by Russell Odell © 1979
Reprinted with permission from the Ask Why web site.
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As an agnostic I have trouble believing in the virgin birth of Christ. It is an unusual birth. However, if you study Nature you will find there are marry spectacular and unbelievable births, one more bewildering than the other. Einstein believed in a Creator, although he could not define the Creator. I will start with the premise that there is a Creator in the scheme of things. I think it is reasonable to have this thought in mind because the last words of knowledge have yet to be written. We still have much to consider and learn.
One of the most bizarre mating I have I ever read is described in Steve Parker’s book, Ocean Life, on page 73,
When a male deep sea anglerfish finds a female, he bites her and never lets go! His mouth grows into her skin, his body merges into hers and he becomes part of the female. Almost all of his internal organs disappear, apart from the testes which are needed for breeding. The male spends the rest of his life as a shrunken parasite on his mate, useful only for providing the sperm which fertilizes her eggs at breeding time.
This is a scientific fact, not just a theory. After reading this, I wonder how many would believe this it they read it in Genesis? Maybe we would be inclined to say it was a biblical myth. Such things don’t happen. But, the author of this book gained First Class Honors in Zoology, then worked as an exhibition scientist at London’s Natural History Museum. He became a full time writer and editor in 1984 and has written several books.
Another strange birthing is found with the little sea horse, an ocean fish measuring from two to fourteen inches. The male, not the female, gets pregnant and gives birth to the offspring. There are 35 species of sea horses and their size varies They swim vertically by beating their dorsal fin 70 times a second (the hummingbird beats it wings about the same frequency). David Attenborough writes in his book The Trial of Life, on page 26:
Three or four days before mating, the male develops a pouch on his belly. The female squirts several thousand eggs into his pouch in about five seconds. The male then dumps his sperm into the pouch and the eggs become fertilized. In about two weeks, the male gives birth to more than a thousand babies.
If you read this in the creation story of Genesis that a male becomes pregnant and gives birth to more than a thousand babies, would you believe it? Of course not. Who ever heard of a male of any specie becoming pregnant? But this is a scientific fact, not a theory
The oyster is one of the 15,000 species of Mollusks. They developed during the Cretaceous Period about 135 million years ago. Oysters attached themselves to rocks where they live for 10 to 15 years.
The male of the American-Canadian specie releases his sperm into the water. The female then releases her eggs. As the eggs float by and through the sperm they become fertilized. This contact between the egg and the sperm is purely a chance happening. Thousands of eggs never make contact. If the water is cool, the fertilized eggs will hatch in 10 to 12 hours. If the water is warm they will hatch in 5 to 6 hours.
The European oyster has a similar method but it is a little different. The male releases his sperm into the water. When the female oyster senses the sperm, she draws it into her shell. Here it fertilizes the eggs. The fertilized eggs are then released into the water. If you were to read in Genesis how these two oyster specie propagated themselves would you believe it? I wouldn’t. It sounds too mythological. Sperm and eggs floating out into the water and coming together? The male and female oyster never touching each other? You will note that the female oyster always remains a virgin! Hard to believe, isn’t it? However, you can read about it in Jacques Cousteau’s book The Ocean World. It is a fact, not a theory. Here is undoubted proof that virgin births do happen.
Creatures that can change their sex is another mystery of the unknown. It is a common occurrence in Nature. However, you will not read about such a miracle in Genesis. If you did, you wouldn’t believe it anyway. The clown fish that lives amongst the poisonous tentacles of the anemones is one of the fish species that can change their sex. If the breeding female dies, the partner changes his sex, becomes a female and mates with another male. Sounds like a scientific myth, doesn’t it? Just a fairy-tale? No, it is a fact, not a myth.
Even more spectacular are some of the species of the lizards that can give birth to young without mating with a male. Remember, if the male is not involved we have a virgin birth. Attenborough writes on page 288 of the same quoted book:
At least twenty seven species belonging to seven different families exist mostly, if not entirely, as females. None of these individuals, however, can reproduce herself if in solitude. Each needs the encouragement and stimulation of another female, who plays the part of the courting male. Such a pseudo-male will later, with the help of another companion, produce her own clutch. (It is a type of parthenogenesis.)
Now we come to a strange phenomenon called parthenogenesis It was discovered by Charles Bonnet (1720-1793) a Swiss entomologist. He became deaf at the age of seven and was blind since early youth. He discovered that the infertile eggs of some insects, like the aphids and the bee would hatch. From the Encyclopedia of Insects and Arachnids by Maurice and Robert Button, pages 13 and 14, we can read of the parthenogenesis birth of the aphid. This tiny garden pest propagates without the male. Not only are the babies born at virgin mothers, they are born pregnant! Would you believe this if you read it in Genesis? The Buttons write:
A single parthenogenetic female, with her offsprings, could produce in a year, it they all survived, a weight equal to 500,000,000 stout will men. (That number is the figure 5, followed by 8 zeros.)
I close by telling you a little about the hermaphroditism mode of reproduction. If you think the foregoing methods of reproduction were different from the norm, hermaphroditism will blow your mind. I will take this directly from Jacques Cousteau’s book The Ocean world, page 26:
Hermaphroditism is the condition which an individual animal possesses the reproduction organs of both sexes. It can increase the reproductive potential of a species, since eggs are produced by all the individuals instead of only half, as in the case in species with separate sexes. Also, in solitary or rare species it guarantees that whenever two individuals meet, mating can take place, because each individual has both sperm and eggs.
Cousteau continues with:
Hermaphroditism is the normal mode of reproduction in many animals. For instance, the sea hare is a marine snail without a shell. At mating time one sea hare climbs on the back of another. Both face the same direction with the on behind fertilizing the eggs of the one in front. A third may, mount the second so that its eggs are being fertilized while it is supplying sperm to the sea hare in front. In this manner long chains of mating individuals may form. Sometimes the first individual will swing around and mount the last so that the circle is closed. All the mating animals are thus simultaneously fertilizing the eggs plus being fertilized themselves. Some species don’t rely on locating others of their species. The are capable of using their sperm to fertilize their own eggs.
Read that last sentence again! Such a birthing procedure excels all others. Would you believe this if you read it in Genesis? I don’t think I would. However, this is a scientific fact, not a myth or a theory.
These are all very spectacular births. So spectacular as to be unbelievable. But, each one is true happenings, happening every day that the sun rises and sets. However, religion has developed the outrageous birthing of all. They have concocted a story where a heavenly special spirit comes from heaven and hovering over a young Jewish girl makes her pregnant without any physical means. This is sort of how the oysters do it and the lizards that Attenborough told us about. However, there is a catch to the story. It is said that this Jewish girl impregnated by God as a spirit gave birth to God incarnate in the form of the baby Jesus. This is the belief in the Trinity (another interesting mythical story.
This sounds like the shenanigans of the over-sexed Greek god Zeus that had hot pants for many of the goddesses, nymphs and an occasionally a Homo sapiens. The Greek myth claims he had 115 sexual partners that gave raise to 140 children. When these little bastards grew up, they too, became gods and goddesses.
If you are curious as to how many gods there has been through the ages of time, read the Encyclopedia of Gods by Michael Jordan, who lists and describes over 2,500 deities that have appeared through time. It would, no doubt, be interesting how each god came into existence. I believe each and every one of them, including the present, were created by man when his superstitions overcame his powers of reasoning.