‘Tis the season of miracles. Christmas miracles, at least. In general, I don’t buy into the paranormal part of Christmas. I don’t believe in God, and I’m not sure I believe that Jesus ever existed. Even if there was someone named Jesus, I don’t think he was born through immaculate conception… more likely, teenager Mary just pulled off the greatest cover up of an unwanted pregnancy in history.
However, before the religious fundies tie me to the stake, I should redeem myself a little. I do believe in virgin birth. Lizard virgin birth, at least. That’s because a virgin Komodo Dragon is giving birth to eight little baby Komodo dragons. Not just one immaculate conception! Eight little immaculate conceptions! Beat that, Mary!
Personally, I think that it’s incredible that a giant, virgin female lizard can fertilize her own eggs and give birth. In the Carl Sagan Cosmos sort of way, I feel very spiritual about the concept. This is certainly an example of the universe impressing me. Why go looking for paranormal miracles when there’s so much amazing real stuff going on in the world? Personally, science provides me with more feelings of awe and humility than religion ever did.
I don’t think that biologists really understand Komodo Dragon parthenogenesis yet. Some might call it paranormal, the hand of God trying to save an endangered species. In the language of Richard Dawkins, I’d call it perinormal, something which currently seems outside the realm of science but which may one day be understood through scientific principles. I’d say evolution is central to the answer. Are self-fertilizing eggs any more remarkable than eyeballs, wings, color-changing skin, and magnetic navigation systems? All of these characteristics of animals are incredible, and all can be explained through evolution.
So, who knows? Maybe after another few hundred centuries, human virgin birth will be possible. Though, it would be a shame, in a way. I mean, I’m sure Miss Flora the Komodo Dragon would have preferred that a sexy male dragon had fertilized her eggs.