The Christmas Miracle: Scientific Evidence of the Virgin Birth

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Note: I first published this on Christmas Day two years ago. But it seems most readers just don’t know what to make of it. So I’m republishing this in the hope that more will read this.
“The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin bethrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High….’ But Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?’ And the angel said to her in reply, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Luke 1:26-35

A criterion that biblical scholars use to assess whether the New Testament’s accounts of Jesus are true is the Criterion of Embarrassment. The reasoning goes something like this:

Being human, writers tend to write accounts that put them and/or their cause in a positive light. Given that, accounts that are embarrassing are likely to be true because the Gospel’s author would have no reason to invent accounts that reflect negatively on Jesus, his mother, or his followers.

Mary’s pregnancy and virgin birth meets the Criterion of Embarrassment.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker explains that according to Hebrew (Mosaic) law of the time, a girl who became pregnant outside of marriage could be stoned to death. Upon being told by Mary that she was pregnant with child, Joseph had every reason to fear — not only for Mary, but also for his own fate because, in the eyes of the community, he would be the obvious culprit. Joseph was in a quandary: To marry his fiancée would be to admit that he had impregnated her before marriage and he would have to live the rest of his life with that bad reputation. Not to marry his fiancée, however, would mean abandoning Mary to, at best, a life of shame, and at worst, death by stoning.
But Joseph heard the angel’s word — “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” — and responded with courage and fortitude.
All of which means that the author of the account in Luke 1 was telling the truth, that:

  • Mary was a virgin;
  • She conceived a child not by man but “by the power of the Holy Spirit”;
  • Her child is the Son of God.

Translated into the language of modern biology, what this means is that Jesus’ DNA would have no Y chromosome.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid containing the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all (except RNA viruses) known living organisms. DNA segments carrying this genetic information are called genes.
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements, other nucleotide sequences, and proteins that package the DNA and control its functions.
In human beings, as in all mammals, sex/gender is determined by the XY chromosomes. The XY sex chromosomes are different in shape and size from each other. Females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), while males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY). A male child gets his Y chromosome from his biological father. The combination of two Y chromosomes is always lethal in humans.

The human Y chromosome showing the SRY gene

Within the Y chromosome is a gene, SRY, that is the sex-determining region of the Y chromosome. Once SRY is activated, cells create testosterone and anti-müllerian hormone to turn the genderless sex organs into male. With females, their cells excrete estrogen, driving the body down the female pathway.
In his book, The Physics of Christianity (Doubleday, 2007), Tulane University physicist Dr. Frank J. Tipler reasons that if the Gospels’ account of the virgin birth is true, then Jesus’ DNA makeup would have no Y chromosome because he did not have a human father, but instead have two X chromosomes. However, since Jesus was clearly male, he must have the SRY gene. But the SRY gene, instead of being in the Y chromosome, was inserted into a location where it is not normally found – inside one of the two X chromosomes imparted from Mary, his mother.
And that’s exactly what a team of Italian researchers found.
In January 1995, led by Professor Marcello Canale of the Institute of Legal Medicine in Genoa, a group of Italian researchers, including several workers who had invented the standard DNA test for gender, conducted a DNA analysis of the blood on the Shroud of Turin and on the Oviedo Cloth (also called the Sudarium of Oviedo). A recent report by scientists confirms that the Shroud is not a fake. Mark Guscin provides strong evidence that the Sudarium of Oviedo, Spain, is the cloth described in John 20:7 as being wrapped around Jesus’ head.
Here is Dr. Tipler’s account (from pages 183-187 of his book):

Normally, the results of a DNA test of the blood on such a famous object would be published in English in a major scientific journal. … Not so the results of this DNA test. The results were published, in Italian, in the very obscure Italian journal devoted to the study of the Turin Shroud. Furthermore, only the raw data were published. That is, the Genoa team published black-and-white Xerox copies of the computer output of the DNA analyzer. This is never, never done. Always, the data are presented in a neat table or figure, and they are accompanied by a discussion of their significance. The Genoa team made no effort to interpret their data.

