Did the “Virgin Conception” First Appear Late in History?

Some critics have argued the "virgin conception" of Jesus is a late mythological addition attributed to Christian believers many centuries after the fact. These skeptics presume, of course, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written far later than the 1st Century, when eyewitnesses would have been available to refute the additional mythology. The history of the early Church reveals, however, that the "virgin conception" was recognized and accepted very early in history. The first opponents of Christianity recognized that Mary gave birth to Jesus without an identified earthly father and claimed that Jesus was, therefore, illegitimate. Celsus (a Greek philosopher and opponent of Christianity) echoed this charge in the 2nd Century in his work entitled, "The True Discourse". It's clear that the issue of Jesus' parentage was an early concern, and the first believers were committed to the idea of the "virgin conception":

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Are the Birth Narratives in Luke and Matthew Late Additions?

Many critics, in an attempt to discredit the "virgin conception", have argued that the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are simply late additions that were not present in the first versions of the gospels. These claims are typically based on (1) Efforts to find stylistic differences between the birth narratives and the rest of the text, and (2) Efforts to find subject shifts that occur immediately after the birth narratives and the remainder of the text. But these approaches to the Gospels fails to demonstrate the birth narratives are late additions for the following reasons:
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What Do We Mean When We Use the Term, “Virgin Conception”?

I’ve been broadcasting and writing lately about the “virgin conception of Jesus”, and as I’ve been discussing the topic with some of you on social media, I’ve seen some confusion about the term. As a Christian, I accept the fact that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin. Two Gospel writers (Matthew and Luke) make this rather incredible claim as part of their description of the birth and genealogy of Jesus:

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Does Design “Imperfection” Prove God Is Not the Designer of Life?

Skeptics have argued against the involvement of an external designer on the basis of perceived imperfections within biological structures. If there is an all-powerful intelligent designer, this designer would be working from scratch and should be capable of creating optimally designed micro-machines and biological structures. Evolution, on the other hand, modifies and builds from existing structures, and this process won’t necessarily produce design perfection. Scientists and philosophers who identify imperfections (and liabilities) in biological organisms point to these deficiencies as evidence against the involvement of an external intelligent agent. Some skeptics have also offered DNA as an example of design imperfection, given the presence of non-functional genes (“junk DNA”) within a variety of genomes. According to these critics, if a powerful, intelligent creator designed the DNA with these non-functional “pseudogenes”, the designer was apparently error-prone, wasting millions of DNA bases. Imprecise evolutionary processes resulting from random gene mutations are offered as a better explanation for the non-functional genes we find in DNA. But examples of apparent biological imperfections fail to negate the reasonable existence of a designer for the following reasons:
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The Meaning of Advent

One of the great joys of Christmas is the arrival of special guests. It may be a son or daughter who has been away at college or in the military. It could be a favorite aunt or uncle who has flown in for the holidays. Friends might be coming to share a holiday dinner. Whoever it is, you anticipate the arrival of your guests and prepare yourself and your home for their coming. And finally, when you hear the knock or the doorbell, you jump up, eager to welcome your loved ones into your heart and home.

That spirit and emotion are at the heart of Advent, a way of celebrating Christmas that may be new to you. Perhaps you’re aware of Advent but don’t know a lot about what it means or what you’re supposed to do about it. When you hear the word, you probably think of candles and calendars. While those are often involved in the celebration, they are merely symbols of what Advent is all about.

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Can Atheists Solve the Problem of “Free Will” by Redefining It?

In my book, God’s Crime Scene, I explain how free agency presents a problem for atheistic naturalists who try to explain it from “inside the room” of the natural universe. In God’s Crime Scene, I examine eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine if the best explanation for these evidences are found “inside” or “outside” the “room”. Free agency is one of the eight evidences I investigate. Materialistic atheists must address an important dilemma: according to their worldview, we live in a physical universe in which natural laws act on matter over time, yet we have the persistent, practical experience of making what appear to be free choices as we love, reason and make moral judgments. We also condemn or praise each other as though our choices and decisions are our own. How are we to reconcile the material, deterministic nature of the universe with our own experience of free will and responsibility?
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Great Resources for Defending God’s Existence

Last Friday I posted a list of resources to help you make the case for Christianity. That list was borrowed from Cold-Case Christianity. Today I’d like to offer a short list of resources from God’s Crime Scene designed to help you make the case for God’s existence. In God’s Crime Scene, I explore the evidence in the universe using a simple investigative technique I borrowed from death scene investigations. Every death investigation presents one of four possibilities; the victim died accidentally, died from natural causes, committed suicide or was murdered. Only one of these circumstances requires someone outside the room to enter the scene. Accidental deaths, natural deaths and suicides can occur without an intruder. Homicide detectives, therefore, are looking for evidence of outside involvement. One important question must be asked and answered: “Can the evidence ‘in the room’ be explained by staying ‘in the room’?” As we examine the universe around us, a similar opportunity is available. Can everything we see in the universe be explained solely from causes found within the natural realm, or is there evidence of an outside “intruder”?
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Great Christian Case-Making Resources

After speaking at a recent Christen leadership camp, the coordinator asked me to suggest some follow-up resources for the attendees. I sent the following list from the “Expert Witness” Section of my first book, Cold-Case Christianity. I’ve always considered my books to be “gateway” books for those who may not yet be familiar with the incredible scholarship available to all of us as Christians. It’s my goal to introduce you to people who are writing and teaching in the field. The following list is organized based on each chapter of Cold-Case Christianity. These books would make an excellent “starter” library for anyone interested in making the case for Christianity.

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Why the Efficiency of Biological Organisms Cannot Be Explained by Evolution

Even atheistic scientists stipulate to the appearance of design in biological organisms. Richard Dawkins would be the first to agree: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” One example of the appearance of design in molecular organisms has become the icon of the Intelligent Design movement. Biochemist Michal Behe wrote about the bacterial flagellum twenty years ago in his famous book, Darwin’s Black Box. The flagellum bears a striking resemblance to the rotary motors created by intelligent designers. University of Utah Biology Professor David Blair describes the amazing similarities: “An ensemble of over forty different kinds of proteins makes up the typical bacterial flagellum. These proteins function in concert as a literal rotary motor. The bacterial flagellum’s components stand as direct analogs to the parts of a man-made motor, including a rotor, stator, drive shaft, bushing, universal joint, and propeller.”
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Can We Attribute Free Will to Quantum Physics?

As I’ve written previously, free agency presents a problem for atheistic naturalists who try to explain it from “inside the room” of the natural universe. In my book, God’s Crime Scene, I examine eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine if the best explanation for these evidences are found “inside” or “outside” the “room”. Free agency is one of the eight evidences I investigate. Materialistic atheists must address an important dilemma: according to their worldview, we live in a physical universe in which natural laws act on matter over time, yet we have the persistent, practical experience of making what appear to be free choices as we love, reason and make moral judgments. We also condemn or praise each other as though our choices and decisions are our own. How are we to reconcile the material, deterministic nature of the universe with our own experience of free will and responsibility?
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