prophecy on the nativity to convince Jews of Christ’s authenticity. Many scholars, still to this day, argue on the meaning and usage of this OT text by Matthew.

The Hebrew word used for virgin in Isaiah 7:14 is “almah.” When translated into Greek in the Septuagint, the word used is “parthenos.” “Parthenos” can be translated to “virgin,” but it can just as easily mean “young woman.”[23] Another Greek word “neanis,” could have been used and has closer meaning to “almah.” But it was not used, so the Septuagint translator interpreted “almah” to represent “parthenos.”[24] Others believe virgin is an accurate translation for “almah” since it is used in many other places in Old Testament for young women that were unmarried (virgin) women.[25] Many theologians argue why the Septuagint translator(s) used “parthenos.” But whether Isaiah 7:14 pertains to a woman being a “virgin” or “young,” it should be noted that Mary was both, so there is no contradiction no matter which way you put it. The issue is not so much as whether the woman mentioned was a virgin or not, but more so, the reason for Matthew’s use of it.

Some theologians believe that the virginal conception was so unexpected that it forced Matthew and Luke to interpret Isaiah 7:14 in a way very different from how Jewish tradition did.[26] Thus, Isaiah 7:14 is used out of context to be assimilated to the virgin conception of Christ. This is troubling for many to accept. However, there is another approach to this issue. The literal prophecy is directly linked with a past historical event, the birth of Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, which is directly followed by disasters in Israel. This has led other theologians to counter that Matthew is using the prophecy within context, but that we’re reading the wrong part of the prophecy. The purpose of Isaiah 7:14 (when read in context with 7:13) is that there will be a descendant of David that is a “sign.”[27] This prophecy should not be used to “prove” the virgin birth that fulfills the prophecy, but instead to indicate a parallel with offspring from the lineage of David born unto a “young” or “virgin” woman. After all, Isaiah 7:14 says the child would be named Immanuel, and Jesus is named… well… Jesus. Yet there is a parallel meaning between what the names mean; Immanuel meaning “God is with us,” and Jesus meaning “Savior.” So it can be argued the reference to Isaiah is not for fulfillment, but to establish a parallel.

Danielou concludes, “…the point of the reference to Isaiah 7 in Matthew is to support the central statement of the episode that Jesus is to be of the house of David… It does not base faith in the virgin birth on the fact that it is the fulfillment of a prophecy; on the contrary, it provides a Christian exegesis of the prophecy in the light of the virgin birth.”[28]

Further refutation of the original conspiracy in general can occur if we put ourselves in Matthew and Luke’s shoes for a moment, as first century Jewish men. Let us hypothetically say we were going to fabricate Jesus’ birth story to make it contextual to the Old Testament and Jewish tradition. They would have said the Messiah came down from heaven, or was the Son of David through Joseph. Yet, they went with virginal conception from Mary, a woman from the lineage of David. This is not expected. Clearly the gospel writers did not fabricate the virgin conception from Old Testament scripture.

LATER ADDITIONS

Both the pagan mythology theory and the theory of borrowing from the OT have a similarity in that they are additions to the gospel accounts. This leads to another theory that the virgin conception (and nativity story overall) was added long after the gospels were originally written. The theory proposes a multitude of motivations, some pertaining to the two previous theories of trying to make the story of Christ more appealing. Other motivations lie in trying to force sexual restrictions on men and women through lessons learned from the virgin birth. The case to me made is, why else would such an important story be found in only two gospel accounts and yet nowhere else in the New Testament. Since the books were written in the second half of the first century, it is argued they could have been added at any point during this time. Some believe that Mary was never even considered a virgin until the middle ages!

However, there is strong evidence that the gospels were written prior to the Pauline epistles in 70AD. In fact, famous archaeologist Dr. William F. Albright writes, “There is no reason to believe that any Gospels were written later than A.D. 70,”[29] Additionally, the composition of the infancy gospels in Matthew and Luke is archaic, Judaic, Old Testament character that preserved the first Judeo-Christian community traditions. And furthermore, the virginal conception doctrine is scriptural and affirmed by early Christians such as Ignatius (d. AD c. 108), Justin Martyr (c. 100 – c. 165), Irenaeus (c. 130 – c. 200), and Tertullian (c. 150 – c. 212).[30] Lastly, by the 3rd century or after, the gospel accounts were so wide spread it would be literally impossible to track down every single one to add in the nativity story.

French theologian Rene Laurentin writes, “A closer investigation of the prehistory of the oral traditions or written sources of the gospels reveals that there is no reason for considering the infancy gospels as late.”[31] Indeed, considering that the text is consistent with that of first century writing, it is consistent with the rest of the gospel text all dated prior to AD70, it would be impossible to add to every copy at a later date and was affirmed by first and second century Christians, it is unquestionably accurate to say the nativity story is not a late addition to the gospel accounts.

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER… AND RECORD

Ok, so maybe we can conclude the gospel writers didn’t copy or add in the nativity story later. But that still doesn’t prove the virgin conception. How do we really know Mary was a virgin? Maybe Joseph and Mary had pre-marital relations? Maybe Mary had an affair? This is of course neglecting the gospel accounts themselves.

Here is what we first need to establish. The gospels are clear that Mary was committed to Joseph. Matthew writes that Joseph was “husband of Mary” (1:16) and that she was “his wife” (1:20, 24) Luke says she was his “betrothed” even at the time of birth (1:27, 2:5). Therefore to suggest Mary had an affair with someone else presents a significant obstacle: Why did Joseph stay with her? Even in today’s culture that is a tall order, but in first century Jewish culture, that is unacceptable. There is no way Joseph would stay with Mary if she was pregnant with another man’s child. There would be at the very least be a divorce. Yet Joseph stays with Mary, clearly indicating there was no affair.

This leads the argument to another possible theory that Joseph and Mary had sex and conceived Jesus. This isn’t as shocking, but it contradicts the gospel accounts of Mary being a virgin. In addition, It was not Joseph who begot him (Mt 1:16, 18-25, Lk 1:31, 34-35, 3:24). Mary is Jesus’ only human source (Mt 1:16, 18, 20-23, Lk 1:27, 35). The origin is not referred to the Father, but to the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:18, 20, Lk 1:35). Furthermore, if Joseph was Jesus’ father, why the need to concoct a story of virgin conception?

The only way to suggest the conception of Jesus was not supernatural is to deny the gospel narratives all together which affirm a virgin conception. To go further and propose an affair or normal human conception is to do so with no evidence and a denial of other historical facts.

SKEPTICISM AND EXTRA-BIBLICAL EVIDENCE

Skeptics argue, however, that there IS evidence of an affair or other illegitimate origin for Christ. Evidence that is extra-biblical and thus takes us into the realm of testimony from those who were skeptical of the virgin conception.

Ancient Jewish tradition maintains that Jesus was born of adultery.[32]  In the late 2nd century Celsus, a second century Greek philosopher, wrote, “[Jesus] came from a Jewish village and from poor country woman who earned her living by spinning… She was driven out by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, as she was convicted of adultery. After she had been driven out by her husband and while she was wandering about in a disgraceful way she secretly gave birth to Jesus.”[33]  And, “The mother of Jesus is described as having been turned out by the carpenter who was betrothed to her, as she had been convicted of adultery and had a child by a certain soldier named Panthera.”[34]

Even in the Bible we see skepticism of Jesus’ father from the Pharisees in Mark 6:3 when they refer to Jesus was as the son of Mary, not the son of Joseph. This would be an insult in Jewish culture, unless of course they believed Joseph was not His father, and the real father was unknown.

The skeptics seem to provide evidence that the origin of Christ is questionable. Or do they? Consider the source; Jews and Romans skeptical of Jesus being the Son of God. The only value this evidence has is evidence of doubt from others. The doubt being no different than the doubt experienced today as a way to rationalize Christ’s origins without the supernatural. The inclusion of these doubts in the gospel accounts themselves only solidifies this notion.

Celsus was far removed from the events in question by about one hundred years. His only knowledge of the nativity story coming from what the gospel writers had already established. Hence, his critique of the story is based on what he thinks really happened under the presupposition that the virgin conception did not occur. Case in point is his claim that Mary was convicted of adultery, something Joseph would surely divorce and leave her for, and something Mary most likely would not have survived. He also claims Joseph turned her away, which is not found in the nativity stories, and in fact contradicts them as both Mary and Joseph went to find Jesus in the temple at age twelve. Then there is his claim that the father was a soldier named “Panthera,” which he obviously derived from “pantheos” (virgin).[35] Thus, Celsus’ testimony only proves that there was doubt of Christ’s origins among the Romans, but there is nothing to substantiate these doubts other than preconceived opinion.

These records of doubt additionally defend three points made earlier; the virgin conception was not a later addition, not copied from pagan myth and the gospel writers did not copy from the Old Testament. If the virgin conception was added at a later date how come we see Jews and Romans challenging it so early on? If copied from pagan myth why did the Romans challenge it? If copied from Old Testament scripture why would the Jews challenge it?

Likewise, we must also consider the difficulty and skepticism encountered from Matthew and Luke while writing virginal conception story as further testimony to its accuracy. Why would Matthew and Luke write of it, unless it actually happened? The strange conception of Jesus would only lead to criticism and attempts to discredit the miracle from those who heard of it, as it subsequently did receive from both Jews and Greeks, which is testimony it was not invented by the disciples.

Laurentin writes, “…the virginal conception was, for Luke and above all for Matthew, a crucial difficulty, indeed a scandal. It ran counter to their apologetic concern, to establish that Jesus was son of David, which was the very reason that had inspired Matthew to begin his Gospel with a genealogy. It was a tradition that came to them from reliable Jewish Christian circles, and nothing prepared our evangelists to resolve it. They managed to do so, however, in a more convincing way that Paul himself (Gal 4:4), not by choosing an easy route, but by accepting the very originality of this significant novelty.”[36]

Let us, for the moment, assume the virgin conception did happen as written in the gospels. If so, we would naturally expect opposition from skeptics since the claim of a virgin conception is extreme. We would naturally expect some form of mention of the virgin conception outside the bible. Which we do find this extra-biblical support in the form of skepticism. Thus, the factors we naturally expect to find in the event the story is true, we do indeed find.

A RELIABLE SOURCE

All the rebuttals to these conspiracy theories relies on a foundation that proposes the gospels are reliable texts. As can be shown by the overly abundant other historical events confirmed by the Bible, the gospels themselves present many cities, people and events which have been substantiated by archaeology and other extra-biblical histories. Luke’s gospel alone proves to be rich with details that testify to his objective to provide an accurate account of Jesus’ life. Also consider the historical accuracy of events surrounding the birth. The references to Quirinius’ census, the accuracy of the genealogies, the mention of Herod, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, etc., all historically verifiable people and places. Details of the nativity story in general, like there being no room at the inn, child laid in a manger, etc., have no real theological value other than being straightforward historical details. This adds more teeth to the reliability of the nativity story overall.

With so many facets of Matthew and Luke’s gospels validated, why would one immediately move to a position of doubt when they mention the virgin conception? For the disciples to accept this event as accurate, it is because it imposed itself as fact. Additionally, between Luke and Matthew we see many divergences, yet they both share a similar account of the conception. Laurentin remarks, “… the virgin birth stands as a serious and solid datum. It is affirmed in an independent way, as we have seen, by the two infancy Gospels. There divergences at other points corroborate this remarkable agreement.”[37]

Danielou agrees, “… it is important to notice how Matthew and Luke converg- which indicates at the very least that the virgin birth is an element in a tradition that antedates them both. And if it is further true, as now seems incontestable, that the infancy narratives are based, not just on the preaching of the apostles, but on the traditions in Jesus’ family (traditions related in Luke to Mary’s side, and in Matthew’s to Joseph’s) then we are faced with two independent witnesses fully in agreement with one another.”[38]

But what about the fact that only two places in the New Testament mention such a significant event as the virgin conception? The resurrection was a very significant, and we see it mentioned numerous times in the NT, and definitely in all four gospels. Why is the nativity story so scarce?

Well such might not be the case. Some theologians argue that John 1:13 confirms the virgin conception, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (NIV)”  Mark 6:3 seems to also support the virgin conception in that it testifies to skepticism among the people as they referred to Jesus was the son of Mary, not Joseph, which was not custom at the time to reference the mother instead of the father, unless there was doubt of who the father was. This likewise is shown in John 8:41, where the Pharisees tell Jesus that they were not born out fornication (ek porneias). Was this an insult to Jesus?

Some suggest Paul confirms the virgin birth in Galatians 4:4, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law…” (NIV). Declaring Jesus was born of a woman in that time in place is substantial to say the least. And thus it appears we have confirmation from Matthew, Luke, John, Mark, and Paul that Jesus was conceived from a virgin woman. The claim that the nativity story should be rejected because it only appears in two places in the NT was refutable originally, but now it would appear to be an unquestionably spurious claim to make.

Laurentin writes, “…Paul’s theology of Christ’s origin contains nothing that conflicts with the idea of virginal conception, but in fact, contains some surprising traits which harmonize with it.”[39] Scholar Antonion Vicent Cernuda writes, “His [Paul’s] archaic formulas confirm that [the virginal conception], often considered illusory in these times, did belong to the most ancient Christian tradition.”[40]

One factor that troubles some skeptics is the fact that Matthew and Luke did not witness the events described in the nativity story. How could they know the details of Mary and Joseph being visited by an angel? The story of the conception of Jesus is believed to come from Mary herself, since Luke makes reference to her prayerful recollection. Mary is of course the only witness to the annunciation.[41] Thus, Luke received the story from Mary’s testimony.[42] It should be likewise considered Matthew received it from the same source.

