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Atheism

Why a virgin Mary???

Why indeed? What was the need for a virgin Mary? What was so great about god providing a virgin with a fetus anyway? What purpose did it solve? In fact it only created more problems for Jesus and his supporters.

For one, people do not believe in the virgin birth. Even if I believe that someone called Jesus did walk around the land of Israel preaching, I cannot believe he was born via parthenogenesis. I mean, no one checked Mary to verify her claim. She was married at the time and that too puts a dampener on things. So why did god need to send his โ€œonly begotten sonโ€ through this tortuous, hard to believe and even harder to defend route? And what sins had Joseph committed that he was condemned to marry an already pregnant girl?

Jesus was supposed to be manโ€™s saviour (Women too? Are we sure about that?;)). So why make it so difficult to believe in him? That is the only route to salvation after all, believing in Jesus. The easiest thing would have been for god to make a grand entrance in the Great Temple of Jerusalem. All clouds and fire and what not and in the middle of it all, an infant descending through the air to land softly in the middle of the complex. Now that would be a son of god no one would ever doubt! Imagine how many more people could be saved if honest Christians could claim such a glory-born saviour! Does god hate mankind then, that he has made believing in his own symbol of salvation such a difficult task?

About hbhatnagar

I need to fill this up with much better content than I had populated it with earlier. Why I write a blog maybe? I started blogging in 2009 or thereabouts. I was a newly turned atheist and wanted to converse with others of the same persuasion. We're not exactly a big population group in India! It didn't go very well and I sort of lost interest, posting a few things now and then. I got a lot more regular over the last few months and have been posting almost daily since February '15. There were many reasons why I gradually became more regular in posting, but one way or the other, here I am! So this blog has taken shape, being at different points in time my showcase, my comedy club, my art gallery, my book club, my therapist, my close friend, my innermost self....but always my little corner of the world. You are all welcome to visit and I hope you stay awhile! A few points about me because I don't want to lead anyone on(and trust me this does become an issue more often than I'd care to admit). I'm Indian, the brown-skinned variety; if race, ethnicity or skin colour is an issue, you don't have to get to know me any more than what you see on my blog. I'm 40, so if age is an issue, please be informed accordingly. I was a doctor, an ophthalmic surgeon for 10 years before I quit practice.

Discussion

24 thoughts on “Why a virgin Mary???

  1. Just wanted to say that this discussion between you and Kathryn is extremely interesting. I find her candor deeply moving, and you’ve both done a wonderful job of remaining civil… even caring. I hope the conversation continues!

    Like

    Posted by Nate | 26/09/2011, 11:44 PM
  2. I’m reading Richard Dawkins The God Delusion and one thing he mentions is the mistranslation of certain words that appear in the bible. The Virgin Mary is the most famous one. This is what he writes: “…the most famous being the mistranslation of Isaiah’s Hebrew [word] for young woman (almah) into the Greek [word] for virgin (parthenos)”

    So according to this Mary wasn’t a virgin. She was a young woman. This is much easier to believe then her being a actual virgin. Back in those days Jewish men and woman got married and started popping out kids very young. Plus IF she was a virgin, Jesus couldn’t have been a descendent of David.

    Like

    Posted by Color Me Atheist | 06/09/2011, 2:35 AM
    • I credit that book with changing my life. It’s a true masterpiece and I am Dawkin’s eternal (oops!) fan. The fallacies in the whole story of Jesus’ birth are legion. I fine it difficult to believe anything that’s said about him. It’s all so fantastic and what’s more, full of contradictions. If there did exist a man called Jesus preaching in the Israel of the time, I’m pretty sure his life bore no resemblance to what is popularly held as, well, gospel truth today.
      Hope you enjoy “The God Delusion”. I would recommend “The Selfish Gene” by Dawkins and “The Evolution of God” by Robert Wright too, if you’re in the mood to take a stranger’s advice. Thanks for commenting! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

      Posted by hbhatnagar | 06/09/2011, 7:10 PM
  3. I think that’s the beauty of the story of Jesus, he was born to a human and raised in a very human ways. He lived among us and like us. I think the story of Jesus was how God humbled himself to live among his children. He wasn’t born in glory, he was born with nothing. I think part of this is that Jesus’ message and what he had to say, was often more important than the person himself. If Jesus had arrived with choruses of angels, the focus would have been lost from his teachings and purpose.

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    Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 05/09/2011, 11:22 PM
    • I find Jesus swinging between extremes of humility and pride. My point though is that if he was sent to earth for such a lofty purpose, god could have ensured his message was more widely accepted and more easily believed. Thanks for commenting!

