On balance of probability, it is much, much more likely that Jesus was fathered by a biological man than by a Divine creator.
pb - agreed, 'on the balance of probability.'
Virgin birth is a feature common to a wide range of religious traditions practiced by ancient cultures which flourished for over a thousand years before this one. On balance of probability, it is much, much more likely that Jesus was fathered by a biological man than by a Divine creator.
pb - that depends on how one views the feasibilituy of virgin birth - see below - these other traditions,and the tradition of the traditional Jesus narrative.
Can you, or would you, dispute or deny that other historical figures such as the Babylonian god Ea whose son Marduk was born to Damkina is anything less than an account of an historical, factual event? Can you prove otherwise?
pb - I would neither confirm or deny it at this point, Matt.
How about Zoroaster whose mother Dughdova conceived him by a shaft of light?
pb - same as above
What of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut, whose "divine birth" colonnade at Deir-el-Bahri depicts unequivocally the story which in later times was recorded as the nativity story by Luke and Matthew?
pb - same as above, although I would like to hear in greater detail how strong this alleged match is.
So many to choose from ... all they all true? All made up? Or just the ones you don't want to believe in?
One to ponder.
pb - My fuller response doesn't require an either-or proposition. I do believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, but that take has much to do with my own experience within Christianity. I've said it before, I'll say it again. I seem myself as Christian, most fundamentally, because I believe that God sanctified my relationship with Christianity, on an occasion that I mentioned in the recent Gospel of Thomas thread. As I wrote there, throughout that experience I had no doubt that I was having a sustained "Communion" experience, and I have never doubted it since. As such, the proof rose well beyond anything to do with balancing probabilities. Moreover Matt, I see this episode fitting in a much wider historical narrative. Simply put, over the last 2,000 years, many people have had intense mystical experiences whereby a very great force has linked the episode to traditional Christianity. That played out in my sense through the fact that my own episode occurred on Easter Sunday.
So, to your questions raised about other figures associated with virgin birth, the far better question to me is how well this claim was followed up. Did these other figures leave a Legacy that continued after their death? I really don't know, and just so we are clear, you will not find me as one who will insist that all of these others lineages must be wrong. I simply don't know enough about them.
But here's my final point, to your general point. As I see it, you are proposing a counter argument that is passe. A century ago, or perhaps during the 60s - when we were questioning everything - this anti-Virgin birth argument may have been at its persuasive peak: Why should anybody believe in a frigging virgin birth!? That's ridiculous, unscientific and - on the balance of probabilities, especially when secular explanations are deemed to be the only 'rational' (logical) ones, it is silly to expect modern thinkers to accept virgin birth on faith.
Now, even you must acknowledge that I could perform 72 virgin births quite easily. To this we all MUST agree. It is UNscientific and totally anachronistic to THINK otherwise. The narrative flipped on July 15, 1978, when the first invitro baby was born. Now there are more invitro babies born than there are people living in greater London - [www.cnn.com]
Further inferences are to be drawn from this fact. Of course, if there is a God, then virgin births are possible because God can do everything. This line of thought has been mentioned from time immemorial. However, even if we are to presume that there is no God, if only for the sake of argument, and presume that the entire cosmos is due to the Big Accident or random event, then the same (chance based) logic resoundingly infers that other intelligent species would have been able to do this procedure at the time of Christ, and at all of the other earlier eras you mention:
As you will know, Matt, the universe is about 14 billion years old. When the age of the universe is transposed over the yearly calendar, also Carl Sagan's Cosmic Calendar, and as everyone reading this post MUST also agree, it follows that we came along with about a minute left in the cosmic year on December 31st. And so, if one is to presume that our existence is based purely on chance, then the laws of chance prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that other intelligent species will have acquired this technology elsewhere and long before we did. There is no room for skepticism or equivocation here at all: With all of the gazillion stars out there, let alone planets, it is ludicrous, according to the laws of chance, to presume that it is 'rational' to think that we are the ONLY intelligent species out there. Any other species that 'accidentally' came along on Sagan's December 30 would already be 40 MILLION years older than us. 40 million years per Cosmic Day.
Next, when we place 1600AD as the starting point of our scientific age, it turns out that we are only 400 years into Earth-humanity's age of science. Yet in this VERY short time, we've already figured out to perform virgin births ourselves. Again, I say that we MUST all agree on this because that is the truth. Others might like to sweep that fact under the rug, because that's what some do. But there is no wiggle room. Whether they like it or not "virgin" births are happening all around us. 20k in the UK last year alone.
As outrageous as the whole idea of virgin birth might have seemed, in some circles, mere decades ago, now the narrative has flipped. And in the grand scheme of things, when we consider our tech potential, if we survive, and are able to acquire more tech in thousands and tens of thousands of years, virgin birth - a concept declared ludicrous by many 'rational' thinkers, mere decades ago - turns out to be relatively primitive technology.
Finally then, at this point, so very early into our own tech trajectory, we've already learned enough to recognize that we have No IDEA how far we will advance, if we survive as a species. As such, it would be pure arrogance, and ignorance, imo, to insist, in then name of being 'rational' - which is generally a measure of 'how we think nowadays' to begin with - that these earlier cultures you mention could NOT have been visited by an ET species that performed virgin births of their own.