Considering the historical accuracy of the Bible in general, and more specifically Matthew and Luke, it is rational to presume the stories told are accurate. In addition, other books within the Bible confirm the tradition of a virgin conception. Again, if we assume for the moment that the virgin conception did happen in the first century, the evidence we would expect to find from the first century is supporting eye witness testimony and skeptical testimony from those that did not witness it. And this is indeed what we find.

SCIENTIFIC SKEPTICISM

The most common objection to the virgin conception I often hear myself, is that of scientific impossibility. Such an event is a miracle, considered impossible, and thus rejected unless it can be proven otherwise. Usually the skeptic requires scientific proof, ignoring the fact that there are many truths we all accept everyday without a shred of scientific proof. Yet, this has not prevented many from drawing up explanations for the virgin conception that are supposedly scientifically sound. Just as the previously mentioned conspiracy theory of an affair looks to find a simple and scientifically acceptable explanation, there are others to consider as well, such as Parthenogenesis.

A few years ago, discover magazine posted an article on Parthenogenesis which stated, “Virgin birth may sound like the stuff of myths and miracles, but now it’s the stuff of science, too. In recent years, asexual reproduction, aka virgin birth, has been confirmed in a number of organisms.”[43] Parthenogenesis is the capability for an organism to reproduce without the need for fertilized eggs. It has been observed in pythons, sharks, bats, and even lab mice.[44] So if it is possible for these animals to give birth without sex, then maybe it is possible for humans too. Maybe such was the case for Jesus. This would serve to provide scientific plausibility for the skeptics and maintain the virgin birth for believers. In fact, many Christians have indeed adopted Parthenogenesis into their theology. Problem solved! Right?

Wrong. There are theological and scientific implications to parthenogenesis that prove to be anything but harmonious with scripture. The theological problem: Parthenogenesis removes any need for God, the Holy Spirit, or anything supernatural, chalking up Mary’s pregnancy to incredible, but still natural, causes. The denial of any divine influence renders the event non-miraculous and pointless to the Gospels. As Dr. Prasad confirms, “…when it comes to having babies without males, the hand of God now seems redundant.”[45] The scientific problem: parthenogenesis works by giving the egg an X chromosome from the mother, creating an XX combination which results in a female. Jesus was a male however. Meaning he required a Y chromosome which mothers cannot give, but fathers can.[46] As Prasad clarifies, “In humans, a virgin birth would mean that a woman’s eggs develop successfully without sperm. This presents a sex chromosome problem. In mammals, females are XX while males are XY so a woman should never be able to provide the necessary Y chromosome genes to produce a son. They can only come from a father.”[47]

However, some argue it could still be possible for Jesus to have been conceived this way if Mary had a condition called “testicular feminization syndrome.” Meaning, Mary had an X and Y chromosome (like that of a man) but her X chromosome was mutated preventing her body from being sensitive to testosterone, and thus, would develop like a female.[48] Normally the syndrome leaves the carrier sterile, but if she were to spontaneously become pregnant, she would have a Y chromosome to give, making it possible to have a male child.[49]

This, however, leads to another problem. Such a case of parthenogenesis among a carrier of testicular feminization syndrome would mean the offspring would inherit the same X chromosome mutation, and subsequently develop like a female as well. The only way around this problem is to propose a “back mutation,” in which the X chromosome mutation mutates back to the original gene that doesn’t cause testicular feminization. The odds of a back mutation are, however, “highly unlikely.”[50]

Another theory maintains that Mary didn’t have testicular feminization, but was instead a genetic mosaic caused while she herself was in her mother’s womb. This scenario involves a twin embryo (with a Y chromosome) fusing with Mary’s at a very early stage.[51] Thus, Mary is a female, but has the Y chromosome from her unfortunate fused twin. Yet problems emerge just as before; why is that Y chromosome not expressed in Mary’s phenotype? Whatever would suppress that Y chromosome allowing Mary to be female, would likewise prevent Jesus from being male as well.

Furthermore, the processes required for natural virgin birth are extremely unlikely. Parthenogenesis has never been observed in humans. Testicular feminization syndrome is very rare, only effecting one in 20,000 to 64,000 births in modern times.[52] The possibility of females with testicular feminization syndrome giving birth is very rare. Mary being a genetic mosaic is also very rare. And a back mutation is also very rare. When you stack unlikely scenarios upon piles of other unlikely scenarios, you’re left with an overall scenario so unlikely, it might as well be a miracle! As Prasad writes, “You could be forgiven for thinking that the scientific possibilities are no more plausible than a miracle.”[53] Clearly, the purpose of parthenogenesis to provide a scientific explanation for the virgin conception absent of miracles completely fails in this regard.

This is naturally where the argument heads into the realm of miracles and the question of whether or not miracles can or have happened. There is obviously a great deal that can be written on this subject alone, but I will only briefly attend to it. I will start by suggesting that it is a fallacy to claim that science disproves miracles. Science can only measure and study the regular natural order of things. A miracle, being a suspension of the regular natural order, would thus not be detectable by science. Ergo, to argue that science leaves no room for miracles is to argue that science has a monopoly on determining what truth is. However, the process of science is the data collected from observable repeatable experiment. Thus, science is limited as to what it can prove or disprove.

We also need to recognize that science is descriptive, not prescriptive. It does not determine what is possible, it only recognizes what is possible, and hence is always changing as we discover and understand more and more. Things that once defied science in the past are now standards in science. So if we recognize the limitations of science it becomes clear that the assumption it disproves miracles, is ultimately, false. After all, if science absolutely disproved miracles we should see a complete absence of Christian scientists. Such is not the case though.

Here, I believe, it is important to understand God’s role between miracles and natural law. Philosopher and apologist Norman L. Geisler does a wonderful job in identifying this, “Natural law is a description of the way God acts regularly in and through creation (Ps. 104:10–14), whereas a miracle is the way God acts on special occasions. So both miracles and natural law involve the activity of God. The difference is that natural law is the regular, repeatable way God acts, whereas a miracle is not… Natural law is the way God acts indirectly in and through the world he has made. By contrast, a miracle is the way God acts directly in his creation from time to time… Natural law describes the gradual activity of God in the world, whereas miracles manifest his immediate actions.”[54]

Overall, attempts to reconcile the virgin conception through pure natural causes devoid of divine intervention have to be recognized as attempts to remove God from the picture completely. And to remove God from the event, ultimately leads to an even easier denial of it. Brown writes, “It [virgin conception] was an extraordinary action of God’s creative power, as unique as the initial creation itself (and that is why all natural scientific objections to it are irrelevant, e.g., that not having a human father, Jesus’ genetic structure would be abnormal). It was not a phenomenon of nature; and to reduce it to one, however unusual, would be as serious a challenge to deny it altogether.”[55] So there should be no interest for Christians to search out natural explanations for it in an effort to make the story more plausible to skeptics.

Yet, the removal of any natural cause might be the deal breaker for you, yourself. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, I could never believe in miracles! I can, however, argue that you most likely all ready do. Atheists and agnostic skeptics tend to have more in common with Christians than they would like to think. The virgin conception proves this greatly in that it involves the spontaneous generation of Jesus’ first embryonic cell. Scoff and mock this notion if you wish. But it is no different than the first spontaneous generation of life on earth. Think of the parallels: Both involve a spontaneous generation of a cell. Both unobserved by modern science. A purely natural origin of life on this earth involves the same degree of miraculous cellular formation we see in the virgin birth. Yet skeptics will scoff and mock the notion of the virgin birth (of which we have eye witness accounts) and yet religiously adhere to the natural origin of life on earth (in which there is no eyewitness account, and additionally no conclusive evidence)! Such irony!

So from a scientific perspective there is no valid excuse to deny the virgin conception unless you wish to throw out every other miraculous non-observable event in history like the spontaneous generation of life on earth, the big bang event, etc. etc. Yet, if we believe these events to have occurred, than you no longer have any scientific grounds to refute the virgin conception.

CONCLUSION

My research has lead me to conclude the virgin conception story as recorded in the Bible can stand up to the refutations skeptics attack it with. As Laurentin concludes, “After so many hypotheses, which have on examination turned out be as many impasses, the obvious critical solution is to recognize that the virginal conception is a datum of tradition, handed down in Judeo-Christian circles. The two evangelists received it by different routes as a statement of fact… This is the conclusion to which an objective study of the text leads.”[56]

Through out the course of researching this topic it occurred to me that in arguing for and against the virgin conception of Christ, the issue will always boil down to a single question: Is there a God? This is ultimately the issue at hand. If there is no God then the virgin conception becomes null and void. If there is a God, then miracles are possible, and the virgin conception possible and confirmed. This is the question one must decide for themselves first, as the virgin conception debacle will only lead back to it. For Christians who claim to believe in God there is absolutely no reason to deny the literal accuracy of the virgin conception. To do so would be to pull on the thread of God’s capability that is tied to all Biblical events, unraveling the entire Bible itself.

Although this article does not alone prove whether the virgin conception actually happened or not, it does bring up two significant points: First, that if the virgin conception did occur in the first century as expressed in the gospels, all the evidence we would expect there to be of this event are indeed found. Second, if God exists as expressed in the Bible, then the virgin conception is possible, tied to the first point that there is evidence of the virgin conception, it can then be concluded it did occur. Alas, we are left with one final question then; does God exist? If your answer is yes, then I believe it is necessary to conclude the virgin conception is a historical fact.


[1] Spong, J.S., (1992) Born of a Woman: A Bishop Rethinks the Birth of Jesus, (San Francisco, CA: Harper)

[2] Flam, F., (May 2006) “What would Jesus’ DNA do?” seattletimes.com

[3] Robinson, J.A.T. (1967) But That I Can’t Believe! (New York, NY: The New American Library, Inc.) pp. 44.

[4] Larue, G. (1983) Sex and the Bible, (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books). Pp. 70.

[5] Prasad, A., (December 2008) “Virgin conception would be more plausible if mary was a man,” http://www.theguardian.co.uk

[6] “Alexander the Great,” http://www.biography.com

[7] Hold, J.P., “Was the story of Jesus stolen from Apollonius of Tyana?” http://www.tektonics.org

[8] Hold, J.P., “Was the story of Jesus stolen from Buddha? (Part 2)” http://www.tektonics.org

[9] “Genghis Kahn Biography,” (2012) http://www.biography.com

[10] “The Life and Times of Hercules,” http://www.perseus.tufts.edu

[11] “Alceme,” dante.udallas.edu

[12] Cazelle, H., (1959) “La mere du roi-Messie dans l’Ancien Testment,” Maria Ecclesia 5, pp. 39-56.

[13] Hold, J.P., “Was the story of Jesus stolen from that of the Egyptian deities Horus and Osiris?” http://www.tektonics.org

[14] Hold, J.P., “Was the story of Jesus stolen from that of the Persian deity Mithra?” http://www.tektonics.org

[15] Sarfati, J., (1994) “The Virginal Conception of Christ,” Apologia, 3(2) pp. 9.

[16] Sarfati, J., (1994) “The Virginal Conception of Christ,” Apologia, 3(2) pp. 9.

[17] Lindemans, M.F., (March 2002) “Romulus,” http://www.pantheon.org

[18] Hold, J.P., “Was the story of Jesus stolen from that of Zoroaster?” http://www.tektonics.org

[19] Ratzinger, J.A., (1969) Introduction au christianise. Translated, Queriniana, Pp. 207-208

[20] Brown, R.E., (1977)  The Birth of the Messiah: a commentary on the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke, Garden City, NY: Doubleday) pp. 523

[21] Sarfati, J., (1994) “The Virginal Conception of Christ,” Apologia, 3(2) pp. 9.

[22] Danielou, J., (1968) The Infancy Narratives, (New York, NY: Herder and Herder). Pp. 53.

[23] Danielou, J., (1968) The Infancy Narratives, (New York, NY: Herder and Herder). Pp. 48.

[24] Larue, G. (1983) Sex and the Bible, (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books). Pp 69.

[25] Bott, M. & Sarfati, J., (1995) “What is wrong with Bishop Spong? Laymen Rethink the Scholarship of John Shelby Spong,” Apologia 4(1):3–27

[26] Laurentin, R., (1982) The Truth of Christmas; Beyond the Myths, Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications) pp. 403.

[27] Danielou, J., (1968) The Infancy Narratives, (New York, NY: Herder and Herder). Pp. 50.

[28] Danielou, J., (1968) The Infancy Narratives, (New York, NY: Herder and Herder). Pp. 52.

[29] Quoted in, Little, P.E., (2000) “Know Why You Believe,” 4th Ed., (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press) pp. 41-42.

[30] Sarfati, J., (1994) “The Virginal Conception of Christ,” Apologia, 3(2) pp. 4.

[31] Laurentin, R., (1982) The Truth of Christmas; Beyond the Myths, Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications) pp. 410.

[32] Laurentin, R., (1982) The Truth of Christmas; Beyond the Myths, Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications) pp. 405.

[33] As quoted from Chadwick, H., (1953) Origen: Contra Celsum, Cambridge, The University Press, 1:28, pp. 28

[34] As quoted from Chadwick, H., (1953) Origen: Contra Celsum, Cambridge, The University Press, 1:32, pp. 31.

[35] Laurentin, R., (1982) The Truth of Christmas; Beyond the Myths, Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications) pp. 539 (ref 13).

[36] Laurentin, R., (1982) The Truth of Christmas; Beyond the Myths, Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications) pp. 416.

