DNA and the Virgin Birth


Let me try this again. I should have simply said: “No, it isn’t such an example.” And for multiple reasons.

I should have realized this was purely a trolling exercise by an I.D. proponent. That’s not what these boards are ultimately designed to accomplish.

At least George has enough intolerance and self-righteousness to spread it around equally.

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All you have to do is adopt the stance of many of your fellow Atheists who accept their role as 95% geared to defeat the non-scientific views of Creationists, with 5% dedicated to explaining Atheists to Creationists now and then.

Standing in the background, throwing random grenades at everybody is completely beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned… I would have ejected you long ago.

The Catholic church has a formal process for identifying miracles. It’s probability-based, I think, but I believe they acknowledge it won’t catch all possible miracles.

@Guy_Coe is not an ID proponent. If he is frustrating you, it’s okay to leave this thread.

Oh I have to adopt a stance. On who’s authority? Yours?

@swamidass, if he isn’t an ID proponent, then he seems to be even more unfathomable.

I proposed this as an analogy for another topic. Better folks than I have already investigated this. Perhaps a couple of diagrams from Frank Tipler’s book can inspire some wonder, or do the heavy lifting entailed in the examination of this isuue, and its implications, by analogy. I know @swamidass loves diagrams… ; )

Op. cit.; [“The Physics of Christianity” by Frank J. Tipler, (former?) professor of mathematical physics at Tulane University, and the author of “The Physics of Immortality.”] “A dazzling exercise in scientific speculation, as rigourously argued as it is boldly conceived.” --Wall Street Journal “A thrilling ride to the far edges of modern physics.” “Tipler has written a masterpiece conferring much-craved scientific respectability on what we have always wanted to believe in.” --Science
“The Virgin Birth of Jesus is another miracle that even many scientists have difficulty accepting. They have believed that virgin birth never occurs in humans and that, even if it did, the virgin birth of a male would be impossible because, in a virgin birth, all the genetic information in the child would have to come from the mother, and a male necessarily has a Y chromosome, which exists only in males. But I pointed out that 1 male in 20,000 has two X chromosomes and no Y chromosome, and the DNA on the Turin Shroud, purported to be the burial cloth of Jesus, has that signature… When God acts, He acts on many levels, with many levels of meaning, only some of which are obvious to humans at the time. I proposed several experiments to test my hypothesis that this matter-creating process was in operation 2,000 years ago [ed: referencing the resurrection of Jesus]. If my hypothesis is correct, we can use this process today. [??] Developing the technology to do so is the ultimate test of the physics of Christianity.” [op. cit.; page 270-271]

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Precedent, but, obviously, not equivalence.

I think you misunderstand, @Patrick.

It’s not my authority, it is my observation.

Atheists that don’t attack the sponsoring organization are usually better tolerated than those who do not.

I have no authority here.

5 posts were split to a new topic: Who Sponsors Peaceful Science?

Hi everyone,

Re Frank Tipler’s suggestion for the mechanics of the virginal conception of Jesus, which was taken up by Maria Hsia Chang, in an article for New Oxford Review titled, “The Virgin Birth: Where Science Meets Scripture,” I should point out some useful links:

Jesus, the XX male on the Shroud of Turin blog - scroll down to the final comment by Angel, who suggests that Jesus may have had Klinefelter syndrome (KS) also known as 47,XXY. From Wikipedia:

The primary features are sterility and small testicles.[2][8] Often, symptoms may be subtle and many people do not realize they are affected.[1] Sometimes, symptoms are more prominent and may include weaker muscles, greater height, poor coordination, less body hair, breast growth, and less interest in sex.[1] Often it is only at puberty that these symptoms are noticed.[4] Intelligence is usually normal; however, reading difficulties and problems with speech are more common.

To me it seems theologically inappropriate to suggest that Jesus was conceived with a genetic disease.

And see here for a letter to New Oxford Review criticizing Maria Hsia Chang’s article (scroll down to the letter by Donald Lospinuso titled, “Indefensible assertions”). Money quote:

Tipler and Chang think the XX male resulting from a virgin birth would have only the sex chromosomes of the mother because the mother is the only source of the child’s genome. If this were the case, whence came the SRY, which they know could only come from a male? If both X chromosomes came from the mother, including the one with the SRY, would she herself not be an XX male? This leads to a further gross error: If any offspring has the same genetic makeup as its progenitor, the offspring would be a clone (an exact copy), not truly the offspring of two parents…

So Tipler and Chang are left unable to account for the origin of the SRY and all the other chromosomes to complement the mother’s in their “virgin birth.” They can only say the offspring would be a clone of the progenitor, which is impossible by their own premise that a female gave birth to a male.