But I was able to interpret the data at once. They are the expected signature of the DNA of a male born in a Virgin Birth! … 

The Turin Shroud data show 107 (106+1) but not trace of a 112 base pair gene. The Oviedo Cloth data show 105 (106-1) but no trace of a 112 base pair. The X chromosome is present, but there is no evidence of a Y chromosome. This is the expected signature of … virgin birth, the XX male generated by an SRY inserted into an X chromosome. It is not what would be expected of a standard male.

Other explanations are possible. The DNA analyzed could be entirely contamination from people who later touched the Shroud and the Cloth. But we have witnesses that men touched the two samples also, and it seems incredible that no trace of male contamination would be seen…. Another possibility is that the Turin Shroud and the Oviedo Cloth are fakes and that the fakes used real blood from males they knew were born of virgins. This possibility, in my opinion, has zero probability.

The DNA data thus support the virgin birth hypothesis. The DNA data supporting a virgin birth also support the hypothesis that both the Turin Shroud and the Oviedo Cloth are genuine. 

So much for what Rudolf Bultmann, a leading theologian of the 1930s, once sneeringly said: “Myths [like the Virgin Birth] are difficult to believe in these days of electric lights.”
In the end, what is most intriguing about the Shroud and the Ovieto Cloth is that their characteristics and true nature are increasingly revealed as human beings grow more in knowledge and our science becomes increasingly advanced and sophisticated. Instead of science showing the Shroud and the Ovieto Cloth to be fakes, it is with science that their miraculous character is revealed.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing…. For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” -Isaiah 9:1-6

UPDATE (Nov. 7, 2015):

A reader “Mike” asked for the Italian scientists’ DNA data, which are published in Dr. Tipler’s book. Here they are (click tables to enlarge):
Table 7.1 DNA on Turin ShroudTable 7.2 DNA on Oviedo Cloth

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0 responses to “The Christmas Miracle: Scientific Evidence of the Virgin Birth

  1. Jesus was sinless, the second Adam. Foreordained by the shedding of his blood to save us from eternal damnation. The Holy Lamb of God. I always wondered about the Shroud of Turin, now because of all your research it is there so that the Virgin birth can be scientifically proved. The word of God is sharper than any two edged sword…………………………………Glory!

  2. Dr. Eowyn, of all the posts that you have written, this one is the best in terms of importance, in terms of eloquence and especially, in terms of truth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, soul and mind, for setting forth these remarkable facts for all the world to read and digest, that God became man through Our Blessed Mother, a Virgin, through the miracle of the Incarnation. God bless you, Dr. Eowyn, for your putting together this post for all of us! And we thank the most Sweet God, the All Powerful God, for coming into the world as he did through Our Lady, to save us from sin and evil!

  3. “The results of radiocarbon measurements at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich yield a calibrated calendar age range with at least 95% confidence for the linen of the Shroud of Turin of AD 1260 – 1390 (rounded down/up to nearest 10 yr). These results therefore provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval.”

    • CK Hoag,
      You need to update your information and your knowledge. Indeed, in 1988, Carbon 14 dating tests were performed by 3 labs (U. of Arizona, Oxford U., Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) on a small, non-image portion from the lower left corner of the Shroud. The labs’ claim: The Shroud is dated to 1260-1380 AD.
      The problem is that the 3 samples that were tested were not representative of the Shroud, all taken from a corner that had been repaired in the 16th century. 3 different textile experts saw discernible differences between the sample area and the rest of the shroud, including an “invisible” mending technique used by Europeans of old to mend damaged linens, which made both the reweave and its reattachment “invisible” to the untrained eye.
      Retired Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Raymond N. Rogers examined 14 strands from the test sample under a high-powered microscope. He saw clearly distinguishable cotton fibers (flat, tape-like) spliced into the Shroud’s original linen fibers (round, like tiny bamboo shoots). Conclusion: The 3 lab samples were taken from the repaired area. His findings were published in a 2002 co-authored paper, “Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin.”
      I recommend Robert Wilcox’s book, The Truth about the Shroud of Turin (2010). A used copy is selling for only $4.37 on

  4. Might another simpler explanation be that the dna tested came from a female, such as Mary for example?

    • The DNA tests were done on the blood stains deposited on the Turin Shroud and the Oviedo head-face cloth. How would Mary’s blood be on them? She wasn’t flogged, pierced with thorns, and lanced.
      In the end, questions such as yours can only be resolved via the scientific method — and a hallmark of science is replicability. Other scientists need to replicate the DNA tests performed by the Italian team to see if they arrive at the same “XX chromosome male” results.

