Re: Pentecost responses

> thoughtful people."  Science is not interested in miracles, nor is it in
> conflict with them, because it does not deal in unique events.  Francis
> Bacon understood this perfectly at the dawn of western science.  I think
> his dictum was "De singularibus non est scientia".  (Quoted from memory,
> so excuse any latin howlers.) If "the Virgin Mary had a baby boy", that
> does not challenge science in the least.  Science is content to record
> that the _probability_ of a virgin having any baby is negligibly small.

This might JUST be correct IF all the other evidence pointed to an
overwhelming likelihood that the "event" had been carefully observed and
no mistake made in assessing the situation. However, this is very far
from being the case here, and the scientific rule is that if you can
explain something equally well without resorting to an infringement of
the laws of nature, then it is better to do so. In this case the
evidence in the other direction is itself overwhelming.

1. References to this Virgin birth do not occur in the earliest Gospel
2. In the two Gospels where it does, they do not even agree.
3. The motive of fulfilling the "prophecy" alone explains the idea, the
prophecy itself based on a mistranslation and a misunderstanding.
4. Virgin or spectacular births for outstanding men, like Plato, the
Buddha, Alexander, Cyrus etc. were not only commonplace, but almost
expected. (Do we accept them in these other cases?)
5. The SYMBOLIC motive is also strong, as the way Philo of Alexandria
treats the post-menopause and therefore "miraculous" account of the
birth of Isaac shows. It is generally agreed, I believe, among Patristic
scholars, that the treatise on "De Isaac" which we know Philo wrote, was
probably suppressed by Christian copyists as being too near the bone for
comfort. This is certainly the opinion of Goodenough and J. Danielou. In
addition, the Hellenistic Mystery Religions were well acquainted with
"Virgin Mother" goddesses, and there is no doubt that historically the
BVM took over the role of the Magna Mater in Mediterranean countries.

This all makes it effectively certain that the virgin birth narratives
in Matthew and Luke are a LITERARY DEVICE and have no basis in an actual
event, so "science" here has nothing to explain. Talk about "Science is
not interested in miracles, nor is it in conflict with them, because it
does not deal in unique events" is very disingenuous in such
circumstances. Science very much IS interested in pretended breakings of
the known laws of causality. What is meant is that fundamentalists wish
to goodness science would leave them alone to believe and promote any
idea they like - in spite of the real evidence on the subject.

John Richards                                       Stackpole Elidor (UK)