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Virgin births: Real, selective memory or something else

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The world was (maybe) a little shocked last week by the story of a nun who gave birth to a boy and named him after the Pope, claiming she didn't know she was pregnant. Was that a virgin birth or a case of selective memory? Was it maybe something else? Sources say there have been 45 so-called virgin or sexless births in the U.S. alone.

Other than in the Bible, is a virgin birth even truly possible? Let’s go back a bit in history to one of the more famous cases.

An aristocrat, Madeleine d’Auvermont, was put on trial for adultery in 17th century France. Her husband had left France four years before the birth of a healthy baby boy. Guilty, right? Not so fast.

The brilliant Madam d’Auvermont claimed that she had intense thoughts about her husband at night and conceived through the “power of imagination.” You’d think she would have been laughed out of court, but not so. Top physicians and theologians of the age mulled over the case and decided that it was theoretically possible.

In the end, the child was judged to be the legal offspring of her husband and heir to the family fortune. By the way, Madam d’Auvermont named the child Emmanuel, another name for Jesus Christ.

This is just one of many defenses attempted, won and lost by women throughout time. It may sound strange to us now but, up until quite recently, women were the ones who bore the brunt of an illicit pregnancy so they had to do something. The “Mary defense,” as it’s generally called, was worth a shot.

And then there’s the theory of telegony, the belief that a child could be influenced by an earlier conception. Even Hippocrates himself, the father of modern medicine, testified for a woman accused of adultery who gave birth to a very dark-skinned child when both she and her husband were very pale. How did this happen? Because she had a portrait of a Moor hanging over her bed and it imprinted on her, and thus the baby, at the moment of conception.

According to telegony, a woman who remarried could give birth to a child who was a biological offspring of her first husband. I mean, after all, credible science during these ancient times knew how impressionable women were, right?

Not to be taken lightly, the theory of telegony was even mentioned in “Variations of Animals and Plants Under Domestication” by none other than Charles Darwin. Current scientists still wonder about it.

So what do you think? Are there reliable grounds for a truly sexless or virgin birth or are these things merely creative lies and tall tales? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

SOURCE: The Daily Beast

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