A skeptical and neutral analysis of the virgin birth.

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Virgin Mary with her son Jesus.

Partheogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction seen in plants, non-vertebrates and vertebrates except mammals.And in it includes human beings being an exception for partheogenesis. If partheogenesis occurred in humans how would have it happened? The options to opt sexual or asexual reproduction thoroughly depends on the environment. In partheogenesis, a female gives birth to a child without a male in other words without the interference of sperm, an ovum can transform to an embryo.

There are two forms of partheogenesis, one in haploid gamates (half number of chromosomes) and the other in diploid oocytes (complete number of chromosomes). Haploid partheogenesis gives an offspring with half number of chromosomes. Diploid partheogenesis moves to two pathways, however both gives offspring with diploid number of chromosomes. The first is automixis in which a haploid cell may either duplicate its chromosomes or join with another haploid cell to give diploid offsprings.The later is apomixis in which diploid oocyte undergo mitosis to form a diploid offsprings.

The question is whether this partheogenesis would happen in human. Till the claims of Christianity and Islam on the status of virgin Mary who gave a male child without any conception, icons didn’t had any evidences except the first ever case of Emmimarie Jones, who had an 11-year-old daughter named Monica with no known father that appeared in the Sunday pictorial a British Magazine in London.Tests available at the time when DNA identification techniques where absent showed that Monica had many genetic traits of the child were identical to her mother’s, except for a skin transplant, which both mother and daughter eventually rejected. Later, The Lancet took this case and studied the case, which published “Parthenogenesis in Human Beings” by Dr Stanley Balfour-Lynn of Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London.On the skin grafts in particular, The Lancet concluded that they indicated that Monica’s genes did not in fact match her mother’s, despite all the previous evidence to the contrary. So the possibility of such rarest chances of partheogenesis is not nullified or accepted at the same time due to lack DNA identification techniques in those times.

However, in 2009, a long-term study of reproductive health published in the BMJ revealed that one in two hundred United states women said they have given birth without ever having had sexual intercourse. The study was based on the examination of 7,870 women and girls aged 15 to 28 from 1995 to 2009. 45 (0.5%) reported what is labeled a “virgin pregnancy, “unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology.” which means that they had no vaginal intercourse or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). That gives a view that it’s not so rare after all (1)

In humans, a virgin birth or asexual reproduction can only occur if a woman’s eggs develop successfully without having sex or sperm from a partner. Females carry XX chromosomes while males are XY, so it is said that a woman should never be able to have a son in this manner if undergoes partheogenesis because she would not have the necessary Y chromosome genes to produce a male as these chromosomes can only come from a father. So if partheogenesis ever happened the mother can reproduce to give only a female since Y chromosome cannot be contributed by females.

However in the case of virgin Mary delivering Jesus requires a Y chromosome. Since human females have only X chromosomes, there would be no way for Jesus to acquire his Y from Mary. Since she is known for her virginity and delivering a male child that contradict the very scientific possibility. Then the only scientific possibility is the presence of testicular feminisation syndrome in virgin Mary which could explain the possibility of Y chromosome in the process of partheogenesis leading to a male child in virgin Mary. Women with this condition have an X and a Y chromosome like a man, but the testesterone receptors become insensitive to testosterone action leading to female phenotype.

After all, skeptical explanation would make the scientific possibilities in Semitic impossibilities more and more difficult for its followers to accept its harder and bitter realities. The idea that a virgin can give birth cannot be nullified and at the same time is difficult to accept theoretically and practically as well.

From a neutral perspective

Dr. Fahad Basheer


(1) Amy H Herring et. al (2013) A virgin (mother): analysis of data from a longitudinal, US population representative sample survey British Medical Journal 347:f7102

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