  5. How many chromosomes did the blood sample have? Doesn’t a person get 23 from the mother and 23 from the father? If Christ then the chromosomes
    count would be 23 because there was no earthly father.

    • Virginal reproduction is not only possible but actually common in nature.
      It is called parthenogenesis. I regularly proof read scientific papers on studies of species that reproduce by either obligatory or non obligatory parthenogenesis. The two sets of chromosomes are provided by the mother.

  6. Fantastic post, Dr. Eowyn!

  7. “XX males” occur when an error during meiosis writes the SRY part of the Y-chromosome onto an X chromosome that then is contributed to a child that is 46-XX, yet phenotypically male. This meiosis error only happens in the FATHER since only a male has an SRY to be miswritten in the first place. Thus, the “XX male” described above can NEVER be the result of a fatherless/parthenogenetic birth.
    I have long been content with the notion of the Incarnation as an out-and-out miracle. Why would one see a need to suppose that Jesus was was a naturally conceived allosomal genetic defective when neither scripture, nor tradition support it and science says it a natural impossibility?
    That being said, be not afraid of the DNA. Sequence the DNA of both samples already. If they match, they match. If they don’t, they don’t. If they disclose the blood of a genetic freak, all the more interesting. Let’s see it done properly instead of playing bigfoot games with xeroxes from Genoa.

  8. Dr Eowyn ? In modern science, sperm cells have been produced from women’s stem cells, then in theory they might, with some intervention, self fertilize.Producing modern virgin birth. In historic times, the intervention done conceivably (pun intended) by that same great entity that set the laws of physics in place, that the scientific method can never reveal the origin of. It would seem to be easy for such an entity to make such an intervention.. I wonder what the gene chromosome XY arrangement, would then be ? Dr Eowyn ? This would seem to make Virgin birth not too difficult.

  9. Bingo – headline New research suggests women can make sperm, and men can make eggs
    This a wonderful ethical religious and scientific Rubiks cube for you Dr Eowyn ! But it certainly makes virgin birth potentially so easy, and no longer a reasonable objection by religious critics. Fascinating to ponder the neonates likely genetic makeup. That’s your job Dr Eowyn. We are are awaiting your article.

    • Thank you, Trueblue, for this link and the link below. I’ve been meaning to write this as a journal article. You’ve now given me the impetus to do it. 🙂

  10. Its only the first sight apparent impossibility of virgin birth that drives religious critics. Yet there are plenty of self fertilising creatures in nature.
    The critics just haven’t done their homework.

    I suppose the genetic make up would be a clone of the mother. It could be turned into a male clone of the mother with the process you have described above Dr Eowyn.
    This would seem to make virgin birth so lah de dah. Not worth arguing about anymore. I have already taunted atheists with this. LOL Laurence Krauss loses debates spectacularly to William Lane Craig. One of his chief objections is how ridiculous is virgin birth. Astonished Lane craig doesnt bring up this modern scientific development. if it can be done by science then obviously, it could be done by God.

  12. The genetic makeup of the child would not necessarily be a clone of the mother. The mother has an X chromosome from her mother and an X chromosome from her father. Should God the Father, upon hearing Mary’s Yes, transform one of Mary’s egg cells into a sperm cell and activate the SRY region on the X chromosome in the sperm cell and then use this transformed egg cell to fertilize one of Mary’s egg cells, the two X chromosomes may come from both Mary’s mother (St. Ann) and father (St. Joachim) or they may come only from Mary’s mother or they may come only from Mary’s father — that’s three genetic possibilities for producing a virgin birth from two of Mary’s egg cells in which one of the egg cells was transformed by God the Father into a sperm cell to fertilize the other egg cell.
    So, in one genetic possibility, an X chromosome from Mary’s mother and an X chromosome from Mary’s father would produce a human being — Jesus — which was genetically identical to Mary — a male genetic clone.
    And in both of the other genetic possibilities, either both X chromosomes from Mary’s mother or both X chromosomes from Mary’s father, neither would produce a male genetic clone because its genetic makeup would only half that of Mary’s and unique to the male child — Jesus.
    John Craven
    New Orleans