[37] Laurentin, R., (1982) The Truth of Christmas; Beyond the Myths, Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications) pp. 402.

[38] Danielou, J., (1968) The Infancy Narratives, (New York, NY: Herder and Herder). Pp. 42.

[39] Laurentin, R., (1982) The Truth of Christmas; Beyond the Myths, Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications) pp. 409.

[40] Vicent Cernuda, A., (1978) “La genesis humana de Jesucrist segun S. Pablo,” Translated, EB 37, pp. 289.

[41] Danielou, J., (1968) The Infancy Narratives, (New York, NY: Herder and Herder). Pp. 23.

[42] Danielou, J., (1968) The Infancy Narratives, (New York, NY: Herder and Herder). Pp. 58-59.

[43] Bai, N., (January 2009) “The Science of Virgin Birth,” blogs.discovermagazine.com

[44] Bai, N., (January 2009) “The Science of Virgin Birth,” blogs.discovermagazine.com

[45] Prasad, A., (December 2008) “Virgin conception would be more plausible if mary was a man,” http://www.theguardian.co.uk

[46] Bai, N., (January 2009) “The Science of Virgin Birth,” blogs.discovermagazine.com

[47] Prasad, A., (December 2008) “Virgin conception would be more plausible if mary was a man,” http://www.theguardian.co.uk

[48] Kour, V. & Abrol, A., (January-March 2005) “Testicular Feminization Syndrome,” Vol. 7, No. 1, http://www.jkscience.org

[49] Prasad, A., (December 2008) “Virgin conception would be more plausible if mary was a man,” http://www.theguardian.co.uk

[50] Prasad, A., (December 2008) “Virgin conception would be more plausible if mary was a man,” http://www.theguardian.co.uk

[51] Bai, N., (January 2009) “The Science of Virgin Birth,” blogs.discovermagazine.com

[52] Kour, V. & Abrol, A., (January-March 2005) “Testicular Feminization Syndrome,” Vol. 7, No. 1, http://www.jkscience.org

[53] Prasad, A., (December 2008) “Virgin conception would be more plausible if mary was a man,” http://www.theguardian.co.uk

[54] Geisler, N.L., (1992) Miracles and the Modern Mind, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker) pp. 111.

[55] Brown, R.E., (1977)  The Birth of the Messiah: a commentary on the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke, Garden City, NY: Doubleday) pp. 531.

[56] Laurentin, R., (1982) The Truth of Christmas; Beyond the Myths, Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications) pp. 416.

This is a re-post from: https://matthew2262.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

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To illustrate what theories other than Darwinian evolution do when they’re worn out and ready to die, our reader John in Kansas City, MO, had this comment on Casey’s article “For Intelligent-Design Advocates, Lessons from the Debate over Continental Drift“:

I graduated with a degree in Geology in 1962. My historical geology book that had a 1960 copyright explains that there are two things all scientists agree upon, one is evolutionary theory and the other is geosynclinal theory. The latter is the idea that mountains emerge from offshore troughs that accumulate tons of sediments and then snap like a rubber band to throw up giant mountain chains. I recall visiting the Rocky Mountains on a geology summer camp in Wyoming in 1962 and observing a part of the Lewis Overthrust, which seemed quite inconsistent with that theory.Ten years later the entire paradigm changed because of the overwhelming evidence supporting plate tectonics.

Why hasn’t the same kind of evidence thrown out random mutation and natural selection? The answer is that evolution deals with a religious issue — where do we come from and what is the nature of life, while the cause of physical systems like mountains does not. It makes no religious difference whether mountains come from shifting plates or geosynclines. It does make a religious difference if life comes from mind rather than matter.

Here is the quote from the book. I still have it on my shelf:

The geosynclinal theory is one of the great unifying principles of geology. In many ways its role in geology is similar to that of evolution that serves to integrate the many branches of biological sciences. The geosynclinal theory is of fundamental importance to sedimentation, petrology, geomorphology, ore deposits, structural geology, geophysics, and practically all the minor branches of geological science. Just as the doctrine of organic evolution is universally accepted among thinking biologists, so also the geosynclinal origin of the major mountain ranges is an established principle in geology.[Thomas Clark and Colin Stearn, The Geological Evolution of North America: A Regional Approach to Historical Geology, p.43 (Ronald Press, 1960)]

Theories come, theories go. Except when, having exceeded their natural lifespan, they cling to a false life that keeps them out of the grave and moving about but still desiccated, cadaverous and weary, a kind of undead version of a scientific idea. If it were a character in horror and fantasy literature, Darwinian evolutionary theory would be called a lich.

The very first life form on earth. What was it? What did it look like? When did it appear? How did it come to be? These are all very good questions. Questions which are usually answered with more imagination than actual science since we weren’t there to observe of course. But the biggest question has to be the “how.” It is the “how,” that plagues the scientist’s mind when it comes to the first life.

There are only two means by which the first life could have appeared: natural origins or supernatural origins. Natural origins means the life came from non-living chemicals. Supernatural origins means the life came from an Intelligent Designer, a Creator God. Now immediately science throws out supernatural origins because it is of course not natural, and therefore, in the minds of most scientists, not science. Yet science itself cannot seem to yield any satisfying answers to the origin of life on earth. If life came from non-life, this brings with it a wide variety of problems and dead ends.

The Environment Problem

As much as we understand this planet to be hospitable for life, it is only hospitable for life fitted to live on it. For example, oxygen and water are required for life to exist, but are also detrimental to the internal components of an organism.

Let us take oxygen for example: It is a poisonous gas that oxidizes organic material.[1] The only way organisms can tolerate it is because they are already capable of tolerating it, with membranes that protect oxygen from damaging internal components of the cell. Therefore there is no way the organisms could have evolved from non-living material unless protective membranes were already present to protect the vulnerable internal organelles from oxidization. What are the odds that the first life form ever just so happened to have a protective membrane already in place?

Some evolutionists argue that this is not a problem because it assumes oxygen was not present in the early atmosphere of earth, and therefore not a threat. But the evidence does not support this claim. Even earth’s oldest rocks contain evidence of formation in an oxygen rich atmosphere.[2] Atmospheric physicists believe the earth has been fully oxidized for at least 4 billion years.[3] A fairly recent article published on crystals dated to 4.4 billion years ago show heavy evidence of oxidation.[4] Additionally, oxygen is needed for life as protection from harmful UV rays which we have via from the ozone layer, which is made out of oxygen![5] If there was no oxygen UV rays would eradicate all early life forms. Biochemist and molecular biologist Michael Denton writes, “What we have is sort of a ‘Catch 22’ situation. If we have oxygen we have no organic compounds, but if we don’t have oxygen we have none either.”[6]

To get around this concern of oxidization, scientists propose life formulated in the oceans and therefore was not subjected to oxygen initially. But just as with oxygen, water is hazardous to life as well. Organic molecules would be destroyed through the process of hydrolysis (also called “water splitting”) in which water bonds between two molecules causing them to split apart.[7] Any amino acid trying to form a protein would have its bond broken in a short matter of time. The US National Academy of Sciences confirms, “In water, the assembly of nucleosides from component sugars and nucleobases, the assembly of nucleotides from nucleosides and phosphate, and the assembly of oligonucleotides from nucleotides are all thermodynamically uphill in water. Two amino acids do not spontaneously join in water. Rather, the opposite reaction is thermodynamically favored at any plausible concentrations: polypeptide chains spontaneously hydrolyze in water, yielding their constituent amino acids.”[8] Physicist Richard Morris concurs, “… water tends to break chains of amino acids. If any proteins had formed in the ocean 3.5 billion years ago, they would have quickly disintegrated.”[9] Thus, the first life form would have needed a protective membrane already in place to protect it from oxygen and water. Yet, where did this membrane come from?

Additionally, the cytoplasm of living cells contain essential minerals of potassium, zinc, manganese and phosphate ions. If cells manifested naturally, these minerals would need to be present nearby. But marine environments do not have widespread concentrations of these minerals.[10] This has lead researchers to propose that life originated not in oceans, and not in locations exposed to oxygen, but instead in geothermal pools, geysers and mudpools, much like the primordial soup Darwin proposed. Yet all these geothermal features have one thing in common: They are incredibly acidic.[11] They also tend to be very hot, which would destroy many vital amino acids.[12] How did the cell develop protection from this acidity and from this heat? Without such protection initially it could have never come together.

Some speculate that natural selection of non-living chemicals provided such protective features. This is, however, a common error some scientists make in this arena when they propose natural selection occurred for these protective systems to be in place. As Chemist Dr. Jonathan Sarfati points out, “…when it comes to the origin of first life, natural selection cannot be invoked, because natural selection is differential reproduction. That is, if it worked at all, it could only work on a living organism that could produce offspring. By its very definition, it could not work on non-living chemicals. Therefore, chance alone must produce the precise sequences needed, so these simulations do not apply.”[13]

A significant problem with proposing life arose spontaneously via natural means is that in order to do so, the components of the cell would have to be naturally nearby. In other words, the cell’s chemical makeup would have to be harmonious with the environment’s chemical make up. UniversityCollegeof Londonbiochemist Nick Lanepoints out the problem with this, “To suggest that the ionic composition of primordial cells should reflect the composition of the oceans is to suggest that cells are in equilibrium with their medium, which is close to saying that they are not alive. Cells require dynamic disequilibrium — that is what being alive is all about.”[14] This is a tough fact to accept, but undoubtedly true. How could the first life form have naturally manifested via chemical means with a chemical make up so different and unique from the environment it is within?

The Homochirality Problem

Moving forward brings forth a new set of problems when amino acids are discussed. Often amino acids are discovered in locations where it is suggested they are naturally produced (like being found in meteorites). When this happens there is usually a hype of excitement over uncovering the source of the origin of life via natural means. But simply having amino acids around doesn’t solve the origin of life problem. There is an issue of handedness with amino acids. Out of the twenty amino acids used for life, the atoms that build them formulate two different shapes; right handed and left-handed amino acids. Just like a human hand, they’re slightly different. Your thumb is on the left side on one hand, but on the right side on the other. Amino acids are likewise mirror images of each other and are therefore called chiral.

But this creates a problem. Just like hands clasping together, right and left handed amino acids want to bond, canceling each other out. Yet, the amino acids found in proteins are 100% left handed, where as right handed amino acids are never found in proteins![15] Research indicates that right handed amino acids could never form a functioning protein. The fact that only left handed amino acids can create life is called homochirality. Yet any natural process of creating amino acids would create and equal amount of both left handed and right handed amino acids called racemates.[16]

 

One of the most influential chemist/biochemists of the 20th century, Linus Pauling, writes, “This is a very puzzling fact… All the proteins that have been investigated, obtained from animals and from plants from higher organisms and from very simple  organisms- bacteria, molds, even viruses- are found to have been made of L-amino acids.”[17] This is puzzling of course because what natural process only produces one type of amino acid, and not the other amino acid detrimental to life? The late Robert Shapiro, professor emeritus of chemistry at New York University writes, “The reason for this choice [only L-amino acids] is again a mystery, and a subject of continued dispute.”[18] Biochemist and head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Director of Clinical Research at the Singapore General Hospital, Dr. Aw Swee-Eng, is more direct on the subject, “The logical conclusion from these considerations is a simple and parsimonious one, that homochirality and life came together. But evolutionary lore forbids such a notion. It claims to explain how life began, but on the profound issue of life’s “handedness” there is no selective mechanism that it can plausibly endorse.”[19]

The Concept of Information

One factor that is sometimes left out in origin of life talks, that is in my opinion, critical, is the concept of information. All living organisms contain within their DNA information, and not just a little, but a lot! Former physics professor and director of information processing at the Instituteof Physicsand Technology in Braunschweig Germany, Dr. Werner Gitt, writes, “The highest known (statistical) information density is obtained in living cells, exceeding by far the best achievements of highly integrated storage densities in computer systems.”[20] This information leads to highly efficient bio-machinery in our cells that complete a vast array of functions. Every biological function that occurs can be traced back to proteins from genes from reading and transcribing RNA that receives the instructions from the information stored in DNA. It doesn’t simply just happen. It is an immensely complex, sophisticated and detailed process occurring non-stop and very rapidly. In fact, the average cell produces a protein through these processes every four minutes.[21]

Any theory or hypothesis to how life originated naturally must take the source of this information into account. Yet, none can be found. Gitt writes, “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.”[22] Biologist Dr. Raymond Bohlin writes, “DNA is information code… The overwhelming conclusion is that information does not and cannot arise spontaneously by mechanistic processes. Intelligence is a necessity in the origin of any informational code, including the genetic code, no matter how much time is given.”[23] Philosopher of Science and founder of the Discovery Institute, Dr. Stephen Meyer, writes, “Our uniform experience affirms that specified information-whether inscribed hieroglyphics, written in a book, encoded in a radio signal, or produced in a simulation experiment-always arises from an intelligent source, from a mind and not a strictly material process.”[24]

Thus, we are left with no natural method or process by which non-living chemicals can produce the informational code found in every life form that as ever existed. Biologist, Chemist and Physiologist Dr. Gary Parker writes, “Imagine that you have just finished reading a fabulous novel. Wanting to read another book like it, you exclaim to a friend, ‘Wow! That was quite a book. I wonder where I can get a bottle of that ink?’ Of course not! You wouldn’t give the ink and paper credit for writing the book. You’d praise the author, and look for another book by the same writer. By some twist of logic, though, many who read the fabulous DNA script want to give credit to the ‘ink (DNA base code) and paper (proteins)’ for composing the code.”[25]

Not Enough Time

With all things considered, many scientists try to jettison out the first life dilemma with the “time” argument. The argument being that given enough time anything can happen! Even the impossible…

The late Nobel prize winning scientist George Wald once wrote, “However improbable we regard this event [evolution], or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at least once… Time is in fact the hero of the plot… Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable, the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs the miracles.”[26]

Now let us logically think about this. Given enough time, anything is possible? First, I feel pressed to point out that there is something irrational in saying that because something is possible, it will occur. Or anything that can happen, will happen. It is possible that in flipping a coin every minute for fifty years you will get heads every time and never tails… but that doesn’t mean it will happen if you tried. Regardless, the notion that given enough time anything can happen is hardly scientific in my opinion, because it flies in the face of observational science. For example, the Law of Biogenesis which firmly points out that life has only been observed coming from existing life, never from non-life. There is also cell theory, which states that cells arise from pre-existing cells. Regardless of the amount of time tacked onto the issue, the law cannot change, and the dimension of time has no characteristic capable of changing this law.

