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Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Only the true Messiah would deny his divinity... or something like that...
American religion is becoming more "mystical" and less "mainline" says New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The Roman Catholic holiday of the Feast of the Assumption this past week is his Exhibit A. Fine. Let him believe or not. What I was most struck by in the column was this passage:

Yet despite the lack of scientific or historical evidence, and despite the doubts of Biblical scholars, America is so pious that not only do 91 percent of Christians say they believe in the Virgin Birth, but so do an astonishing 47 percent of U.S. non-Christians.

First off, the Virgin Birth isn't meant to be a matter of scientific or historical evidence. For that matter, it's not clear whether such an event *could* be proved by any such evidence. Secondly, one can probably find Biblical scholars who doubt the existence of God. If all Biblical scholars agreed on everything, all Christians would still be Catholic (well, not exactly - you'd still have Biblical non-scholars around - but you get my point).

But it's the claim that 47 percent of non-Christians believe in the Virgin Birth that is most striking. How was this poll taken? Who are these people? You can certainly believe that Jesus was born, was crucified, and had lots of followers without being a Christian. But the Virgin Birth is an event that presumably marks Jesus as, well, somehow special. Perhaps 47 percent of non-Christians didn't fully understand the question? I'd be interested to know how many of them believe in the Immaculate Conception and Transubstantiation as well.

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