Since I hold an agnostic position on the asserted miracle of The Virgin Birth of Jesus, at least in so far as science or mathematics can be applied to it, I’m going to press my own point of view.
I didn’t raise the issue of The Virgin Birth in any way, certainly not as a scientific debunking of religion. I also wouldn’t talk about it much as religion either, for reasons that have nothing to do with this argument.
I have defended those who do believe in it from charges that they are a danger to science or reason and have specifically defended the requirements of science against assertions from those who would replace those with opinions and dogmatic, authoritative declarations. I haven’t seen anything yet which makes the case for doing that from the “science side” of the issue other than the assertion that it’s in some way scientific, reasonable and fair. None of which are logical arguments but are just appeals to a pre-established point of view.
It could be added, this is a mighty strange way for me to be spending my time, but I think it is important to answer both for the integrity of science but also, and more importantly, for the right of religious believers to assert beliefs which harm no one.
Just as religion doesn’t deserve respect or belief when it violates its own moral teachings, science doesn’t deserve respect when it violates its own code of practice. Hypocrisy always earns skepticism and disbelief. And it is only on the ground of acceptance or rejection by people now that this question even becomes of any interest in the first place. Nothing we can do or discover will change the past, the event itself or the subsequent assertion of what that event was. It is for minds of people now that gives this fight any importance, in either the new atheist debunking and ridicule attempts or the activities of Christians.
Nothing that I have seen from the “science side” actually deals with the belief as asserted by Christians, none of their most extensive, if not entirely integrated, arguments are a solid reason for Christians to not believe in it. No more than I’ve seen a scientific argument in favor of The Virgin Birth. To make that clearer, if a religious believer alleged any scientific confirmations, those would be unconvincing to new atheists who could be expected to then apply the most exigent standards of science to those claims, even surpassing those they would assert in refutation of it.
So the “science” of miracles in this kind of case is a two way sword, one with a rubber blade. It doesn’t cut either way. That is a much bigger problem for the attempt to dispose of the belief with science than for those who irrationally and, I’d assert, irreligiously, hanker after a scientific verification of this kind of miracle for which there is no physical evidence. Real science would have to produce something which would approach closer to knowledge than religious belief in order to be effective. And, being an assertion of science, it would have to defend itself in review. And it can’t do that in this case. What it produces is belief which masquerades as a scientific position. Religious belief doesn’t suffer in the absence of scientific verification when that is impossible, certainly not in this situation. A religious believer will always have recourse to the valid point that the “scientific” viewpoint hasn’t dealt with what they believe and science can’t do that.
I will be out several weeks and when I return I’ll give a fuller response to J.C. Samuelson’s comment on the question. I will assert that he hasn’t answered the challenge, there isn’t a coherent methodology by which the requirements of science can be applied to the belief in The Virgin Birth. I have posted a preliminary response to some of his points but I’ve got to be away from my computer in about an hour and won’t be back for quite a while. If anyone takes on the Big Numbers question or posts a methodology on the Virgin Birth question I’ll deal with those then if I can. Of course, if you stump me, I’ll be honor bound to declare so.