Let us take for example a chair placed in a room. The chair remains in the room for one hundred years, then a thousand years, and eventually billions of years. At any point would that chair become organic or “living” in anyway? Of course not. It would remain just a chair forever. Why? Because there is nothing inherent in non-living molecules that drive them to arrange themselves into living structures. If there were, they’d be doing so to this day at an observable rate. Such is not the case. Life comes from life, and non-life remains non-life everyday.

Another flaw in this argument is the amount of time in question. Such statements like Wald’s seem to have at least a small degree of plausibility in perhaps an infinite time scenario, but time is not infinite. It definitely had a starting point. A starting point which conventional scientists place at 12 to 14 billion years ago. That is a major constraint on how long time is allowed to work its magic. Cosmologist Dr. Hugh Ross writes, “When it comes to the origin of life, many biologists (and others) have typically assumed that plenty of time is available for natural processes to perform the necessary assembly. But discoveries about the universe and the solar system have shattered that assumption. What we see now is that life must have originated on earth quickly.”[27]

This constraint worsens though because conventional geology and biology places the first life forming 3.5 billion years ago, and the earth is only supposedly 4.5 billion years old. So from a naturalist’s or uniformitarian’s point of view there was a billion years from the time earth was formed to the first fossil evidence of life, from which life is said to have manifested. A billion years is a significant time constraint.

Yet, the time constraint worsens further. From a conventional scientist’s perspective adhering to the nebular hypothesis of sun and planet formation, time is further restricted. The first millions of years would have been one of intense meteorite bombardment of earth as the solar system was forming. These intense meteorite bombardments would have eradicated any chance of life forming on earth. By the time these impacts are calculated to have ceased and the time of the first life forms appearing in the fossil record we’re left with a 10 million year gap.[28] That is an enormous time constraint. Additionally, some scientists propose this time frame was shorter because of the “faint sun paradox.” Namely, that the sun was 20 to 30% less luminous when it first existed, creating a very cold inhospitable world.[29] This makes it difficult to apply Ward’s philosophy of an abundance of time making the impossible possible because there is, for lack of a better phrase, hardly any time at all…

In fact, Nobel Prize winning cytologist and biochemist Christian de Duve states, “It is now generally agreed that if life arose spontaneously by natural processes—a necessary assumption if we wish to remain within the realm of science—it must have arisen fairly quickly, more in a matter of millennia or centuries, perhaps even less.”[30] So much for having all the time in the world.

Lastly, I do feel it is necessary to point out the entropy dilemma when it comes to time. The more time that elapses the higher the entropy, so if anything more time doesn’t make anything possible, but in fact, decreases the potential of anything to happen. As biochemist Dr. Royal Truman writes, “The claim that, with time, anything is possible, including the creation and perpetuation of life, is not based on any scientific principle. Rather, the opposite is true: complex and improbable structures of any kind tend to disintegrate over time.”[31] Sarfati agrees, “Long time periods do not help the evolutionary theory if biochemicals are destroyed faster than they are formed.”[32]

Panspermia; DNA astronauts

The difficulty with life spontaneously arising via chemical means is such a problematic concept that it lead Nobel Prize winner and DNA founder Francis Crick to instead postulate that life originated someplace else and traveled to earth via meteorite or space craft.[33] He admits, correctly, that this does not solve the origin of life problem, but merely pushes it back to another location, but that is precisely the point. He proposes that another life bearing planet may have had a slightly different environment more hospitable for the natural chemical means for life to originate.[34] This theory relies on the hypothetical existence of other such life bearing planets to which there is no scientific evidence of, period.

There is additionally a whole host of other problems with Panspermia. How do living cells survive an arduously long space flight on a meteorite? Let us not forget how far away the nearest star is much less the nearest hypothetical life bearing planet. Think of how difficult it would be to create and engineer a capsule to keep living cells alive for thousands of years of space flight, yet a random natural meteorite is capable of doing the job? DNA would have succumb to radiation exposure over such a long period of time in space flight. How did the DNA withstand the lethal radiation? So, these same cells that defied death in thousands (if not millions) of years of freezing space exposed to lethal radiation then somehow survived a scorching hot entry into earth’s atmosphere to reproduce on earth’s surface? As chemist Russell Grigg puts it, “All in all, interstellar space travel for living organisms is sheer wishful thinking.”[35]

What about contamination? Many of the meteorites found on earth claimed to have evidence of microbial life could just have easily had been contaminated with microbial life after they landed. Contamination is the number one reason why all these claims have been rejected actually.

To get around these concerns, many scientists instead believe meteorites and comets didn’t have life per se, but had the building blocks of life on them. But this circles back around to the original reason why panspermia was imagined in the first place. The building blocks of life were already present on earth. Adding more to the mix via meteorites doesn’t in anyway increase the likelihood of life arising via chemical means anyways. Ross brings up another good point, “Though comets, meteorites partly composed of carbon, and interplanetary dust particles may carry some prebiotics, they carry far too few to make a difference. In fact, with every helpful molecule they bring, come several more that would get in the way- useless molecules that would substitute for the needed ones.”[36] Life developing from nonliving chemicals is hard enough to prove, but suggesting life was seeded by meteorites from hypothetical life elsewhere in the universe is flat out impossible to prove. Yet, likewise, impossible to disprove… and so many cling to this notion to avoid a supernatural cause.

From Bolts to Boeing 747s

Many scientists additionally fail to properly distinguish the building blocks of life and living organisms themselves. Parker writes, “The pyramids are made of stone, but studying the stone does not even begin to explain how the pyramids were built. Similarly, until evolutionists begin to explain the origin of the ‘orderly mechanism,’ they have not even begun to talk about the origin of life.”[37]Just as there is a huge void between the bolts and small parts of a 747 to them actually all being carefully assembled into a fully functioning 747, likewise, the simple building blocks of life are organized in an immensely complex way in even the most primitive of organisms.

Hoyle writes of this airplane analogy, “What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junkyard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and leave it ready for take off? The possibilities are so small as to be negligible even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards t fill the whole universe!”[38] Botanist Alexander Williams states, “There is an unbridgeable abyss below the autopoietic hierarchy, between the dirty, mass-action chemistry of the natural environment and the perfect purity, the single-molecule precision, the structural specificity, and the inversely causal integration, regulation, repair, maintenance and differential reproduction of life.”[39]

According to molecular biophysicist Harold Morowitz If you were to take a living cell, break every chemical bond within it so that all you are left with is the raw molecular ingredients, the odds of them all reassembling back into a cell (under ideal natural conditions) is one chance in 10100,000,000,000.[40] Additionally, Morowitz assumed all amino acids were bioactive when calculating these odds.[41] But only twenty different types of amino acids are bioactive, and of those, only left handed ones can be used for life. This further worsens the odds… And with odds like that, time is completely irrelevant because no amount of time could surpass before such an impossible miracle occurred naturally.

Non-theists counter argue that life was not necessarily as complex in the beginning as it is today. Therefore, the odds of a less complex form of life spontaneously assembling are much more probable. The problem with this counter argument is that the earth 3.5 billion years ago was supposedly hardly different at all (environment and atmosphere-wise) than earth today. Meaning the bare necessities required for life to exist on earth today were the same in the past, which is that of great complexity. Additionally minimum complexity presents its own problems in that minimally complex organisms require other larger organisms to survive and are not capable of surviving individually. Thus the first life and its subsequent offspring would have had to have been able to survive independently which requires sophisticated biological features.

Astronomer Michael Hart calculated the odds of DNA spontaneously generating with 100 specific genes (what he declared to be the minimum possible for life) in the most unrealistic yet optimistic conditions over the course of ten billion years. The odds? One in ten to the negative three thousandth power (10-3,000).[42] The time it would take for 200,000 amino acids to come together by chance to create one human cell would be 293.5 times the estimated age of earth of 4.6 billion years.[43] The Director of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware, Dermott Mullan, calculates that the odds of RNA assembling into a primitive cell over the course of an optimistic 1 billion years is one in 1079.[44] Material scientist Dr. Walter Bradley and Chemist Dr. Charles Thaxton calculated that the probability of amino acids forming just one protein is 4.9 x 10-191.[45] The odds of amino acids coincidentally being in the precise order and folds required to make the all the enzymes required for life is 10-650.[46] These are all horrible odds for a natural origin of life. Then consider that these statistics are independent of each other; the DNA would have to spontaneously generate, amino acids randomly together to form proteins in a cell, RNA assembling into a cell, etc. It is hard to accept with these odds, that anything that can happen did happen.

The Reproduction Puzzle

The late philosopher Anthony Flew, an ex-atheist, spoke of many of the philosophical troubles he had with the natural origins for life. One of which that was of great concern was reproduction. Life evolving from non-life is already such a statistical impossibility, but if it did happen, this first life would have to be able to reproduce and replicate itself. Information encoded DNA capable of driving life derived from non-living chemicals is already an absurd concept, but to contain information for replication and overall reproduction is astounding. This is from a philosophical standpoint, perplexing. It is too perfect and too coincidental that the very first life, already an impossibility, just so happened to also be able to duplicate itself. Such ability has “design” written all over it, not “chance.”

Error Protection

Even the most primitive cells today have multiple checkpoints in place to protect against errors. Cells have DNA checkpoints, where cell function momentarily pauses for special proteins to repair damaged DNA. There is an apoptosis checkpoint right before mitosis begins where specialized proteins called survivins run a “diagnostics” to determine whether the cell will proceed with mitosis or die through apoptosis. A spindle assembly checkpoint ensures chromosomes are properly bound together. Telomeres burn like fuses every time a cell divides. Once a telomere becomes too short, the cell stops dividing, usually maxing out at fifty divides.[47]  This feature controls cell division. Failure for these mentioned checkpoints to operate leads to a whole host of diseases, most notably cancers.[48]

So how did the first cell protect against errors when it reproduced? Such a capability could not have evolved, because such a capability would have been needed right from the very beginning. Without such a feature, all subsequent life would contain error-prone genetics and would not be able to function or reproduce. Mullan, points out, “A cell formed under these conditions [naturally] would truly be subject to serious uncertainties not only during day to day existence but especially during replication. The cell could hardly be considered robust.”[49] In order to maintain healthy function and reproduction, the first cell would have already needed these specialized checkpoints to guard against errors. The cells could not afford to wait thousands or millions of years for them to evolve. If they did, we wouldn’t be here.

Simultaneous Presence

In order to have fully functioning life at even the most basic kind, functioning RNA, DNA and proteins must be present. Remove any one of these from the picture and life can’t function. For example, transcription, translation and DNA replication all require systems already in place to occur. These functions could not simply have evolved because life requires them in place to begin with. As Ross states, “Thus, for life to originate mechanically, all three kinds of molecules [DNA, RNA, and proteins] would need to emerge spontaneously and simultaneously from organic compounds. Even the most optimistic of researchers agree that the chance appearance of these incredibly complex molecules at exactly the same time and place was beyond the realm of natural possibility.”[50]

Though biologists point out that some RNA has been found to act as enzymes or catalysts to perform functions that DNA or a protein would normally do, this has lead many scientists to propose that all one needs is the spontaneous generation of RNA, and it would take care of the rest. Problems with this theory is that the RNA studied to reveal these abilities was very limited, and could not account for the vast functioning seen in DNA and proteins overall. Furthermore, in order for RNA to function this way it would have to contain just as much information as the DNA and protein itself, so the issue of complexity in even the earliest life isn’t solved with RNA either. Molecular Biologist and professor at the Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Gerald F. Joyce writes, “The most reasonable interpretation is that life did not start with RNA … The transition to an RNA world, like the origins of life in general, is fraught with uncertainty and is plagued by a lack of relevant experimental data. Researchers into the origins of life have grown accustomed to the level of frustration in these problems …”[51]

Conclusion

Biologist Jonathan Wells just about sums it up, “So we remain profoundly ignorant of how life originated.”[52] Earth Scientist Casey Luskin writes, “It’s time for a little reality check here: origin-of-life theorists need to explain how a myriad of complex proteins and features arose and self-assembled into a self-replicating life-form by unguided processes, but they are still scraping for mechanisms to explain how an inert primordial soup of organic molecules could have arisen in the first place.”[53] Hoyle writes, “If there were some deep principle that drove organic systems towards living systems, the operation of the principle should easily be demonstratable in a test tube in half a morning. Needless to say, no such demonstration has ever been given. Nothing happens when organic materials are subjected to the usual prescription of showers of electrical sparks or drenched in ultraviolet light, except the eventual production of a tarry sludge,” and “As biochemists discover more and more about the awesome complexity of live, it is apparent that its chances of originating by accident are so minute that they can be completely ruled out. Life cannot have arisen by chance.”[54] Physicist and Information Theorist Dr. Hubet Yockey writes, “The origin of life by chance in a primeval soup is impossible in probability in the same way that a perpetual machine is in probability. The extremely small probabilities calculated… are not discouraging to true believers . . . [however] A practical person must conclude that life didn’t happen by chance.”[55]

Yockey then goes further to add, “The history of science shows that a paradigm, once it has achieved the status of acceptance (and is incorporated in textbooks) and regardless of its failures, is declared invalid only when a new paradigm is available to replace it. Nevertheless, in order to make progress in science, it is necessary to clear the decks, so to speak, of failed paradigms. This must be done even if this leaves the decks entirely clear and no paradigms survive. It is a characteristic of the true believer in religion, philosophy and ideology that he must have a set of beliefs, come what may… Belief in a primeval soup on the grounds that no other paradigm is available is an example of the logical fallacy of the false alternative. In science it is a virtue to acknowledge ignorance. This has been universally the case in the history of science… There is no reason that this should be different in the research on the origin of life.”[56] Biochemist and head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Director of Clinical Research at the Singapore General Hospital, Dr. Aw Swee-Eng, concludes, “The available evidence from the field and the laboratory is not amicable to the theory that life began with the accidental assembly of a self-replicating molecule.”[57]

As it has been clearly demonstrated, there are a wide variety of blockades standing in the way of a natural origins answer for the first life, and no definitive solution has been reached nor can be confidently expected to be reached in the future. Yet, the other option, supernatural origins, is not subject to such obstacles. In fact, every problem a natural origin faces can be satisfactorily answered via supernatural origins. Though many scientists will not appeal to super natural intervention on the grounds that it is not science, and merely a “cut and run” for those who are too impatient to wait for future researchers to provide an adequate natural origins argument.

