"Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow." But just how many virgin births were there? Virgin birth stories were fairly common in the ancient world. The pagan belief in unions between gods and women, regardless of whether they were virgins or not, is even more common. Many of the ancient gods were believed to be sons of divine fathers and human females. Why is this? In the ancient world, great men were often understood to be born of mortal women and divine fathers. But, apparently, mortal women were especially required to be virgins.
The ancient gods were often reputed virgin - born. The father- god supplied the human race with a saviour, his son, by impregnating a goddess or a mortal. This act, according to how the story goes, must not be regarded as actuated by lust. His purpose is the birth of a great saviour of mankind, and so the impregnation has to be effected without carnal intercourse.
How many gods or great men claimed to be born of a virgin? Probably thousands. Here is a short but incomplete list.
- Krishna, (Indian), was born of Devaki, the radiant Virgin. His father was the god Vishnu. (3228 BCE)
- Horus, (Egyptian) was born to a virgin who remains eternally virginal, Isis-Meri. (approximately 3000BCE)
- Tammuz, (Assyrian), was born to a virgin, named Mylitta. (approximately 2800BCE)
- Perseus was born of Danae, a virgin who was impregnated by the god Zeus’ shower of gold. (approximately 1600 BCE)
- Dionysus, (Greek), was born of the virgin Semele. His father was the supreme god Zeus.
- Heracles, the divine hero, was born on to the virgin Alcmene. His father was the god Zeus.
(approximately 1288 BCE in Greece)
- Zarathustra was born to a 15-year-old virgin, Dughdhava the milkmaid.
(approximately 1200 BCE in Iran)
- Romulus, Rome's founder, was the Son of the God Mars, and Rea Sivia, a mortal Vestal virgin. ( 771 BCE in Italy)
- Karna was born of the virgin Kunti. His father is the sun god Surya, the light of the Universe, who restores Kunti's maidenhood after the act of conception. (approximately 600BCE in India)
- Lao Tzu was born of a virgin. (approximately 600 BCE in China)
- Alexander the Great was the son Olympia and the God Zeus Ammon. (356 BCE in Macedon)
- The Buddha was of royal descent. Born of the Virgin Maya, “the Queen of Heaven”.
(approximately 563 BCE in Nepal)
- Mithras was born in a cave, on December 25th, of a virgin mother. God, in the form of light, entered a virgin, Anahita. (approximately 200 BCE in Western Iran)
- Augustus, the first Roman emperor, born of a union between Atia and the God Apollo and conceived by a holy-snake. ( 63 BCE in Italy)
- Attis was born to the virgin Nana. (approximately 3 BCE in Greece)
- Jesus is born of a virgin mother, Mary. Jesus's father was the Holy Spirit. (approximately 2 BCE in Israel)
Now, I am forever being told by religious people that they are as rational and as logical as anyone else. But, I am beginning to seriously doubt this. If it is possible for a virgin to become pregnant without the usual addition of human sperm, then it is equally possible that this process could have occurred many times prior to whichever virgin is your favourite one and just as many times after. The process, whatever that is, and most attribute a supernatural cause to the pregnancy, should be no more unbelievable in each claimed instance.
So, I do wonder how someone can have at least two disjointed and conflicting concepts of biology without internal psychological conflict. By this I mean, that I am assuming that even though theists intellectually know the processes of human conception, that 2 gametes fuse to become a zygote and continue on to form an embryo and then a foetus which is eventually born as a baby; that many of them manage to believe that a child was conceived without the need of male sperm. Not only do they manage to believe that a baby was born without recourse to human sperm, but they manage to believe that it ONLY occurred according to the tenets of whichever religion they follow.
As biology shows, in order for humans to have a baby, one needs to have the presence of male sperm (XY) added to (XX, and that it is the addition of biological sperm which accounts for the sex of the ensuing child. Now, I fail to see how an incorporeal being has sperm, or a penis for that matter. So, one of the alternatives I have to explain away this claim is that ancient people were basically ignorant about the processes of conception. That, and also that virgin birth stories were common in the ancient world. In the ancient world, great men were often said to be born of mortal women and divine fathers. In fact, the concept of a virgin birth was so popular, that no prophet or saviour-god could be considered a divine incarnation without one.
Now to me, this just speaks of ancient people’s ignorance about the processes of conception. It also speaks to me of the dislike and distaste they had for women who were NOT virgins. But more than that, it speaks of a superstitious world where to gain credibility, reverence and power, you had to be a male who was sired by a “superior male.” Which is why “great men” were supposedly born of virgins and sired by a “superior male.” - a male god. The doctrine of virgin birth can be interpreted as super-patriarchal, where the male god is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels. They were consdiered as vessels for male sperm and "holy male sperm" because they didn't know that women produced ova. Therefore, it was male seed that provided the spark for life, whether it was mortal male seed, or supernatural male seed, the concept was the same.
The second century Christian Justin Martyr says of Jesus, “He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you believe of Perseus.” - First Apology. So, even Justin Martyr recognized that the concept of a virgin birth was prevalent. But his reasoning seems to be that if others had “virgin births” then so was Jesus’.
"To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin." - Cardinal Bellarmine (at the trial of Galileo)
They got that wrong too.
"One man's virgin birth is another man's myth." - Me
The Virgin Births
(Watch the video. I made it especially for you. Yes, you.)
virgin birth virgin births horus tammuz dionysus krishna zarathustra mithras jesus lao tzu attis heracles karna alexander the great romulus augustus perseus justin martyr cardinal bellarmine mary had a little lamb