Another Argument by Spencer Lo for Input

See what you thinks about this:

1. If person P is fully human in the biological sense, then P possesses human DNA from both a human female and a human male.

2. If P did not acquire human DNA from a human male, then P does not possess human DNA from a human male.

3. Jesus had no biological human father. [Christian assumption]

4. Therefore, Jesus did not acquire human DNA from a human male. (from 3)

5. Therefore, Jesus does not possess human DNA from a human male. (from 4, 2)

6. Therefore, Jesus was not fully human in the biological sense. (from 5, 1).

15 comments:

Lee Randolph said...

Spencer seems to forget that he's arguing against a literary character.

In fantasy land, anything that the author can dream up, however unlikely, can happen.

So If I were a christian, I'd just say that God provided the missing pieces.

It my opinion, its more efficient to attack the quality of information and evidence that Jesus depends on.

Its irrational to justify a belief on sources whose origin is not known. This is a transferrable principle and since that is the case, only special pleading can attempt to justify it.

an unsubstantiated source increases the likelihood that the scenario doesn't represent real world events.

Zachary Moore said...

This argument, as currently phrased, would also seem to disqualify clones from being considered human. I don't think that most people would agree with that.

A more precise argument would be to say that "if person P is a human male in the biological sense, then P possesses a Y chromosome from his biological father."

This leads to the conclusion that although Jesus could theoretically have been a clone of Mary without any additional genetic input, he could not have been a dude.

David B. Ellis said...

Premise one is false. Imagine a future in which two lesbian women wanting to have a child together can to to a genetic engineer who will combine their DNA to create a child.

Certainly it will be human.

Steven J. said...

The virgin birth accounts in Matthew and Luke were written by people who had no concept of genes, DNA, spermatazoa or ova. They would not have held to points 1 and 2 because they would not have even imagined the question, or understood it without a course in biology first.

Nor would they have had the idea, based in evolutionary theory, that biological taxa are defined strictly in terms of biological ancestry; if you'd explained to them what DNA was, they'd surely have insisted that if Jesus had human DNA, he must have been human, no matter how he got it. Presumably, a modern Christian could reasonably hold to the same position, against the conventions of modern taxonomy.

By the same token, the gospel writers could not have intended to imply point 4, and would not have meant point 3 quite the way a modern writer would; they knew that sex was necessary to pregnancy, but did not know why. The whole concept of heredity doesn't seem to have been well-understood at the time; "biological father" wouldn't have meant the same thing to them as to us.

The nativity accounts don't (and couldn't) say that Jesus didn't carry Joseph's DNA; they say that Mary became pregnant without sexual contact with Joseph. A modern conservative Christian, reading the story in light of biological concepts the original writers and readers didn't have, might infer that Jesus carried only Mary's genes (presumably with some tweaking to produce a Y chromosome), or Mary's genes plus a specially created complement of male DNA that didn't come from any actual male, or Mary's genes plus Joseph's genes, miraculously transported into one of Mary's ova.

I'm pretty sure you've noted in the past that the genealogies in both Matthew and Luke apparently trace Jesus' ancestry through Joseph.

On that last assumption, Jesus would be as biologically human, even on the assumptions of modern taxonomy, as any child conceived by artificial insemination.

Jeff said...

I would dispute premise 2. If we imagine a case in the future where scientists are able to actually build DNA from the "ground up", it is possible that someone could have "human DNA" (that is, DNA that creates a human) without having DNA from either a father or mother. Presumably, God would be able to do the same - create DNA from thin air - so Jesus would have been able to get the DNA of a human male without actually receiving it from a human male.

NAL said...

David B. Ellis:

Certainly it will be human.

But it would not be male.

David B. Ellis said...

It could be if they wanted it to. After all, we know exactly which gene to change.

Tyro said...

Ugh, so trite. It's God doing magic, and you imagine that you can reason about it? Weren't you the person saying that someone who isn't normal can't be reasoned about even for something as fundamental as life and death, and here you've got God and you think his actions can be totally constrained? Give me a break.

As for the argument, it's ridiculously emotive. "Fully" human implies that anyone without this check box is inferior which is clearly crap. Many animals are haploid and they do fine, and if the bible is to believed (and your arguments all buy into them), then we should say that diploid individuals are merely human. Since Jesus got half of his DNA from God, he's not merely human.

Yet again, my biggest reaction is disgust. It's like those well-meaning but misguided people who argue against the walking on water miracle, hypothesizing huge, floating shoes, a sand bar or some freaking localized ice storm. Just who are you trying to impress?

NAL said...

David B. Ellis:

It could be if they wanted it to. After all, we know exactly which gene to change.

Their offspring would not have a Y chromosome, therefore it would not be male. Also, since the lesbians came from both male and female, their offspring would still have 25% of its DNA from a male.

___________________________ said...

Premise 1 is arbitrary, there is no need for specific sources of genes, only for the genes to exist to make a being human.

2 does not necessarily seem true. I suppose the issue of acquiring something from a human male could be problematic, as if somebody somehow figures out Ronald Reagan's gene code to make an artificial sperm, one is not acquiring the genes from Ronald Reagan because the man is dead, but one could possess his human DNA.

Long story short, there is no reason saying "things conventionally work this way" when the very idea of what happened is to be a miracle. It is better to attack a doctrine for being unreasonable to believe, or for holding something that seems to contradict all reason and generally cannot be rationally explained by any means even by adherents of the faith.

NAL said...

It is better to attack a doctrine for being unreasonable to believe, or for holding something that seems to contradict all reason and generally cannot be rationally explained by any means even by adherents of the faith.

The doctrine that Jesus was human being fathered by the Holy Spirit is, based on this argument, contrary to all reason and cannot be rationally explained. Where did Jesus' Y chromosome come from? If it were miraculously created then he is not fully human.

Kel said...

I'm going to guess that all those offspring who are born when the genetic switch for sex is turned off in other species aren't "fully" that species. There's a lizard in the desert of South West Texas that reproduces asexually. Is that lizard not "fully lizard"?

The first argument fails at the very beginning even before appealing to the miraculous.

David B. Ellis said...


Their offspring would not have a Y chromosome, therefore it would not be male. Also, since the lesbians came from both male and female, their offspring would still have 25% of its DNA from a male.


You don't seem to be getting the point I'm making. First, its irrelevent to this discussion that 25% of the child's DNA would be male. So what? The sex of the child isn't relevent to its being human or not. And not all the DNA has to come from both mothers. They can give what is otherwise a child having only the two mother's DNA a male chromosome if they want it to be male.

This is a thought experiment after all.

David B. Ellis said...


If it were miraculously created then he is not fully human.


That's simply silly.

An earlier commenter summed it up beautifully:

"Premise 1 is arbitrary, there is no need for specific sources of genes, only for the genes to exist to make a being human."

Why should we so arbitrarily exclude someone from the human family?

The idea you're proposing, if widely accepted, would have devastating consequences regarding the treatment and legal status of those genetically engineered, cloned, and otherwise brought into existence by nonstandard means.

AARON said...

The law of nature is that we are all created Atheist, ask a monkey, or that fact any other of gods creation.
Seems we are the only stupid animal that do believe? Kind makes you think that god or jesus for that matter is ever child's imaginary friend.

check youtube, I don't know you figure it out.

Search out, Truth about Religion or David Icke Symbolism and Religion.

Just passing through, Bye bye from Drunken Atheist.