In response to that notion, Denton answers, “The almost irresistible force of the analogy has completely undermined the complacent assumption, prevalent in biological circles over most of the past century, that the design hypothesis can be excluded on the grounds that the notion is fundamentally a metaphysical a priori concept and therefore scientifically unsound. On the contrary, the inference to design is a purely a posteriori induction based on a ruthlessly consistent application of the logic of analogy. The conclusion may have religious implications, but it does not depend on religious presuppositions.”[58] Therefore, adhering to supernatural cause through rational deduction with proper observational science as support cannot be considered unscientific. Additionally, such a conclusion should not be considered a “cut and run” if the problems faced by natural origins can never be solved via natural means. What discovery (or discoveries) could solve the information, reproduction, environment, homochirality problems?

Physicist H. S. Lipson writes, “If living matter is not, then, caused by the interplay of atoms, natural forces, and radiation [i.e., time, chance, and chemistry], how has it come into being? I think, however, that we must go further than this and admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation.”[59] Parker writes, “In a novel, the ink and paper are merely the means the author uses to express his or her thoughts. In the genetic code, the DNA bases and proteins are merely the means God uses to express His thoughts. The real credit for the message in a novel goes to the author, not the ink and paper, and the real credit for the genetic message in DNA goes to the Author of Life, the Creator…”[60] Medical pathologist David Demick, M.D., concludes, “Thousands of experiments, and all of the recently gained knowledge of molecular biology and genetics, have only served to strengthen the most fundamental law of biology, laid down by Virchow over a century ago: ‘omni cellules e cellules’ (all cells come from other cells), also known as the Law of Biogenesis. Life only comes from life. This was the law established by the Author of Life, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—Jesus Christ.”[61] Griggs concludes, “Life is bristling with machinery, codes and programs, which are not an inherent property of the material substrate (the information for their construction having been passed on during reproduction). No observation has ever shown such information-bearing structures arising spontaneously. The obvious inference from science, as well as the obvious implications of Scripture, is that the original creation of living things involved the very opposite of chance, namely, the imposition of external intelligence on to matter by an original Designer or Creator.”[62]

So we’re left with a choice. Supernatural or natural? One answers all these problems, the other does not. You can hold out for a natural answer if you wish, but I would rather side with a sure thing. Logically, an Intelligent Designer, a God, is in my opinion, the only rational explanation behind the first life.


[1] Ward, P. & Brownlee, D., (2000) Rare Earth, Copernicus:New York,NY, pp. 245.

[2] Clemmey, H. & Badham, N., (1982) “Oxygen in the Atmosphere: An Evaluation of the Geological Evidence,” Geology, 10:141.

[3] Thaxton, C.B., Bradley, W.L., & Olsen, R.L., (1984) The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Philosophical Library:New York,NY, pp. 69-98.

[4] Trail, D., Watson, B.E., & Tailby, N.D., (December 2011) “The Oxidation State of Hadean Magmas and Implications for Earth’s Early Atmosphere,” Nature, 480: pp. 79-82.

[5] Riddle, M., (2008) “Can Natural Processes Explain the Origin of Life?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 3, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 66.

[6] Denton, M., (1985) Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Alder & Alder:Bethesda,MD, pp. 261.

[7] Riddle, M., (2008) “Can Natural Processes Explain the Origin of Life?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 3, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 66.

[8] As quoted in Casey Luskin’s “More News Sources Admit the ‘Mystery’ of Life’s Origin,” (February 2012) http://www.evolutionnews.org

[9] Morris, R., (2002) The Big Questions, Times Books/Henry Holt:New York,NY, pp. 167.

[10] Switek, B., (February 2012) “Debate Bubbles Over the Origin of Life,” http://www.nature.com

[11] Switek, B., (February 2012) “Debate Bubbles Over the Origin of Life,” http://www.nature.com

[12] Sarfati, J., “15 Loopholes in the Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Life,” creation.com

[13] Sarfati, J., (2002) Refuting Evolution 2, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 157.

[14] As quoted in Brian Switek’s  “Debate Bubbles Over the Origin of Life,” (February 2012) http://www.nature.com

[15] Riddle, M., (2008) “Can Natural Processes Explain the Origin of Life?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 3, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 67.

[16] Ashton, J., (2000) In Six Days, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 82.

[17] Pauling, L., (1970) General Chemistry, 3rd Ed., W.H. Freeman & Co.:San Francisco,CA, pp. 774.

[18] Shapiro, R., (1986) Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books:New York,NY, pp. 86.

[19] Swee-Eng, A., “The Origin of Life; a Critique of Current Scientific Models,” creation.com

[20] Gitt, W., “Dazzling Design in Miniture: DNA Information Storage,” creation.com

[21] Parker, G., (January 1994) “The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[22] Gitt, W., (2006) In The Beginning Was Information, Master Books:Green Forest,AR.

[23] Lester, L. & Bohlin, R., (1989) The Natural Limits To Biological Change, Probe Books:Dallas,TX, pp. 157.

[24] Meyer, S., (2009) Signature in the Cell, Harper Collins:New York,NY, pp. 347

[25] Parker, G., (January 1994) “The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[26] Wald, G., (1954) “The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191 no. 2:48.

[27] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 137.

[28] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 138.

[29] Mullan, D., “Probabilities of Randomly Assembling a Primitive Cell on Earth,” http://www.iscid.org

[30] Duve, C., (September-October 1995) “The Beginnings of Life on Earth,” American Scientist, pp. 428.

[31] Truman, R., (December 2001) “The Fish in the Bathtub,” Creation

[32] Sarfati, J., “15 Loopholes in the Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Life,” creation.com

[33] Morris, J.D., “How Did Life Originate?” http://www.icr.org

[34] Crick, F., (October 1981) “The Seeds of Life,” Discover Magazine

[35] Grigg, R., (September 2000) “Did Life Come to Earth From Outerspace?” Creation, 22:(4), pp. 42

[36] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 138-139.

[37] Parker, G., (January 1994) “The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[38] As quoted in Paul E. Little’s Know Why You Believe, 4th Ed., InterVarsity Press:Downers Grove,IL, pp. 26.

[39] Williams, A., (August 2007) “Life’s Irreducible Structure- Part 1: Autopoiesis,” Journal of Creation, 21:(2) pp. 115.

[40] Shapiro, R. (1986) Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books:New York,NY, pp. 128.

[41] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 141.

[42] Hart, M. H. (1990) “Atmospheric Evolution, the Drake Equation, and DNA: Sparse Life in an Infinite Universe,” Physical Cosmology and Philosophy, MacMillan:New York,NY, pp. 264.

[43] Little, P.E., (2000) Know Why You Believe, 4th Ed.,InterVarsity Press:Downers Grove,IL, pp. 26.

[44] Mullan, D., “Probabilities of Randomly Assembling a Primitive Cell on Earth,” http://www.iscid.org

[45] Thaxton, C., Bradley, W., & Olsen, R., (1984) The Mystery of Life’s Origins: Reassessing Current Theories, Philosophical Library:New York,NY, pp. 80.

[46] Sarfati, J., “15 Loopholes in the Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Life,” creation.com

[47] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics; Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed., McGraw Hill:New York,NY, Pp. 30-31.

[48] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics; Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed., McGraw Hill:New York,NY, Pp. 355.

[49] Mullan, D., “Probabilities of Randomly Assembling a Primitive Cell on Earth,” http://www.iscid.org

[50] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 142.

[51] Joyce, G.F.,  (1989) “RNA Evolution and the Origins of Life,” Nature 338: pp. 222-223

[52] Wells, J., (2000) Icons of Evolution, Regnery Publishing:WashingtonD.C., pp. 24.

[53] Luskin, C., (February 2012) “More News Sources Admit the ‘Mystery’ of Life’s Origin,” http://www.evolutionnews.org

[54] Hoyle, F., (1983) The Intelligent Universe, Michael Joseph:London, pp. 251.

[55] Yockey, H.P., (1992) Information Theory and Molecular Biology, CambridgeUniversity Press:UK, pp. 257.

[56] Yockey, H.P., (1992) Information Theory and Molecular Biology, CambridgeUniversity Press:UK, pp. 336.

[57] Swee-Eng, A., “The Origin of Life; a Critique of Current Scientific Models,” creation.com

[58] Denton, M., (1986) Evolution: A Theory in Crisis,3rd Ed., Alder & Alder, pp. 341.

[59] Lipson, H. S., (May 1980) “A Physicist Looks at Evolution,” Physics Bulletin, pp. 138.

[60] Parker, G., (January 1994) “The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[61] Demick, D., (December 2000) “Life From Non-Life… or Not?” Creation 23:1 pp. 41.

[62] Grigg, R., (December 1990) “Could Monkeys Type the 23rd Psalm?” Creation 13:1 pp. 34

Yesterday when I turned on the TV a show called “The Doctors” was on. On the screen were two images of brain scans showing patterns in brain activity between heterosexual males and females. There was quite a difference between the two. Then they showed the brain scan of a homosexual male, whose brain activity was very similar to the heterosexual females. Alas, the Doctors concluded homosexuals are born homosexuals. The brain scans show it as a biological fact!

That very same day while doing research for genetic causes of age longevity I came across an online article that stated that homosexuality was inherited and therefore genetic. That same day, while flipping through my human genetics text I incidentally came across a section about the possibility of homosexuality being inherited. That’s a lot in one day! Needless to say my curiosity was peaked enough by this time to look much further into it. I’ll be honest, I was curious myself. Are homosexuals born homosexuals, or do they become homosexuals? Is it a choice or predetermined by genes? After a lot of research I found that the answer is both yes and no. Like most topics in genetics and biology, the more we come to discover, the more complicated things are. As geneticist and gene therapist Rick Lewis writes, “Homosexuality at a genetic level is hard to explain because the person’s phenotype and genotype are consistent, but physical attraction is towards the same sex.”[1]

But before we can go forward, bad science needs to be weeded out first. There are so many “evidences” used to support and deny genetic causes of homosexuality that are poor, but widely distributed. Thank you mainstream media! The brain is an excellent example. The brain scans shown on the Doctors show do not show proof that homosexuality is genetic or biologically rooted, they only show commonalities in brain activity patterns. They show an effect, not a cause. If those brain scans are evidence of genetic causes then I could just as easily point to a gay man kissing a man, and a woman kissing a man and say “Eureka, similar patterns! Proof homosexuality is genetic!” Also, how large was the sample of men and women, homo and hetero used in the study? Why didn’t we see an image of the lesbian woman’s brain activity patterns? These are all things that need to be considered when presented with such “evidences.” As Dr. Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist and self-proclaimed homosexual himself states, ““The alternative — that the difference resides only in patterns of brain activity — has been ruled out, because sexual orientation remains unchanged after all brain activity has been temporarily halted.”[2]

As far as the factoids I stumbled across online and the text from my human genetics textbook, they spoke of identical twin testing. Testing which proves to be a much more concrete study than just brain activity patterns. Results from a study back in 1993 (one that has been countless times revisited and retested), identical twins are twice as likely to be homosexual than are same-sex fraternal twins.[3] This experiment was conducted by Dean Hamer, a researcher for the National Cancer Institute. He studied 40 pairs of homosexual brothers. He found that X Chromosomes in 33 of the pairs were the same, and concluded that homosexuality is linked to the X chromosome, though the gene responsible itself was never identified.[4] Many studies done afterwards on identical twins provided less optimistic results, but concluded the same: There is a genetic factor for homosexuality.

Back to the brains. There are regions of the brain that are in fact different sizes between homosexual males and heterosexual males.[5] This research was brought to the public by LeVay in 1991. Studying the cadavers of gay and straight men he found an area in the brain called the anterior hypothalamus (called INAH-3) was much smaller in gay men than straight men.[6] A study by William Byne of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City turned up similar results.[7] Many have used this finding as further evidence that homosexuality is deeply rooted in biological and genetic factors.

