Virgin birth: Ploy versus Plausibility!


Where did Jesus get His Y chromosome from if He were Virgin born?

If Biology means to you, what Calculus meant to me, then you would have done well to flip over!

For the daring ones, who’ve ventured to linger on, let me attempt to rephrase the above conundrum.

Human Genetic Factoids

The human male sex chromosome make-up is XY
The human female sex chromosome make-up is XX

If the X from the Mother and the X from the Father combine,

a girl child with an XX make-up is born

If the X from the Mother and the Y from the Father combine,

a boy child with XY make-up is born

Jesus being a male must have had an XY Sex Chromosomal make-up.
Mary may have contributed the X Chromosome

The Seeker/Sceptic’s Puzzle

But how do we account for His Y chromosome, if He were virgin born?

There are two ways of answering this. The short direct obvious answer is often not appreciated and in this case may not be instantly intellectually gratifying to a scientific questioner. Hence I intentionally take the slippery longer route to establish, in the least, the theoretical plausibility of answering this conundrum.

The reason for doing this is twofold;

To show that a credible scientific answer is available to the one who demands it.

To affirm that our defence of the Christian faith does not shy away from consistently exploring scientific answers, knowing full well that science itself is only in its infancy though it’s fast growing.

It is undeniable that there still continues to be a myriad of unanswered questions, unknown facts, unproven theories in almost every conceivable branch of science, even today! 

Looking deeper

As we look deeper at this challenge, one shouldn’t miss two underlying truths that seem to surface.

One: The questioner by subjecting the idea of virgin birth to test is simply communicating that if this were left unanswered, the immediate logical conclusion that would surface is that the Scriptures are untrue in this matter and hence untrue as a whole.

The flip side of the coin being, if answered adequately, then the Scriptures are true in this respect and therefore have to be granted to be true as a whole!

Two: That the Virgin birth is a medical/biological possibility. The point of contention only being that the offspring has to be female in genetic make-up (XX).

The Possibilities

Let’s honestly explore some of the possibilities.

Jesus received all of Mary’s genetics

There are several possible explanations, though they may appear ‘implausible’.

Testicular Feminization –

The mother may have a condition called Testicular Feminization (vide Prof Sam Berry, emeritus professor of genetics at University College London). Women with this condition have an X and a Y chromosome like a man, but their X chromosome carries a mutation that makes their bodies insensitive to testosterone. This leads to their developing as a female. Genetically male, and probably sporting ambiguous genitals, the mother would have been sterile. But had she become pregnant spontaneously, her child could have inherited an intact Y chromosome.

Parthenogenesis –

A Testicular Feminized mother can become pregnant spontaneously through Parthenogenesis (Parthenos – Greek for Virgin, Genesis – Greek for Birth), which is asexual reproduction and give birth to a child with an intact Y Chromosome.

Zoologists have long known that there are many species that can reproduce without sex, and have now started to discover that it can also happen in the most unexpected places. In the last five years the list of virgin mothers has expanded to include a pythons, hammerhead sharks, black-tip sharks, and Komodo dragons.

Lest you think all this is just fancy talk, consider that scientists have already managed to induce parthenogenesis in a mammal. Kaguya the mouse, named after a mythological Japanese princess, was born nearly 2004 years after Jesus, and like him, she has no ‘biological’ father! Kaguya was born after scientists tweaked one set of her mother’s egg genes to resemble sperm genes, thereby overcoming the problem of genomic imprinting.


To stop a child thus produced (through Parthenogenesis) from developing as a female, like his mother, the child would need what geneticists call a “back mutation” – a highly unlikely reverse of the X chromosome that caused the testicular feminization in the first place.

(Similar things are now happening in the laboratory, with scientists creating healthy, fertile mice with no fathers. The fact that they were able to make such animals means that we can now get over the genetic barriers to a mammalian virgin birth – in mice at least. Who knows, one day a virgin birth in humans may not be so implausible after all, writes Dr. Aarathi Prasad.)  

Genetic mosaic

Other possibilities to explain virgin birth include the mother being a genetic mosaic, formed from twins that fused into one body while maintaining chromosomes from both, Y and all.

Having explored some of the genetic possibilities and realizing that it’s not totally impossible, we would be flawed if we did not look at two other very legitimate non-biological (Super-natural) possibilities. I choose to call them miracles, if it wouldn’t offend you!

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines Miracles thus: 

miracle (from the Latin mirari, to wonder), at a first and very rough approximation, is an event that is not explicable by natural causes alone. A reported miracle excites wonder because it appears to require, as its cause, something beyond the reach of human action and natural causes.

At this juncture it would be very appropriate to consider St. Augustine’s thought on miracles – “Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature”. We need to grant that this statement, before being slighted sure requires at the least, a good deal of honest intellectual consideration.

With this backdrop, we are now ready to consider the other two (in my opinion, most plausible) possibilities;

Jesus received half of Mary’s genetics and half of the special set from GOD miraculously.

Jesus received all His DNA uniquely from GOD and Mary simply carried Jesus until His birth – Surrogate

These possibilities cannot be over-ruled. The Scripture contains many other profound miracles that seem to evade known scientific explanation.
Ex. In the light of Creation of Adam (and then Eve), the creation of Jesus Christ, should be much easier for God, with at least one half of Chromosomes, as against none!

The absence of evident explanation is not evidence for absence of a possible explanation! 

NB: Some more honest thinking

If we look at the Scriptural account of the Virgin birth, which we have carefully avoided till now, the Bible clearly seems to describe the virgin birth as a miracle that resulted from the action of the Holy Spirit (The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35)

We don’t know exactly what was involved, but it would probably require at least some super-natural intervention from the Holy Spirit.

Regardless of the method by which Jesus was conceived, it would have been very risky to document and claim that He was born of a virgin. In the Middle East there were “honour killings” for women who conceived out of wedlock, so to speak of a virgin birth was extremely dishonourable. In fact, the Bible alludes to some disparaging remarks made by the opponents of Jesus (Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” John 8:19)

In addition, if you look at the anti-Christian literature at the time, much of it focused on this aspect of Christianity. This makes one wonder why, if Christians were just making up a religion, they say something that would offend virtually everybody in the Middle East. It makes no sense to make up something offensive, unless it were true (Rich Deem, 2005).

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