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      Posted by hbhatnagar | 06/09/2011, 7:04 PM
      • I suppose that I think that God didn’t think something so lofty should be so easy. I mean…I find that the most powerful faith (be it in God or in the lack thereof) is that which people have to search for. But I understand, it’s hard to sometimes understand why God would make it so hard all the time.

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        Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 08/09/2011, 6:03 AM
      • I can’t understand why any putative god would make it difficult. And I don’t subscribe to the view that man is too stupid to understand the mind of god either. If there were a god out there, I’d expect him/her/it to act very differently. ๐Ÿ™‚
        I find faith comes easily to us as humans, but the courage to challenge our faith in anything comes with great difficulty.

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        Posted by hbhatnagar | 08/09/2011, 8:51 PM
      • I can understand your view. Even though it’s been my experience that faith is not that easy, but maybe that’s because I live my faith while also letting doubts in. I understand what you mean, though, I wrote a post awhile ago called the Argument for Inquiry and not Censorship. In it I mentioned how when I was at a Christian school there was a debate over whether it was right as Christians to read some fiction book that didn’t portray Christianity in a positive way and represented what many would call a perversion of the religion’s values, I was really surprised when a bunch of my classmates said that we shouldn’t read the book because it might cause us to question our faith. I thought that was ridiculous, if we think that it’s going to be torn down if we ask questions or challenge our faith or explore or hear other views, then clearly that’s not a lot of faith in our faith. I’ve never quite understood Christians who want to live their lives in a bubble, since that’s never been how I wanted to live my life or faith.

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        Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 09/09/2011, 3:46 AM
      • What your are talking about is defending your faith, and that is a decidedly tough task, The thing is, most people don’t bother to think that deeply. It’s easier to take matter s on faith and not question; moreover, we’re conditioned from birth (in most cases) to uncritically believe religious claims. It’s not easy for many to take it in their stride if their cherished beliefs do not hold up to their own critical scrutiny. I was never an exceptionally religious man to begin with, quite the opposite, in fact, but I still found it difficult to become an atheist. I can imagine how traumatic it must be for a more god-fearing person.
        I admire the fact that you are willing to question your faith, but what would you do if, hypothetically, your questioning led you to the inescapable conclusion that some, if not all tenets of your faith were not true? Wouldn’t it be a difficult fact to accept?

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        Posted by hbhatnagar | 12/09/2011, 10:26 AM
      • Yes, those things are and would be hard, incredibly hard. I continue to ask myself questions though, because I know without questions my faith doesn’t mean much. I also will admit, that my faith doesn’t always have the answers, there are some things that I sometimes find, that though the questions don’t go away and I’ll always ask, I do have to accept that I won’t always know the answer and that’s really hard. Are you thinking of any tenets in particular?

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        Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 16/09/2011, 6:46 AM
      • Most of them. Which ones of the central tenets have you found to stand up to your own questioning? Ones that you have been able to reconcile to?

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        Posted by hbhatnagar | 17/09/2011, 10:22 AM
      • Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t believe the Bible is the total word of God. First of all, I believe that God continues to speak, and I find it hard to believe the Bible’s the final word or that the authors didn’t insert their own beliefs (Paul even says at a few times on certain subjects that he’s saying his own opinion and not what has been revealed to him by God), the Bible was compiled and created by humans and is therefore fallible. I believe that it has lots of wisdom and much of it was divinely inspired, but if something seems wrong in the Bible (like “wives submit to your husbands”), with what I know about God and what I feel he is saying now, then I have to listen to that first. It makes things harder, because you don’t want to just pick and choose what you like, and it’s hard to find the line between a text that’s very valuable and I think God speaks through in many ways…but that also is flawed, imperfect, and was written within the context of its time. I also struggle with pieces in the New Testament, such as in the epistles, that say that the only way to heaven is through faith Jesus, and also that that’s all that’s required. I watch people who have faith and many times I believe it is the people without faith who live their lives in a way that I think God would approve. I find it hard to accept as well, that God would send someone to hell. Part of it is that even though it bothers me, it also is something that I realize I won’t know in this lifetime. I also struggle with, not only how God could send someone to hell or how hell could even exist, but with how there can be so much suffering in a world with an omnipotent, loving God. I know that by giving us free will, these things can happen, but it’s hard to reconcile, I believe God has a plan for me, I also believe I can reject the plan, but where does God’s influence on my life and my control of my life stop and begin. I struggle with these questions, I don’t have answers.

