How would you engage with skepticism about the virgin birth?

Hi everyone,

Consider the following objection to the story of the Virgin Birth:

So I’ve always been kind of a Religious-None but I only recently started identifying w/ Atheism & a little bit of Agnosticism. Also, this is my very first post on reddit lol

I’m taking a class now on religion and we briefly went over the birth of christ and I like to try and translate passages from the bible into what probably happened (apart from the clearly fictitious spots like Noah and the flood lol) and when I heard of the birth of christ, the only thing I could think of was: “There is scientifically no way, especially at ~10 BCE, that a woman was just randomly impregnated by some “angel”. This might be controversial to the religious but I think Mary just either got r**ped or decided to sleep with another man and didn’t want to be beaten or left behind as a wife so she made up this whole story and people just believed it? I don’t know if any others think like me lol?

To my mind, there are more than a few unhelpful ways of approaching this conversation. E.g.,

  • Seeing this objection as a threat or a problem
  • Seeing this as an opportunity to show off specialized knowledge
  • Dismissing the perspective

I’m curious: what would be some other approaches that would be unhelpful?

And second, as a prompt for our development: if given the opportunity, how might you engage with this person’s perspective?

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Hi Carson,
Good question to kick start some apologetic thinking again. As I check the link to this question, it appears to me that most of the responses were somewhat sarcastic or very dismissive or uninformed of the actual information surrounding the birth of Christ.

But to provide a good answer to this question I would need to know more about what the particular hang-up is for the person that is asking the question. Does the root of the question lie in doubts of the authority and reliance of scripture? Or do the doubts lie in the ability of God, the creator of all things to perform the miraculous?

After clarity is gained from these questions then info can be shared in the area of particular concern. Specifics can be shared that gives evidence and reasons that will allow people to think through the possibility of the virgin birth being a real event recorded in time and space.


Hi @don ,

I appreciate that you wanted to invest time to understand the author of the post and their community before responding. And that having done so, you still have more questions. I hope that can be a reflex for us in UP: to listen and listen some more.

Any tips for us on how to listen well?

One other thing I’ve felt as I’ve considered this concern: if this person were to personally share their concern with me (and they haven’t done so!) … what a gift that would be. Given that they think this way, it would be a privilege to have an open conversation about these issues together.


I imagine this response happens a lot.
An unhelpful response from a Christian listening might be to correct the facts “well actually, the angel didn’t impregnate; it was a creative act of the Holy Spirit”. This would be unhelpful because firstly no one likes to be corrected, and secondly, it doesn’t really help solve the initial problem that they’re responding too.

I think this basically boils down to belief in the miraculous - and there is a great and respectful conversation that can be held with this person, including the nature of miracles, whether they believe any are possible, why or why not etc. If the issue can be zoomed out to the wider issue, I think that would be more constructive.


No real inspiring tips on how to listen well, but I know I have been through the trial and Error method many times. When I have miss stepped as @alison has mentioned, the conversation gets derailed pretty quickly. So now I try and make sure that I am taking longer to reply to the thoughts, questions or comments from those that don’t know Christ. It forces me to engage my brain more and my human nature less :smiley:


Same here! :joy: Unfortunately, too often it is more on the “error” side and less on the “trial” side.

One way I am seeking to be intentional in asking questions is pausing to examine my motivation.

In particular, the main reason to ask a question is because I want to understand their perspective.

By contrast, if I am asking a question to subtly point out that they are wrong, then it seems to me that the question is functioning as a subtle way to go on the attack. I don’t want to attack my friends and family members; I want to understand and love them.


Yes I agree, motivation is particularly important as it can give the wrong impression to the person we communicate with. :slightly_smiling_face:
With that being said I know that I have been caught assuming to much in conversation sometimes, :roll_eyes: so I think it is not some much about asking questions as the way in which the questions are communicated to others…which displays our motivation. :smiley: