Archives for posts with tag: life

The “Virgin Birth” — how did that work, exactly? Did God use one of Mary’s ova, and add a sperm of his own? (By the way, how can he make a sperm — or any thing at all — if he’s immaterial? And when did he make it, if he’s eternal?) Or, did he implant a ready-made zygote — or an embryo — or a fetus? Which was it? And in all of these cases, did he adjust Mary’s hormone levels to prevent rejection? If so, how was the adjustment carried out? — if not, how did he prevent rejection?

Those are ridiculous questions. It was a miracle. Maybe you’re unclear on the concept.

I think you are the one who is unclear. The details of the miracle matter very much, for the following reason: if you can’t tell me how it happened, then you can’t tell me what you believe.

I believe that Jesus was born without Mary having had sex with a man. That’s called the Virgin Birth.

But how was it done? So far we have, “In December of one year she was a virgin; in December of the following year she had a baby.” Unless we know more, this is not actually a very unusual story.

In between, there was a miracle!

But what does that mean? The word is supplying no information. Is that what you believe? — god did something magical, but we don’t know what?

He made a baby!

But human couples do that every day.

But he did it in a different way.

Different, how?

There was no man! There was no sex!

Don’t tell me how it wasn’t, I want to know how it was. Let me put it this way: how was what God did more miraculous than two humans having sex? I mean, that way is pretty amazing. What did God do that was more amazing than that?

How could I know that?

I have no idea how you could know! — but if you don’t know, then how are we to understand what it is that you are saying that you believe in? You are amazed and inspired by God’s having done… what?

As far as I can tell, to say it was a miracle is the same as saying you don’t know what happened. Does it make sense to call that a belief? “I believe in something, but I don’t know what exactly” — is that what you’re telling us?

I believe I hate you. Actually, I am quite certain of it.

As far as I can tell, the idea of divine intervention does not mean anything. It is incoherent. Your “belief” in miracles does not just lack empirical support; the very idea is without meaning. Rational rebuttal is unnecessary, because you have made no specific claim. The truth is, I am rapidly losing interest in this topic.

In a recent debate on the motion, “We’d be better off without religion,” Richard Dawkins said (my transcription):

I’ve always found the inspiration [of religion]—’the heavens declare the glory of God’, ‘all things bright and beautiful’, and so on—to be paltry, parochial, small-minded, compared to the inspiration that you can get by looking at the world of science. Deep space; deep time, as the late Carl Sagan showed us; deep complexity in the study of life—the scientific study of these profound, beautiful, elegant mysteries is one of the greatest achievements of the human spirit.

I take issue with this statement. You certainly don’t need religion to see the glory of life on planet Earth and the whole universe around it. But you don’t need “science” either, unless the word refers to just opening your eyes. You only need to open your eyes. Take a look around. Trees. Birds. People. Fruits dripping with juice. The very ground you are standing on. Your own eyes and skin and the love in your heart. Anchor Steam. This place is so improbable, so astonishing, if you look and hear and feel with a decent amount of attention you will be terrified. You don’t need anything. Feel your breath move inside you, adding invisible molecules of oxygen to invisible cells in your blood so you can stay alive. It doesn’t get any more intense, any more real than this. There is no other world, but this one will do. Enjoy it—or at least take a look at it!—during your brief existence here. You will have no other. Pay attention. You don’t need religion, or science, or anything. That you exist is already beyond imagining, and I mean this literally. Just try to imagine that you exist. It makes no sense. It can’t be done. Nor is it necessary, of course. The existing happens by itself, out of nowhere, and back to nowhere. It’s the most peculiar damn thing you ever saw. Science is good; life is beyond good. It is all there is.