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        Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 24/09/2011, 1:16 AM
      • The logical question would be to ask what criteria you base your choice of biblical rules. How do you decide which part to pick and which to reject and how do you know your choices are correct? Not asking you though, I know it’s hard to come to terms with a lot in religious scripture. You are, honestly, the first Christian I’ve come across who admits to having a problem with the idea of eternal hell. Most (not a great number admittedly) Christians tend to waffle on the issue and elide over it or frankly believe it and are okay with it. These are tough questions you pose to yourself and I hope there is an answer for you within the framework of belief.
        One question, if you are ready to accept that the unacceptable (to you) bits of the bible were written by humans for their own purposes, then what stops you from believing that the better parts of it were written by humans too, by good humans, without divine inspiration?

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        Posted by hbhatnagar | 24/09/2011, 12:26 PM
      • I’m sorry this took me long to reply, I get notifications on an e-mail that I don’t check that often and I’ve been having computer problems. So…that does concern me, how do we know what piece is God and what part is man, and that’s why I almost never will utterly rule something out or in, because I can never know for sure, and therefore I try to consider it and look at it from a different angle and sometimes I find that through that even if I don’t find I agree, I can find at least something where I have a more balanced opinion, because I think that balance is very essential in religion. But also in my general process of deciding…I will admit that part of how I decide if it comes from God is my sense, just what I think, and I don’t do it on immediate reaction, but with thought, but yes it is a subjective process which of course makes it flawed, but one thing that my church believes and that I agree with is that we believe God continues to speak to us, and so in trying to listen to him, I look at things and see if that lines up with what I feel God is saying. I also look at things through the context of the gospel, because even if it’s not word-for-word for what Jesus said, I still think that the general sense of his message is definitely there, and that those broader principles are what defines Christianity, love, forgiveness, etc. and all those many principles that Christianity stands on, I look at the passages through those lenses. So if something seems to be hateful, it is hard for me to believe that it comes from God, because what I know about God does not align with hate. But also, how do I know what is just good humans and what is God, well, part of that is that I feel that all good things come from God. I think God can work through people without them knowing it, and that good that they share comes from him. And that means to me, that even if someone wrote something, and God didn’t inspire them, but it’s something that’s good and that good can come out of, it still is connected to and from God. Is what I’m saying making sense? It’s complicated the way I think about these things, I look at them from many angles and it’s hard to express some of it at times to others.

        Like

        Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 20/10/2011, 5:31 AM
      • The thing with religious scripture, especially that of the three monotheistic faiths is that there is almost anything that one could interpret from what is written. From a doctrine of universal love to one of unmitigated hatred can all be ascribed to biblical or koranic sources. Now I agree that most good, believing people have a personal idea of what god is supposed to be and stand for and what his word is, so to speak, but how much of that is necessarily dependent on religious texts?
        I understand what you mean by saying that you believe the good in humans comes from god in one way or another, but I find it more uplifting to believe that it comes from within us without any divine inspiration. Either way, we both seem to believe that goodness does not religion to hold our hand and guide us all the way.
        A subjective process doesn’t necessarily make it flawed since it can be argued that an objective process is logically impossible. We all look at things from our personal perspective and take certain decisions based on those observations. Where that does not do harm to the greater good, I don’t see why we should call the process flawed. ๐Ÿ™‚

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        Posted by hbhatnagar | 21/10/2011, 11:03 AM
      • Hi Kathryn,

        I’d like to jump in too, if you don’t mind. I think I understand the point you’re making… does that mean that you think people of other faiths can go to heaven too? It just seems to me that if God only partially inspired the Bible, then he wouldn’t be too surprised when some people see the parts that were obviously written by mere men and don’t believe. Also, people of other faiths could easily say the same things about their religious texts: the contradictory parts were written by men, the rest by God. So do you believe that people of all faiths will be accepted by God?

        Thanks! I’ve really enjoyed this discussion so far!

        Like

        Posted by Nate | 20/10/2011, 5:58 PM
      • The more the merrier :). On the question of heaven or hell, I will admit that I don’t know, and despite the fact that many people say that they know, I think the only person who really knows the answer is God. I’ve never found it an answer that I’ve worked very hard to discover, not only because I don’t think I can fully know, but because, unlike an ethical question, whatever my opinion on it doesn’t affect what’s actually true and therefore I don’t think a strong opinion is necessary, in fact, I think it’s sometimes dangerous, to think that you know who will go to heaven or not. I think that maybe, even likely, people of other faiths will go to heaven, and I think that maybe not all Christians will go to heaven, I really don’t know. I find it hard to believe that people who strive to live their lives in an upstanding manner and to treat other well, particularly people who also have faith in God, would then be condemned to hell because they didn’t accept some other tenet. It’s something I struggle with, because there are passages in the Bible that do seem to put it in that light. The way I tend to think of it, I suppose my preferred belief on the matter, is similar to how it’s described in the last book of the Chronicle of Narnia. At the end times, the creatures look at Aslan (i.e. God/Jesus) and those who love him and all he represents go to heaven and those who look on him with hatred turn away and go through another door. I think that all good things come from God and that I think those that love and follow goodness are loving and following God in their own way. I also tend to think that something like heaven and hell is on an individual basis, not on generalizations. But again I don’t know the answer and my beliefs on this are not solid, I continue to develop my thoughts on this issue, but I don’t think it’s something we’ll ever be able to answer in this lifetime.

