HE MOST CERTAIN EVENT IN HUMAN HISTORY.
501. While men weakened the value of the genealogical table of Jesus Christ, by introducing the name of a foster father in the place of His only actual parent (a deed made necessary by the circumstance that male kinship had displaced female kinship, in public records), yet the actual event¾that Jesus Christ was born into this world¾rests upon a very sure historical foundation.
502. Does anyone doubt this? Then we wish to ask: Who ever made a lie so strong and stable that it could become the axis for all the facts of human events to revolve about? Could a mythical character traverse the stage of human action, and leave behind it a whirling eddy of all the real personages of history,¾so that thereafter it would come to pass that every actual event would be reckoned as occurring 'Before-the-LIE' or 'After-the-LIE?' But unless Jesus actually lived, this is precisely what must have happened. Perhaps one might even manage to invent a mythical character, and then give him a place so remote in human history that contemporary events could not be summoned in sufficient numbers to prove the historical representation a myth. But Jesus Christ does not belong to this category. He belongs to a period of the world's history which is rife with historical records. And those very records have been, as it were, rent in twain, and compelled to re-arrange themselves in order as having happened before or after that virgin birth of the Son of God.
503. Pagans and Jews wrote of Jesus Christ as an actual historical character, close to His time on earth. We have the record of Josephus, who was born four years after the Crucifixion; Tacitus, born 22 years after it; Pliny, born 29 years after it, and Suetonius, born 37 years after it. Abraham Lincoln was born 109 years ago (I am writing at the beginning of 1923), and was assassinated 58 years ago. Would it be possible within this length of time, for us to be mistaken in our conviction that Lincoln ever lived on earth? So was it impossible for these unbelievers to mistake a mythical personage for a historical character. And besides, the two Talmuds of the Jews, and the Acts of Pilate stand forth as testimony to the life of Jesus on earth. None of the names cited in the foregoing list are identified with Christians in the least. Besides these, we have the writings of eight of His contemporaries, all but three of whom (Mark, Luke and Paul), were in immediate association with Him in His earthly career; and only enough difference in their witness as to who and what He was can be discovered as is needed to prove that the same hand did not write all the sketches.
504. But do not the Buddhists date their publications and events likewise on a basis of the life of the Buddha, Sakya Muni? They do, ¾in imitation of the method of almost the entire world, which bases its chronology on Jesus Christ's birth. But we need not fear the outcome. Listen to the statement of Prof. Cowell, professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge, on this subject: "Buddhism cannot be called an historical religion, if we mean by that term a religion whose origin is to be traced in contemporary annals. . . . There are two separate streams for his history and doctrines (meaning Sakya Muni's). . . . It is well known that there are twenty different dates for Sakya Muni's death, varying between B.C. 2422 and B.C. 543.” On the other hand, while disgraceful quarrels and wars have prevailed between the unworthy professed followers of Jesus Christ, and they are divided into innumerable sects today, not one of these touch the historical time of Christ. The whole world unites upon the one date.
505. Not that the precise day of the month, or month of the year, or even period of 365 days must be considered settled beyond all peradventure. But the time of His life on earth has never been lost, in the midst of changing chronologies, bringing in some confusion of a trivial nature. Dr. Horne tells us: "It is an extraordinary but singular fact that no history since the commencement of the world has been written by an equal number of contemporary authors. . . . The history of Alexander, King of Macedon and conqueror of Asia, is not attested by a single contemporary author; and the same remark can be made on the history of Augustus, Tiberius and others.
506. But can we believe in the virgin birth of Christ? Some teachers of the Bible can find no place in their scientific minds for the idea of a virgin birth, but that is because they are so ignorant of science. It has been known for long years by scholars that virgin birth was possible, at least in the lower ranks of animal life. The phenomena of virgin birth have received more attention of late years, with the improvement of methods for its investigation. The scientific name for virgin birth is partheno-genesis. Parthenos is the Greek word for ”virgin;” genesis, the Greek word for "origin, birth.” The scientific term means precisely what the English expression "virgin birth" means, and it describes precisely the same thing,¾the production of offspring by unmated females.
507. Frogs' and hens' eggs will frequently develop partially, apart from fertilization (as we are accustomed to use the word). The same can be said of starfish and silk moths. Some creatures that multiply in the ordinary way, if they are closely related to classes that multiply by parthenogenesis, will occasionally multiply parthenogenetically; to this order belong many butterflies. But they usually produce only males after this fashion. The fertilized eggs of the queen-bee will produce queens, while the unfertilized eggs will only produce drones. The same thing happens when the queen gets old,¾that is, she only produces drones. Similar laws govern the lives of wasps and ants.
508. Some insects will at one season produce young in the ordinary way, and at other times by parthenogenesis. Warmth seems to determine which, in some cases. Plant lice are parthenogenetic in the summer, but only multiply in the ordinary way in winter; but by keeping them in an even temperature, plant lice have been known to propagate parthenogenetically for fifty generations. Among some lower forms of insect life no males have ever been found. Among these the only method of propagation is by parthenogenesis. We must refer readers to works relating to this subject, such as Geddes and Thomson on The Evolution of Sex, books on bee culture, and articles in the encyclopaedias. This is not a scientific paper. We only wish to show that virgin birth is not an absurdity. Indeed there is a class of tumours of quite frequent occurrence in females of the human family, which some of our highest authorities have claimed to be attempts in the direction of virgin conception (dermoid tumours of ovarian origin).509. On the subject of virgin birth in the human female, we cannot do better than quote the words of that scientific authority, Prof. Geo. John Romanes, M.A., LL.D., F.R.S, in his book, Darwin and After Darwin, footnote, p. 119. It is expressed in scientific terms, but we must give it just as originally written,¾or at least such portion as space will allow: "The earlier stages of parthenogenesis have been observed to occur sporadically in all sub-kingdoms of the metazoa [creatures composed of more than a single cell¾to these belong nearly all forms of life], including the vertebrata [back-boned], and even the highest class, Mammalia [animals which bring forth living young, and suckle them.] These earlier stages consist in spontaneous segmentation of the ovum; so that if a virgin has ever conceived and borne a son, and even if such a fact in the human species has been unique, still it would not betoken any breach of physiological continuity [in other words, it would not be a breach of the known laws of physiology] . . . Such a fact need betoken no more than a slight disturbance of the complex machinery of ovulation, on account of which the ovum failed to eliminate from its substance an almost inconceivably minute portion of its nucleus." We place in italics the words of most interest and importance to us. Could not our God have easily produced the "slight disturbance" quite independently of human means in the case of Mary of Nazareth, by His own entrance into humanity?