I just got back from China and realized again the value of always being able to give an answer, a reason, for the hope that lies within you. I got off the plane and the first thing I started hearing about was Religulous, a movie starring Bill Maher, as he interviews people with the purpose of, as he told Larry King the other day, harpooning the whale of religion once and for all. Religion to him is what is poisoning our society and that whale has to be harpooned. He brings up all kinds of reasons why Christianity is no longer tenable in an age of Scientific Enlightenment. It is dead according to him.
In fact, according to him religious ideas such as the virgin birth of Jesus Christ are merely barrowed from ancient pagan mystery religions, such as Krishna of India, Mithras of Greece, and Horus of Egypt. Well, is that true? Did Christianity borrow from ancient pagan mystery religions? Is Bill Maher correct?
The truth of the matter is this; Krishna was not born of a virgin. Krishna was born according to that mythology to a mother who had seven previous sons, hardly a virgin. Mithras was born of a rock, well maybe the rock was a virgin, and we got to give Maher the benefit of the doubt. In terms of Horus, Isis is said to have had intercourse with Osiris after he had been cut into fourteen pieces and his reproductive organs were swallowed by a fish; again, hardly a virgin birth account like the virgin birth account in Scripture.
While it is currently popular to suggest that the gospel writers borrowed the virgin birth motif from pagan mythology, the facts simply say otherwise. Stories of gods having sexual intercourse with women, such as the sun god Apollo becoming a snake and impregnated the mother of Augustus Caesar, hardly parallel the virgin birth account. Moreover, given the strict Monotheistic view of the New Testament authors it should stretch credulity beyond the breaking point to suppose they borrowed from pagan mythology; especially mythologies extolling the sexual exploits of pagan gods.
It has become all too common for people to buy into what has been well described as a unique brand of fundamentalism. A brand of fundamentalism that values rhetoric and emotional stereotypes over reason and evidential substance. Those who suppose that the virgin birth is mythology would be well served to consider defensible argument rather than uncritically swallowing dogmatic assertions. Dogmatic assertions are exactly what you get in Religulous, not defensible arguments.