One academic has a theory as to how a female could have given birth to a male, parthenogenetically:

… One possibility, according to Prof Berry, is that Mary may have had a condition called testicular feminisation. Women with this condition have an X and a Y chromosome like a man, but their X chromosome carries a mutation that makes their bodies insensitive to testosterone. This leads to their developing as a female.

Genetically male, and probably sporting ambiguous genitals, Mary would have been sterile. But had she become pregnant spontaneously, her child could have inherited an intact Y chromosome.

To stop him developing as a female, like his mother, Jesus would have needed what geneticists call a “back mutation” – a highly unlikely reverse of the X chromosome glitch that caused the testicular feminisation in the first place. Other possibilities to explain the virgin birth include Mary being a genetic mosaic, formed from twins that fused into one body while maintaining chromosomes from both, Y and all.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the scientific possibilities are no more plausible than a miracle…

Some writers have suggested that the DNA evidence from the Shroud of Turin suggests that Jesus was a XX male. However, the DNA on the Shroud of Turin bears evidence of contamination, and is therefore not likely to be a reliable source of information about Jesus’ DNA.

Re the mechanics of the virgin birth, here’s my own take. The data from Scripture and tradition indicates clearly that Jesus took flesh from the Virgin Mary, so we might suppose that God somehow interposed to convert one of the Virgin Mary’s X chromosomes into a Y, after the chromosomes divided.

God would have also had to modify Jesus’ DNA to make sure that He did not get a double copy of any defective genes His mother may have possessed, and to initiate genomic imprinting, which requires genetic input from both parents in the ordinary course of events. These modifications would not have presented any problem to the Divine Author of Nature. My two cents.

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Actually, Tipler entertains several possible scenarios for Jesus possessing either diploidy or haploidy, preferring a very special case of normal male phenotypic diploidy, while nevertheless being an XX male, which is NOT an automatic sentence of genetic disease or even sterility. It’s all on pp. 166-175, esp. 171-174.
I am interested in, but not necessarily yet invested in, his approach. If Lospinuso had ever even read those pages, he’d know his criticism was inaccurate.
Your proposal, @vjtorley , is very close to what Tipler proposes; what you describe as “modifications” he calls “insertions.” He then goes into the mathematical probabilities for such a suggestion, concluding that, even given a multiverse, it’s so improbable as to be a “miracle” of necessity in the design of a redeemable universe.

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If the scenarios intended for discussion here usually involve the evolution of one population of humans, along with the de novo creation of Adam and Eve, spending bandwidth on wildly speculative scientific (and non-scientific) explanations for the miraculous birth of any or all New Testament personalities (including Jesus himself), seems well beyond the scope of these discussions.

For those who have not yet read @swamidass’ disclaimer, I provide it below for your convenience:

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If examining claims of the miraculous is somehow “out of bounds” on a blog named “Peaceful Science,” then so is any examination of the, supposedly, “de novo creation” of Adam and Eve.
I, for one, do not give way to an illegitimate “hardening of the categories.” You’ll probably just, peacefully, have to put up with a “rogue element” every now and then. If it’s not your scientific cup of tea, so be it.



It’s up to @swamidass to put up with it. Frankly, I think it is distracting to his mission, and all these speculative tangents will do is provoke disagreement amongst audiences that we have no desire to provoke. I think our target audiences are already challenged by a dual approach: God-Guided Evolution and de novo special creation.

Apparently you think this is your chance to discuss anything and everything, regardless of time frame or anything else. I know I could have gone a whole lifetime without hearing speculation on the nature of Jesus’ chromosomes.

Then just don’t sip out of this cup.


Thanks for the help.

Not sure how this topic got bumped, but at this juncture, as a larger comment, we can all agree that, though some miracles are more ones of timing, well within the usual means of the natural order (an embankment upriver collapses and dams the Jordan river at just the right time for the people to walk across without getting wet, e.g.), others seem to be inconceivable as having arisen purely from within the natural order.
But even those “kinds” take place WITHIN the natural order, and have the potential for being explored as to how the miraculous interacted with the natural order.
That doesn’t put the explanation in class of “scientific mechanisns,” but are only an elucidation of the potential means.
Hope that clarifies. Probably very few will actually even be interested in this, frankly, and that’s cool.