William Reiner, a psychiatrist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, concludes that there is a genetic factor to gender identity after his experience with sexually deformed children. When children are born with deformities, for example boys with a deformed penis, they are often surgically castrated and raised as girls in an effort to give them a life less painful than being raised as a boy with a deformed penis. Many of these boys never take to being a female despite being treated like one and given estrogen therapy. This lead Reiner to conclude that environment isn’t the cause of our gender identity and therefore it must be genetically determined.[8]

As R. Elizabeth Cornwall, a psychology professor at the Universityof Coloradotestifies, “The evidence for the biological basis for homosexuality is very, very strong. It’s coming from a lot of different areas. The religious right has been very, very successful at creating controversy where there is none. The scientists who study in this area, it’s not a question that there’s a biological component, it’s just how that biological component is working.”[9] Or as Dr. Alan Sanders, a psychiatric geneticist at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Research Institute puts it, “”I think the evidence is pretty convincing already that a substantial contribution to sexual orientation comes from genetics. It’s probably the single biggest factor that we know about.”[10]

An In Depth Look

 

Clearly genetics is linked to homosexuality. But in order for someone to make the claim that someone is “born that way,” biological factors have to be the ONLY cause. Note that Dr. Sanders said that genetics are a “substantial” contributor, but not the sole contributor. As Dr. Brian Mustanski, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois believes, “Since sexual orientation is such a complex trait, we’re never going to find any one gene that determines whether someone is gay or not. It’s going to be a combination of various genes acting together as well as possibly interacting with environmental influences.”[11] Dr. Mustanksi opens the door for the possibility for outside environmental influences.

Let us go back to the twin studies. Geneticist Sven Bocklandt of the David Geffen School of Medicine of UCLA (and protégé of Hamer) is also conducting genetic research on twins based on Hamer’s study. The DNA in identical twins are the same, but their genes are not always, which is why he believes you can have in some cases both twins come out gay, or just one of the twins come out gay. This is due to methylation. You may inherit genes from your mother and genes from your father, but methylation determines which of those genes is active and which are not, and methylation is influenced by diet and environment.[12] So even if one truly believes homosexuality is rooted in genetics environment still comes into play.

But the twin studies conducted by Hamer has been and still is challenged and overturned. Dr. George Rice, a neuroscientist at the Universityof Western Ontarioreplicated Hamer’s study on twins and completely overturned it.[13] Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director for the National Institute for Health, remarked that Hamer’s study “grabbed headlines” but was “widely overstated.”[14] Dr. William M. Byne, Director of the Laboratory of Neuroanatomy and Morphometrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine wrote of Hamer’s study, “Thirty-three of 40 pairs of gay brothers the researchers studied inherited the same version of this chromosome region—significantly more than the 20 pairs (half) expected by chance … [but the researchers] warned against making too much of their results, however ‘We have never thought that finding a genetic link makes sexual orientation a simple genetic trait like eye colour. It’s much more complex than that.’ … seven of the original 40 pairs of brothers did not share the same version of this critical region, for example. And other studies have shown that even the identical twin of a gay man has only a 50 per cent chance of being gay himself. So Hamer’s gene, whatever it turns out to be, is neither necessary nor sufficient to determine homosexual orientation.”[15]

Hamer was not the only one to conduct twin studies though, many have and continue to test twins for genetic correlations. A recent study in 2008 revealed that 27% of homosexuality in genetically contributed. But the error range for the study was 95% meaning that genetic contribution could be much lower. The study also reveled that non-shared environmental contributions greatly predominate, and are in that case the largest causes of same-sex attraction (SSA).[16] Biochemist Dr. Neil Whitehead writes of the report, “Are genetic contribution results of say 27% important? No. In the twin studies world the influence would be classified as weak to modest. And any influence is indirect – it is likely to be something like an innate tendency to be very sensitive to the opinions of others. However, even this weak or modest genetic contribution is probably greatly overstated.” And furthermore, “Twin studies are favorites of mine because of the potential light they throw on the origins of same-sex attractions (SSA). The latest one (Santtila et al., 2008) is three times larger than any previous study – in fact, larger than all the rest put together. Does this latest study teach us something new? Quick answer: No. It confirms the best recent studies, which tell us that genetic factors are minor; non-genetic factors are major.”[17]

Another study conducted earlier in 2002 by Yale and Columbiaresearchers Bearman and Bruekner published in the American Journal of Sociology found that the genetic contribution was zero and that chance was a very important factor. If one male twin had SSA, there was a 7% chance the co-twin had SSA, for females the results drop to 5%. Why are these results so different from others? The researchers stated that other studies were conducted from volunteers, and therefore there was a bias. Bearman and Bruekner’s study consisted of a more random sample, and thus results were much lower.[18]

Collins writes of twin studies as follows, “An area of particularly strong public interest is the genetic basis of homosexuality. Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20% (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.”[19]

As for LeVay’s study of the anterior hypothalamus INAH-3, a smaller INAH-3 in the brain is like the evidence of brain activity patterns mentioned earlier; it is only evidence of effect not cause. All we can conclude from LeVay’s study is that homosexuality and smaller INAH-3s are associated. There is no proof that a smaller INAH-3 causes homosexuality. Besides one could simply argue the opposite; that homosexuality causes the INAH-3 to shrink. When Byne completed the study of the INAH-3 he found that though they were indeed smaller in gay men, they contained the same number of nerve cells as straight men. Since nerve cells of the INAH-3 only develop in the earliest stages of brain development in the womb, the size of the INAH-3 must be determined sometime later.[20]

It should also be understood that measuring this brain structure is very difficult considering it is smaller than a snowflake, and we still are determining the exact function of INAH-3. Some researchers use volume to measure INAH-3, some use neurons.[21] Biologist, Psychologist and Licensed Clinical Counselor Dr. Jerry Bergman writes the following on this study, “If LeVay’s research is valid, it indicates that homosexuality is caused by a biological pathology, since he found that the INAH 2 and 3 (the preoptic nuclei) was much smaller in homosexual compared to normal heterosexual males, indicating it is caused by disease, hormone imbalance or some other abnormality. If it is caused by pathological conditions, it is not normal.”[22]

As far as Reiner’s study of deformed children, he was working only with children establishing gender identity, not sexual orientation/SSA. One could use his study to support that gender identity has underlying genetic causes, but not SSA. It is surprising how often his work is brought up in the realm of this debate despite being a completely different topic. The reasoning is thought to be because the layman tends to get gender identity and sexual orientation confused, unable to distinguish the difference between the two. It is in understanding sexual orientation, and specifically SSA, that we can learn that its cause, although linked to genetics, has a multitude of causative factors.

SSA Causative Factors

 

According to Lewis, there are stages at which we develop certain identities. Our genetic sexual identity (XX or XY) is established at fertilization. Our phenotype sexual identity (reproductive organs) is distinguished after 8 weeks of fertility and continues to develop through puberty. Gender Identity (feelings of being male or female [Reiner’s study]) is established during childhood. And lastly, sexual orientation (attraction to the same or opposite sex) is determined during childhood.[23] Why does it take so long for sexual orientation to become established if it is claimed to be “predetermined” genetically? Sexual orientation cannot be established any earlier because we’re dealing with children. Infants do not have a sexual preference from the womb that can be measured or known. Sexual orientation is a development that occurs overtime, and because it develops overtime it is therefore influenced by environment.

Licensed family therapist and Assistant Professor of Psychology atPalm BeachAtlanticUniversity, Dr. Julie Harren writes that sexual orientation (and more specifically homosexual orientation) is establish from a multitude of factors that all come together in the form of an equation:

Genes + Brain Wiring + Prenatal Hormonal Environment = Temperament
Parents + Peers + Experiences = Environment
Temperament + Environment = Homosexual Orientation[24]

As you can see above, there are many factors that come into play through the process of homosexual development. Bergman writes on the following subject, “An enormous amount of research has been completed on the influence on homosexuality of such factors as passive fathers, domineering mothers, marital relationship abnormalities, closeness and similarity of siblings, relationships with peers, adolescent sexual experiences, feminine interests in males and masculine interests in females while growing up, and numerous other factors. So far, a consistent pattern has not been determined. Likely numerous factors exist which influence homosexual development, any one of which is often not critical. Suffice to say that all of the factors that have been proposed and have been to some degree documented as influential are regarded in Western society as pathological, that is, a domineering, overbearing mother and a weak, passive, ineffective father.

Regardless of the validity of these studies, they all point to pathology in interpersonal relationships as an important or influencing factor in the development of homosexual behavioural tendencies. No one has noted that loving siblings and parental relationships in which the power is equitably shared causes homosexuality, although some have noted that this environment will not necessarily preclude a child from developing homosexual tendencies. …a variety of experiences, many of which have little to do with the person himself or herself, can cause one to become a homosexual, depending on the degree that one’s early diffuse sex drive is conditioned toward persons of the same sex and away from persons of the opposite sex.”[25]

I think it is safe to conclude that there is no one sole cause for homosexuality. Trying to say so is to ignore the observable complexity of the issue. What is observable is a highly complex matrix of potential influences that individually are not significant, but in combination can produce a wide variety of orientations, which is probably why the outcome is not as simple as gay or straight, but instead gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered, etc. What we should ask ourselves is why does homosexuality need to be biological? Why are advocates of homosexuality trying to push a genetic cause?

Why Fight For A Genetic Cause?

Our culture is one that is overall not very accepting of the homosexual culture. Granted, compared to other countries and civilizations one could argue thatAmericais incredibly tolerant and accepting of homosexuals. Regardless there is this predominant mindset and agenda being spread that homosexuality is predetermined. That gays and lesbians are born that way. The reasoning behind which is obvious; if people are born gay, how can you justify any form of mistreatment, prejudice, or dislike of them? After all, they can’t control what they are. The agenda is to force acceptance, hence why so many are striving to promote “evidence,” genetic or otherwise, that gay people are born gay.

Biologist Ruth Hubbard writes, “… many people seem to believe that homosexuality would be more accepted if it were shown to be inborn. Randy Shilts, a gay journalist, has said that a biological explanation ‘would reduce being gay to something like being left-handed, which is in fact all that it is…’ Questions about the origins of homosexuality would be of little interest if it were not a stigmatized behavior. We do not ask comparable questions about ‘normal’ sexual preferences. … Still, many gay people welcome biological explanations and, in recent years, much of the search for biological components in homosexuality has been carried out by gay researchers.”[26]

Dr. A. Dean Byrd, a psychologist and former president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, writes, “Unfortunately, much of the research in areas such as homosexuality, has been not only misrepresented in the media but by the scientists themselves through the tendency to overestimate the quantitative contribution of their findings.”[27] Or as Michael Bailey, a psychology professor for Northwestern University and researcher for the “gay gene” writes, “People are going to make a big deal out of this because people are obsessed with this topic. We obviously find this topic very interesting, but people often make more than they should of these kinds of results.”[28]

Another thing to be considered is the actual genetic causes in question. Many of the genetic links associated with homosexuality, that advocates are so quick to propagate for the “born gay” agenda, are in fact abnormalities. Dr. John Shea, medical advisor for the Campaign Life Coalition writes, “If correct the theories would thus show the opposite of the normalcy of homosexuality, which the mainstream media are attempting to posit with the coverage… ‘I was born abnormal, and therefore I’m normal’ is not good logic.”[29]

On this topic, Bergman writes, “Even if a biological factor exists for some persons, it is another question altogether as to whether homosexual behaviour is desirable or even acceptable. Change is admittedly difficult, but the level of success in treating other sexual disorders such as pedophilia is also extremely low. The latter individuals also claim that they have strong attractions for young children, and have minimal or no attraction to adults of the opposite sex. Some indications also exist that pedophilia may be biologically influenced. This alone would not argue that laws against pedophilia behaviour should be rescinded, or that this behaviour is a normal, acceptable sexual preference. If it were shown that many behaviours now classified as abnormal, including sadomasochism, various fetishes, coprophilia, necrophilia, etc., are likewise influenced by biological factors, this may help us to understand persons who indulge in these practices, but it would likely carry little weight in convincing society to embrace these behavioural forms as normal or desirable.”[30]

So even if we could conclude with certainty that homosexuals are in fact “born that way,” it still should not change how we approach homosexuality. But since it is evidently not genetically predetermined we should no longer latch on to the theory that being born gay will in anyway help homosexuality inAmerica. Believing that to prove being born gay will settle all problems related to homosexuality in poor logic and bad science.

Research scientist for thePalo AltoResearchCenter, Nick Yee writes, “In this crossfire of whether homosexuality is genetic, I contend that our finding of a gay gene will not really get us anywhere in the debate. This is because we know that bad things can be genetic. For example, the mental retardation that accompanies Down Syndrome is caused by a genetic defect. So is cystic fibrosis that causes problems in human respiration. Accompanied by other abnormalities such as color-blindness or Klein-Felters, the list of genetically caused defects is not short. Even if a gay gene were found, this would not grant homosexuality moral or social acceptability because it could still be regarded as a defect or an abnormality.

