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Question.--How was Christ born of the Holy Spirit?
Answer.--In regard to this question, theologians and materialists disagree. The theologians believe that Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, but the materialists think this is impossible and inadmissible, and that without doubt He had a human father.
In the Qur'án it is said: "And We sent Our Spirit unto her, and He appeared unto her in the shape of a perfect man," [Cf. Qur'án 19:17.] meaning that the Holy Spirit took the likeness of the human form, as an image is produced in a mirror, and he addressed Mary.
The materialists believe that there must be marriage, and say that a living body cannot be created from a lifeless body, and without male and female there cannot be fecundation. And they think that not only with man, but also with animals and plants, it is impossible. For this union of the male and female exists in all living beings and plants. This pairing of things is even shown forth in the Qur'án: "Glory be to Him Who has created all the pairs: of such things as the earth produceth, and of themselves; and of things which they know not" [Qur'án 36:35.]--that is to say, men, animals and plants are all in pairs--"and of everything have We created two kinds"--that is to say, We have created all the beings through pairing.
Briefly, they say a man without a human father cannot be imagined. In answer, the theologians say: "This thing is not impossible and unachievable, but it has not been seen; and there is a great difference between a thing which is impossible and one which is unknown. For example, in former times the telegraph, which causes the East and the West to communicate, was unknown but not impossible; photography and phonography were unknown but not impossible."
The materialists insist upon this belief, and the theologians reply: "Is this globe eternal or phenomenal?" The materialists answer that, according to science and important discoveries, it is established that it is phenomenal; in the beginning it was a flaming globe, and gradually it became temperate; a crust was formed around it, and upon this crust plants came into existence, then animals, and finally man.
The theologians say: "Then from your statement it has become evident and clear that mankind is phenomenal upon the globe, and not eternal. Then surely the first man had neither father nor mother, for the existence of man is phenomenal. Is not the creation of man without father and mother, even though gradually, more difficult than if he had simply come into existence without a father? As you admit that the first man came into existence without father or mother--whether it be gradually or at once--there can remain no doubt that a man without a human father is also possible and admissible; you cannot consider this impossible; otherwise, you are illogical. For example, if you say that this lamp has once been lighted without wick and oil, and then say that it is impossible to light it without the wick, this is illogical." Christ had a mother; the first man, as the materialists believe, had neither father nor mother. [This conversation shows the uselessness of discussions upon such questions; the teachings of `Abdu'l-Bahá upon the birth of Christ will be found in the following chapter.]