  13. The National Geographic sponsored a blood test which can be seen on their documentary Blood of Christ Mystery Disc and the lab scientist said it only had the mother’s mitochondria DNA and no detectable father’s DNA. This blood test done about 20 years sfter the 1995 tests confirms the interpretation of the XX male being a virgin birth. A.S. Haley of the Anglican Curmudgeon said that God would know what mutations would be needed to impregnate Mary. So we have 3 blood tests from 2 sources all saying no Y-chromosomes, no father’s DNA.

    • Thank you, Gordon, for this information! I will look it up.

    • Gordon:
      I watched and transcribed the 2010 National Geographic video, “The Blood of Christ,” yesterday. Alas, scientist Antonio Alonza only tested the mitochrondrial DNA of the fragment from the Sudariuam, also called the Oviedo cloth believed to have been wrapped around Jesus’ head after he died.
      Mitochondria are structures within cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use. Each cell contains hundreds to thousands of mitochondria, which are located in the fluid that surrounds the nucleus. In humans, mitochrondrial DNA is inherited from the mother, which means there is no DNA from the father in mitochrondrial DNA, which explains why Alonzo did not find DNA from the father on the Sudarium fragment.
      In contrast, nuclear DNA (i.e., DNA of the cell’s nucleus) is inherited from both parents, mother & father. The National Geographic video’s narrator said at the end that “At present, they haven’t isolated nuclear DNA, a type showing genetic material from both parents. Further forensic analysis is necessary to find out more about the body wrapped with this Sudarium.”
      All of which means that the Genoa team’s finding that the blood on the Shroud and the Sudarium belongs to an XX male still awaits replication and confirmation.

      • In 1995, when they saw that the raw data spoke virgin birth they dropped it. Thankfully, they put it in a journal about the Shroud and gave a prit out of the raw data.
        The National Geographic wanted a blood test for their documentary but did not want to prove the virgin birth. Mitochondria DNA suited their purpose neatly. Only the mother’s so it sounded sensational but meant nothing. And then have the scientist say what was no more than a tautology that there was no detectable father’s DNA made it sound even moe sendational but they really didn’t do anything. Sensationalisn without substance. The atheist scientists and anti-Christian media are in no way interested in proving the virgin birth.
        We need a Christian scientist to do the test and get a blood sample.
        The only other blood samples I know of are with Ron Wyatt’s family.
        But with the combined evidence of the blood tests from both cloths and the miraculous factors of the Shroud we have more than enough evidence to prove Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God.

  14. Dear Dr. Eowyn:
    The last statement the scientist said on the NG video was, “There is nodetectable father’s DNA.” If he hadn’t tested for it yet then he eas making an unqualified statement.

    • Dear Gordon:
      Antonio Alonzo of the Institute of Forensic Science in Madrid, Spain, said he found no detectable father’s DNA in the sample of mitochrondrial DNA from the Sudarium. As I explained earlier, there is no father’s DNA in anyone’s mitochrondrial DNA because we inherit mitochrondrial DNA from our mothers.
      I’m bitterly disappointed in Alonzo and the National Geographic video. I don’t understand why Alonzo or other scientists didn’t test the nuclear DNA from the Sudarium which should contain the DNA from both mother and father. If no father’s DNA is found in the Sudarium’s nuclear DNA, that’s proof that the man whose head was wrapped by the Sudarium cloth had no human father.

      • Dr. Eowyn, there may be a way we can get a nucleur DNA blood test. Ron Wyatt¥’s wife has a sample of Jesus Christ¥’s blood. I am sure if she knew we were testing for evidence of the virgin birth she would let us have a sample for testing. Then we would have to raise the money to pay for the test. Ron Wyatt was able to raise money to finance his expeditions in the Holy Land and Sinai.
        God bless you Gordon Tippett Lily of The Valley Ministries, Japan Kyoto, Japan

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