        Like

        Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 21/10/2011, 8:40 AM
      • Careful Kathryn! You’re going against a central tenet of Christianity! ๐Ÿ˜€
        But seriously, this is one of the biggest issues I’ve had with monotheistic faiths. I find it refreshing to see you agreeing that a good life is more important than professing a certain faith. There is a Sanskrit verse, whose origin I don’t remember, but while discussing the myriad faiths and their claims to being the true way to salvation says, “There are a number of paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is still the same.”
        The idea of hell bothers me a lot, since I find the idea of an infinite punishment for finite sins in itself, immoral. But more on that in some other post. ๐Ÿ™‚

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        Posted by hbhatnagar | 21/10/2011, 11:10 AM
      • There was a Humanist Christian philosopher named Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and he believed that the concept of eternity in hell or even heaven was ridiculous because as humans, our nature is to change and that salvation also relies on the concept of us changing and realizing our mistakes, and for that reason he thought the idea of an eternal punishment or reward didn’t make sense. It’s an interesting theory.

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        Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 04/11/2011, 1:55 AM
      • Interesting concept, I must say. ๐Ÿ™‚ But in the absence of eternal heaven and hell, what did Mirandola propose as the difference between how christians and non-christians would be treated by god? On that note, how do you feel about the exclusivity of the christian doctrine, in that only they will get eternal salvation?

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        Posted by hbhatnagar | 10/11/2011, 6:37 PM
      • I don’t know the specifics of all his beliefs, I hope to read some of his works at some point. On the exclusivity of the doctrine, well first off, it’s something that I don’t have a firm opinion on and I’m always developing my feelings and viewpoints on it. It’s also something that I don’t feel a rush to develop an opinion on because it’s not something where me having an opinion changes it, I think that sorting out moral issues in my head and how I should treat people takes precedence in the laundry list of mental things to ponder :). I will also admit, that as a flat-out visceral reaction, the idea that anyone who does not believe in Jesus goes immediately to hell, really bothers to me. As, frankly, I think it should. The other thing, is that there are different ways to interpret Christianity’s view on salvation, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that only Christians go to heaven. For instance, there’s a view I favor, I refer to it as the “Narnia viewpoint” and if you’ve ever read the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia, there’s this scene where the world is ending and it’s Judgment Day and all the people and creatures look at Aslan (who stands for Jesus/God) and those who looked at him with love went to heaven and those who looked at him with hatred went to hell. The corollary to all of that, and some of these themes are also in that book, is the idea that all good things belong to God, whether people realize it or not. For instance, if you have compassion in your heart and you love to treat other people well and love them and et cetera, then that’s loving and serving God and Jesus even if you don’t realize it. So that therefore, a person could be serving and following God, even if they didn’t have faith. All Christians don’t have one reply to the question of heaven and hell, it’s a really complicated question and you will find every single possible opinion imaginable represented by someone within the Christian faith. I think that there are a lot of ways to look at it.

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        Posted by Kathryn P. Bernhardt | 18/11/2011, 8:31 AM
  4. Hi….I am a Christian and came accross your though provoking blog. While I don’t feel to comment on your topic I can tell that you have thought about things a lot and you are deep thinker.

    I respect others right to believe or not believe in what they want. I personally have experinced the presenceof God in an undenialable way that just blew me away. My very own son is my most amazing miracle. Why did these things happen to me? Because I was a seeker…..I was looking for real answers……I had tried to commit suicide a few times so I needed answers…..Is God real?….”are you” ? I asked…..I would not be writting you today….if….I didn’t get some answers.

    So you’re an eye doctor…..I’ve seen my share…..thank God we have two eyes…..oops I forgot……you’re an atheist. ( Just kiddin with ya’) Take care!

    Like

    Posted by camary1996 | 05/09/2011, 11:13 PM
    • I can understand the depth of your feelings about god, even though I am an atheist. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a difficult world to live in and I can sympathize with the fact that you had a lot of problems. Hope you’re more positive in your life now! Take care.

      Like

      Posted by hbhatnagar | 06/09/2011, 7:02 PM

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