        Some homosexuals also feel that finding a gay gene might diminish prevalent homophobia. This is also a naïve view. Racism has not diminished because we know that blackness or whiteness is genetic. Sexism exists even though we know that sex is genetic. Since finding a gay gene will neither make homosexuality morally or socially acceptable nor will it diminish homophobia, it is clearly the wrong place to be looking. The gay gene debate and arguments over whether it is genetic or not are superfluous and can have no real impact on the important aspects of the discussion of whether homosexuality should be acceptable.”[31]

Evolution and Homosexuality

Now we come to another problem on this topic that further undoes the born gay theory; evolution. If homosexuality has its roots only in genetic and biological causes than it overturns evolution simply because it still persists! Evolution would require only the most beneficial traits for survival and reproduction to be passed on through natural selection. If homosexuals don’t produce offspring, for obvious reasons, than how could their genes be passed on for millions of years?

Bailey writes, “Frankly, the biggest problem of the genetic possibilities is the evolutionary problem. And I don’t think that Dean [Hamer] has taken that problem seriously enough.”[32] Lee Ellis, a sociologist for Minot State University, writes of homosexuality being rare, “Evolution isn’t very good at explaining oddities.”[33] Bergman writes, “Since nature would consistently select those organisms with stronger heterosexual drives, it would become stronger and stronger until it would eventually become the all-encompassing human drive, more important than food and other life preservation needs. Evolution would not select for length of life beyond childbearing years, but primarily for the number of offspring that an individual was able to produce… Homosexuality would obviously usually not produce higher levels of reproduction than heterosexuality—evolutionary selection would consistently work in the opposite direction, selecting for heterosexuality—and any biological factors positively influencing homosexual feelings would rapidly be selected out. Homosexuality is thus not easy to explain from this world view.”[34]

Though many scientists have tried to rationalize homosexuality and evolution their theories are always incredibly vague, full of loop holes, and/or dependant on very creative speculations of human homosexuality millions of years ago, and therefore easily refuted. This has in fact lead many evolutionists to conclude that homosexuality is in fact influenced by environmental, sociological, and physiological causes as well. After all, genetically alone, it cannot be explained via evolution. It pushes one into a corner. If you believe homosexuality is purely genetic you must deny evolution. If you believe in evolution, you must deny homosexuality is purely genetic.

This does open the door to the possibility that a creationist could believe that homosexuality is purely genetic. Couldn’t God have created people gay? And if a gay gene was to be found hypothetically, doesn’t that mean God is creating people gay? This would of course overlook two topics in the scripture of the Bible. One being that homosexuality is not approved of by God, and two, we live in a fallen world cursed with sin. After all, children are born everyday with all kinds of genetic disorders which we never attribute to God, but instead the effects of a sin cursed world. So even if we were to find a gay gene that still doesn’t mean God intended or wanted them to be that way. To do so would suggest that God intentionally wanted a child to be born with autism or a chromosome disorder. As Bergman writes, “The Creator-designed sexual orientation is heterosexual, and any deviation from this must be due to an aberration in either biological or psychological development.”[35]

Homosexuals Against the “Born Gay” Theory

 

There tends to be a generalization made in reading articles like these in that the author and all noted doctors and scientists quoted are anti-homosexual, and are therefore hell bent on destroying homosexual progress. But the “born gay” theory is opposed by homosexuals as well, which should not be overlooked on this topic.

Karla Mantilla, an author for the lesbian-feminist journal Off Our Backs: A Woman’s News Journal, wrote, “Of course it’s a choice—how could it not be?”[36] Gay writer Joe Sartelle writes, “”I think that the popularity of biological accounts of homosexual desire among gay people has to be understood as a way of coping with deeply-rooted homophobia. What else can it be when we defend ourselves by saying things like, “Do you think anybody would choose to be this way?” This is a defensive position, one that implicitly accepts that there is something wrong with homosexuality, that it is indeed an abnormality which demands to be explained.”[37] A multitude of resources for the viewpoint that homosexuality is a choice and not genetically predetermined can be found at http://www.queerbychoice.com.

 

Why Does It Matter?

 

The “Born Gay” Theory needs to be addressed for multiple reasons: 1) To believe in such is simply put, bad science. 2) Believing in such will not help the homosexuals inAmerica(in fact, many argue that finding a primary genetic cause will lead to genetic testing of embryos that would influence abortion and could lead to the eventual extermination of homosexuals). 3) This belief destroys the possibility of therapy for homosexuality because it falsely asserts that you cannot change who you are.

As Harren writes, “The inaccurate concept that homosexuality is solely biological is extremely misleading. Many therapists tell their clients that homosexuality is biological and therefore unchangeable. These therapists encourage their clients to embrace a gay identity, even when such clients are seeking change for their orientation. In doing so, therapists negate clients’ rights to self-determination. Clients have the right to choose their own goals for therapy and should be allowed to pursue the path they desire. Clients should not be discouraged from pursuing change when change is what they seek. In order for clients to have the options made available to them, it is vital that therapists as well as clients become better educated on this issue.”[38]

The therapy for homosexuals itself is heavily criticized by activists because it asserts that homosexuality is a problem that needs to be corrected. Advocates for therapy on the other hand assert that is a choice that can be corrected. And that giving homosexuals the opportunity to change their orientation should not be frowned upon. But it is hard to formulate your own unbiased opinion on the matter when the media has been overwhelmingly biased on the issue. As Byrd writes, “Whenever any form of reorientation therapy is discussed in the mainstream media, it usually involves someone who either never went through such therapy, or went through a faith-based process and became disillusioned. This is poor journalism and doesn’t serve the public. Consumers of print media and broadcast media deserve better information. We are asking for a fair hearing of our work – not distortions or characterizations.”[39]

It is in fact the reparative therapy of homosexuals itself that further dismantles the “born gay” theory. After all, if homosexuality is a purely genetic or biologically caused behavior, how can it be treated? The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuals has a long list of successful cases of rehabilitation. There is the successful PFOX (Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays) non-profit organization. There is also faith-based rehabilitation programs like HA (Homosexuals Anonymous). To account all the men and women that by self testimony declared themselves to have been treated for homosexuality clearly demonstrates that homosexuality is not purely genetic.

The Final Say

 

To conclude, let us ask the question again: Is there genetic or biological proof that people are born gay?

LeVay writes, “Although efforts have been made to establish the biological basis of sexual orientation, for example, by the application of cytogenetic, endocrinological, or neuroanatomical methods, these efforts have largely failed to establish any consistent differences between homosexual and heterosexual individuals.”[40]

Byne writes, “What evidence exists thus far of innate biological traits underlying homosexuality is flawed.”[41]

Bergman writes, “The extant empirical research supports the creationists’ hypothesis, concluding that homosexuality is due either to environmental, social or physiological pathology. The research which indicates biological factors are involved in homosexuality does not conclude that biology is destiny, only that certain abnormal factors, both genetic and environmental, influence the development of the eventual sexual response. That these are abnormal supports the conclusion that the Creator designed a sexual response which fulfills the goal to reproduce, multiply and bond, and that other sexual responses are not designed, but are the result of pathological factors.”[42]

Harren writes, “Although not supported by the research, many therapists believe that homosexuality is solely biological in nature, and therefore unchangeable. Yet despite ongoing efforts, researchers have not discovered a biological basis for same-sex attractions. In fact, many researchers hypothesize that a homosexual orientation stems from a combination of biological and environmental factors.”[43]

Whitehead writes, “Genes are responsible for an indirect influence, but on average, they do not force people into homosexuality. This conclusion has been well known in the scientific community for a few decades but has not reached the general public. Indeed, the public increasingly believes the opposite.”[44]

And even Bocklandt points out that after 14 years of research there has been no evidence that genes are the sole cause of homosexuality and no one has yet to pinpoint the base pairs that could cause it.[45]

In conclusion I think it is most appropriate to assert that there are a wide variety of causes for homosexuality, and though our genetics play a role in the equation, the role is a very small role. Is this good or bad to gay the community? I’d say neither, it is neutral. For Christians it doesn’t matter whether homosexuality is genetic or not because it doesn’t change Christian theology. But one thing is for sure: There is no one that will benefit from maintaining the unscientific notion that people are “born gay.”


[1] Lewis, R., (2008) “Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications,”McGraw-Hill,New York:NY, pp. 113

[2] LeVay, S.,  (September 2000) “The ‘Gay’ Brain Revisited,” http://www.nerve.com

[3] Lewis, R., (2008) “Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications,”McGraw-Hill,New York:NY, pp. 114

[4] Lewis, R., (2008) “Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications,”McGraw-Hill,New York:NY, pp. 114

[5] Lewis, R., (2008) “Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications,”McGraw-Hill,New York:NY, pp. 114

[6] LeVay, S.,  (September 2000) “The ‘Gay’ Brain Revisited,” http://www.nerve.com

[7] Abrams, M., (June 2007) “The Real Story on Gay Genes,” http://www.discovermagazine.com

[8] Hendricks, M., (September 2000) “In The Hands of Babes,” John Hopkins Magazine, http://www.jhu.edu

[9] (August 2006) “Media Campaign In Colorado Waged Over ‘Born Gay’ Theory,” http://www.narth.com

[10] Sherr, L., & Diamond, J., (March 2008) “Is There A ‘Gay Gene?’” http://www.abcnews.go.com

[11] (January 2005) “Is There A ‘Gay Gene?’ New Genetic Regions Associated with Male Sexual Orientation Found,” http://www.webmd.com

[12] Abrams, M., (June 2007) “The Real Story on Gay Genes,” http://www.discovermagazine.com

[13] Abrams, M., (June 2007) “The Real Story on Gay Genes,” http://www.discovermagazine.com

[14] Byrd, A.D., (April 2007) “’Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired;’ Concludes Dr. Francis S. Collins, Head of the Human Genome Project,” http://www.narth.com

[15] Byne, W., (1994) “The Biological Evidence Challenged,” Scientific American 270(5):26-31, pp. 26.

[16] Santtila, P., Sandnabba, N.K., Harlaar, N., Varjonen, M., Alanko, K., & von der Pahlen, B. (2008). “Potential for homosexual response is prevalent and genetic,” Biological Psychology, 77(1), pp. 102-105

[17] Whitehead, N.E., (December 2010) “Latest Twin Study Confirms Genetic Contribution to SSA is Minor,” http://www.narth.com

[18] Bearman, P.S., & Bruckner, H., (2002) “Opposite-sex twins and adolescent same-sex attraction,” American Journal of Sociology 107,  pp. 1179-1205.

[19] Byrd, A.D., (April 2007) “’Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired;’ Concludes Dr. Francis S. Collins, Head of the Human Genome Project,” http://www.narth.com

[20] LeVay, S.,  (September 2000) “The ‘Gay’ Brain Revisited,” www.nerve.com

[21] LeVay, S., (1991) “A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men.” Science 253:1034–1037, pp. 1034.

[22] Bergman, J., ( April, 1995) “Creationism and the Problem of Homosexual Behavior,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[23] Lewis, R., (2008) “Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications,”McGraw-Hill,New York:NY, pp. 114

[24] Harren, J., “Homosexuality 101: What Every Therapist, Parent and Homosexual Should Know,” http://www.narth.com

[25] Bergman, J., ( April, 1995) “Creationism and the Problem of Homosexual Behavior,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[26] Hubbard, R. & Wald, E., (1993) Exploding the Gene Myth: How genetic information is produced and manipulated by scientists, physicians, employers, insurance companies, educators, and law enforcers, Beacon Press, Boston; MA, pp. 94-95.

[27] Byrd, A.D., (April 2007) “’Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired;’ Concludes Dr. Francis S. Collins, Head of the Human Genome Project,” http://www.narth.com

[28] Rudansky, A., (April 2010) “NU Prof. Bailey Researching Possible ‘Gay Gene,’” http://www.dailynorthwestern.com

[29] Weston, J.H., (June 2006) “If Gay Brother Research is Correct It Shows Homosexuality Is Not Normal,” http://www.lifesitenews.com

[30] Bergman, J., ( April, 1995) “Creationism and the Problem of Homosexual Behavior,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[31] Yee, N., “Will A Gay Gene Get Us Anywhere?” http://www.nickyee.com

[32] Abrams, M., (June 2007) “The Real Story on Gay Genes,” http://www.discovermagazine.com

[33] Lucentini, J., (February 2001) “In Search of the ‘Gay Gene,’” The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com

[34] Bergman, J., ( April, 1995) “Creationism and the Problem of Homosexual Behavior,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[35] Bergman, J., ( April, 1995) “Creationism and the Problem of Homosexual Behavior,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[36] Mantilla, K., (1999) “Biology My Ass,” Off Our Backs: A Woman’s News Journal, as noted at http://www.queerbychoice.com

[37] Sartelle, J., (May 1994) “Rejecting the Gay Brain (and Choosing Homosexuality),” Bad Subjects, No. 14 as noted at http://www.queerbychoice.com

[38] Harren, J., “Homosexuality 101: What Every Therapist, Parent and Homosexual Should Know,” http://www.narth.com

[39] NARTH Press Release (May 2007) “NARTH Urges Media to Accurately Report on Reparative Therapy,” http://www.narth.com

[40] LeVay, S., (1991) “A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men,” Science 253:1034–1037, pp. 1034.

[41] Byne, W., (1994) “The biological evidence challenged,” Scientific American 270(5):26-31, pp. 26.

[42] Bergman, J., ( April, 1995) “Creationism and the Problem of Homosexual Behavior,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[43] Harren, J., “Homosexuality 101: What Every Therapist, Parent and Homosexual Should Know,” http://www.narth.com

[44] Whitehead, N.E., “The Importance of Twin Studies,” http://www.narth.com

[45] Abrams, M., (June 2007) “The Real Story on Gay Genes,” http://www.discovermagazine.com

“When the first molecular geneticists worked out the details of transcription and translation in the 1960s, they never imagined that only 1.5 percent of human DNA encodes protein. What does the “other” 98.5 percent do? It includes viral sequences, sequences that encode RNAs other than mRNA (called noncoding or ncRNAs), introns, promoters and other control sequences, and repeated sequences… Most of the genome is transcribed- it isn’t ‘junk.’”[1] –Dr. Ricki Lewis, Geneticist and Genetic Counselor for CareNet medical Group

 

 

“When James Watson and Francis Crick solved the structure of DNA in 1953, Crick formulated the “Central Dogma” of molecular biology, often stated as “DNA makes RNA makes protein makes us.” This implies that mutations in protein-coding DNA provide the raw materials for evolution. In the 1960s, however, biologists discovered that about 98% of our DNA does not code for protein. Some — including Crick — called the non-protein-coding DNA “junk” and attributed it to the accumulation of molecular accidents during evolution.

Since the mid 1990s, some defenders of Darwinian evolution — including Richard Dawkins, Kenneth R. Miller, Douglas J. Futuyma, Michael Shermer, Francis S. Collins, Philip Kitcher, Jerry A. Coyne and John C. Avise — have argued that “junk DNA” provides evidence for Darwinian evolution and against intelligent design. (Intelligent design, or ID, is the view that we can infer from evidence in nature that some features of the world, including some features of living things, are better explained by an intelligent cause than by unguided natural processes.)

By 2007, however, it was clear that most of the mammalian genome is transcribed into non-protein-coding RNA. Since organisms struggling for survival would presumably not invest so much energy in producing junk, this implied that most non-protein-coding DNA is probably not junk after all.

Since then, specific biological functions have been discovered for many non-protein-coding RNAs. Although functions have not yet been identified for many parts of our genome, the list of specific functions for so-called “junk DNA” is already long, and it grows longer every week. Defending Darwinism and criticizing ID on the grounds that most of our genome is junk amounts to a “Darwinof the gaps” argument that has to retreat with each new discovery.”[2] –Jonathan Wells, Molecular and Cellular Biologist

“…molecular taxonomists, who have been drawing up evolutionary histories (‘phylogenies’) for everything, are going to have to undo all their years of ‘junk DNA’-based historical reconstructions and wait for the full implications to emerge before they try again. One of the supposedly ‘knock-down’ arguments that humans have a common ancestor with chimpanzees is shared ‘non-functional’ DNA coding. That argument just got thrown out the window.”[3] Dr. Alex Williams, Botanist and Radioecologist

 

“‘Junk’ DNA is thought by evolutionists to be useless DNA leftover from past evolutionary permutations. According to the selfish or parasitic DNA theory, this DNA persists only because of its ability to replicate itself, or perhaps because it has randomly mutated into a form advantageous to the cell. The types of junk DNA include introns, pseudogenes, and mobile and repetitive DNAs. But now many of the DNA sequences formerly relegated to the junk pile have begun to obtain new respect for their role in genome structure and function, gene regulation and rapid speciation. On the other hand, there are examples of what seem to be true junk DNAs, sequences that had lost their functions, either to mutational inactivation that could have occurred post-Fall, or by God-ordained time limits set on their functions.

Criteria are presented by which to identify legitimate junk DNA, and to try to decipher the genetic clues of how genomes function now and in the past, when rates of change of genomes may have been very different. The rapid, catastrophic changes in the earth caused by the Flood may also have been mirrored in genomes, as each species had to adapt to post-Flood conditions. A new creationist theory may explain how this rapid diversification came about by the changes caused by repetitive and mobile DNA sequences. The so-called ‘junk’ DNAs that have perplexed creationists and evolutionary scientists alike may be the very elements that can explain the mechanisms by which God is at work in His creation now and in the past.”[4] –Dr. Linda K. Walkup, Biochemist and Molecular Geneticist

.

“We are now seeing the majority of the rest of the genome is active to some extent… This is a remarkable finding, since most prior research suggested only a fraction of the genome was transcribed.”[5] –Dr. Tim Hubbard, Head of the Human Genome Analysis

 

“A number of studies have now confirmed that this “junk DNA” is functional. A 2004 study suggested that this class of DNA, comprising more than 1/3 of mouse DNA, is involved in controlling the complex sequence of events during embryo development. A study in 2009 showed that retro-transposons are located before and after protein coding genes; they do not occur at random. Ones located before the protein-coding genes enable multiple readings for the genes: the genes can produce different proteins using different starting points in the supposedly “junk” DNA. Some enable genes to be ‘read’ in the opposite direction to normal, again producing an entirely different protein. Ones that follow the genes regulate the gene activity, controlling how much of the protein the cell produces. The researchers found some 23,000 such likely regulatory regions in the ‘junk’. Clearly, the idea of junk DNA is junk science. Not only is evolution bad for theology; it’s bad for science as well.”[6] –Dr. Don Batten, Horticulturist and Plant Scientist

 

 

“It is hoped that studying the non-coding sequences will lead to a greater understanding of disease processes. The likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes has already been linked to mutations in non-coding sequences… Unfortunately, for many years this notion that non-coding DNA was not functional (“junk”) actually inhibited science.”[7] -Dr. Georgia Purdom, Molecular Geneticist

 

“These new discoveries are prompting scientists to think twice about dismissing such a large portion of the genome as nothing but ‘junk.’”[8] Dr. Leslie Pray, Population Geneticist


[1] Lewis, R. (2008) Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications, McGraw-Hill,New York; NY, pp. 208

[2] Wells, J., (October, 2011) “The Receding Myth of ‘Junk DNA,’” Evolution News and Views, www.evolutionnews.org.

[3] Williams, A., (June 2007) “Astonishing DNA Complexity Uncovered,” creation.com

[4] Walkup, L.K., (August 2000) “’Junk’ DNA: Evolutionary Discards or God’s Tools?” Technical Journal, 14(2); pp. 18

[5] (June 2007) “Human Genome Further Unraveled,” BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk

[6] Batten, D., “The Lingering Death of Junk DNA,” creation.com

[7] Purdom, G., (August 2007) “’Junk’ DNA- Past, Present, and Future,” Answers in Genesis, www.answersingenesis.org

[8] Pray, L., (2008) “Transposons, or Jumping Genes: not Junk DNA?” Scitable by Nature Education, http://www.nature.com

 

Christianity all revolves around a critical facet of the New Testament; the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. If Jesus never resurrected from the dead that Christianity is pointless for the most part. His conquering of death is the climax of His divine life. Though there are many conspiracies regarding whether Jesus died or not, there is one in particular regarding His burial that stands out. This is the conspiracy that Jesus’ body was eaten by dogs or other wild animals. And therefore there was no resurrection because there was no body left to resurrect.

Before proceeding, it should first be put to rest the debate on whether Jesus was actually crucified. The vast majority of scholars (secular and non-secular) agree Jesus was crucified. The writers of the gospels wrote an incredibly detailed and accurate account of it. It was also the most shameful way to die, which leads one conclude the stories were not concocted, as why would followers write of their Messiah dying in the most humiliating and shameful way? Unless it was true. Also non-Christian Roman historian Tactitus recorded Jesus’ crucifixion. So rest assured it can be logically established that Jesus was crucified. But what happened to Jesus’ body after it was crucified.

J.D. Crossan writes, “The norm was to let the crucified rot on the cross or be cast aside for carrion.”[1] Crossan believes Jesus most likely incurred the same fate of being left on the cross, his body then eaten by wild animals. Crossan’s conclusion is reached from evidence from the historical event from AD70 when Emperor Titus captured and crucified 2,000 Jewish rebels leaving their bodies to rot on the crosses from which they hung. There are numerous occasions when mass executions were recorded in Rome with bodies left to rot. Many Roman writers mentioned crucifixion in their literature, “The Vulture hurries, from dead cattle to dead dogs to crosses.”[2] Lastly Crossan points out that of the tens of thousands of crucified people killed for centuries, only one bone has been found of a crucified person. This, he claims, is testimony that the crucified had their bodies consumed by wild animals.

“In the ancient mind, the supreme honor of crucifixion was to lose public mourning, to forfeit proper burial, to lie separate from one’s ancestors forever… In normal circumstances the soldiers guarding the body until death and thereafter it was left for carrion crow, scavenger, dog, or other wild beast to finish the brutal job. That non-burial consummated the authority’s dreadful warning to any observer and every passerby.” John Dominic Crossan, Jesus Seminar.[3]

Jewish Law:

Sure, in most areas of theRoman Empirecrucified bodies were left for the wild animals. But Jesus was crucified inJudea, a Jewish country. AndJudeawas governed by Jewish Law, particularly Deut. 21:22-23; “If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance (NIV),” and Ezekiel 39:14-16, “People will be continually employed in cleansing the land. They will spread out across the land and, along with others, they will bury any bodies that are lying on the ground. After the seven months they will carry out a more detailed search. As they go through the land, anyone who sees a human bone will leave a marker beside it until the gravediggers bury it in theValleyofHamon Gog, near a town called Hamonah.And so they will cleanse the land (NIV).”

The Temple Scroll from Qumran from before the time of Christ also testifies to this, “You shall not allow bodies to remain on a tree overnight most assuredly, you shall bury them, even on the very day of their death,”[4]  The Jewish Book of Tobit written between the OT and the NT says that burying an abandoned corpse is an act of supreme piety.[5]

Rabbis of the time also recorded that even the death of criminals deserved proper burial.[6] Then take into consideration that Jesus died on the eve of a significant Jewish holiday, Passover. If there is one time you don’t break Jewish law, it’s a major holiday like Passover. That’s plenty of motivation to bury Jesus’ body, which is exactly the gospels say happened. Now you might be thinking, so what? Roman Law supersedes Jewish Law, so it doesn’t matter what the Jewish Law were.

Roman Law:

True it didn’t matter what the Jewish Laws were during periods of war. Like the Jewish revolt in AD 70, when the Romans crucified thousands of Jews and left their bodies to rot on crosses. But we’re talking about Jesus’ crucifixion forty years earlier. Jesus wasn’t crucified during a time of war, but in fact during a relatively peaceful time inJerusalem.

During times of peace, Romans respected the laws of the nations they controlled, in this case the Jewish law. Jewish-Roman historian Josephus wrote the following, “The Romans do not require… their subjects to violate national laws.”[7] Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria wrote the following of Jewish practices, “I’ve known cases when, on the eve of a holiday of this sort, people who have been crucified were taken down, their bodies handed over to the families, because it was considered good to give them burial and allow their ordinary rites. It was appropriate that the dead also should have the advantage of kindness upon the emperor’s birthday and also that the sanctity of the festival should be maintained.”[8]

Josephus records an event where Herod Antipas gave the body of John the Baptist back to his disciples after John was beheaded.[9] It is very probable Pontius Pilate gave the body of Jesus back to His family based off what was common place at that time, even though Roman law didn’t command it. It would have been in Pilate’s best interest to keep the peace anyways before such a big Jewish festival took place.

Even the Roman Law itself allowed leeway for this. Pandectae summarized Roman legal code for crucifixion as follows; “The bodies of those who are condemned to death should not be refused their relatives; and [Caesar] Augustus the Divine, in the tenth book of his Vita, said that this rule had been observed. At present the bodies of those who have been punished are only buried when this has been requested and permission granted; and sometimes it is not permitted, especially when the persons have been committed of high treason… The body of persons have been punished should be given to whoever requests them for the purpose of burial.”[10]

So then why is their so much recorded history of people being left on the cross and their bodies left to rot and be picked apart by wild animals? Because being crucified was the ultimate form of humiliation, torture and death, reserved only for the worst criminals. It was the most shame one could endure. So if a family member was crucified it would be a shame to the family to take the body down. Many people sent to the cross were disowned by their families. Then take into consideration that theRoman empirecovered vast regions of the earth were there were no Jewish inhabitants with such strict burial laws and it becomes clear why there are so many accounts of bodies being left to rot on the cross. But when taking into consideration Roman and Jewish law and the circumstances of Jesus’ death on the eve of Passover, there is no reason to assume Jesus’ body was left to rot.

What about their being only one bone of a crucified person found? This claim comes from the fact that there has only been one bone discovered in which a crucifixion nail was still imbedded in the bone. But there could be dozens of reasons why only one has been found in such a fashion: Not all crucifixions involved nails penetrating actual bone. If a body was taken off a cross the nails would be removed and why would someone bury the crucified body along with the nails? Just because we haven’t found any more bones with nails in them doesn’t mean they’re not out there. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And just because nails were not found among the skeletal remains of a body does not mean there was no crucifixion. In other words, it’s quite a stretch to draw such a conclusion that only one bone found with a nail means that all crucified bodies were eaten by wild animals.

In conclusion, if one understands Jewish and Roman Law and crucifixion practices at that time, it becomes pretty clear that there is no basis to speculate Jesus’ body was left to rot, eaten by wild animals.


[1] J.D. Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, (Harper One 1995) Pg. 127

[2] Juvenal, Satires 14:77-78

[3] As quoted in Crossan and Reed’s, Excavating Jesus; Beneath the Stones, Behind the Text, (Harper Collins 2002) pg.290-291; J.D. Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, (Harper One 1995) Pg.153.

[4]11QT64:11-13, 4Q524l 11QT48:10-14

[5] Book of Tobit 1:18-20, 2:3-8, 4:3-4,14:10-13

[6] Mishnah Sanhedrin 6:4-6

[7] Josephus, Contra Apionem, 2:6

[8] Philo of Alexandria, In Flaccus, 10.81-85

[9] Josephus, Antiquities Judaica, 18:5

[10] Corpus Iuris Civilis, Pandectae 48.24.1-3