A Passage from Abdu’l-Baha on the Virgin Birth

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a passage from a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the original text of which has been published in Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 2, p. 81

Thy second question concerneth the impregnation of Mary through the Holy Spirit. This is an established and certain fact, but some of the philosophers of Europe have regarded this matter with doubt, accounting a fatherless son as an impossibility that cannot exist. They have deemed, as evidence for this, that reproduction is dependent upon the combination of sperm and an ovum. Such is what they say—yet on the other hand, those same philosophers of Europe consider the planet Earth to have been originated, stating that, in the beginning, it was a ball of fire, its heat gradually dissipated, and a crust appeared. With time, that crust grew thick and became stable, and then vegetables, animals, and humans came into being. They even say that, using the science of stratigraphy, they can ascertain and prove which animals predate others. In short, the philosophers and scientists of Europe do not regard the origination of these three kingdoms with any doubt whatsoever; indeed, they uphold it with a strange insistence. This being the case, according to their belief, the first person was created and born without a father. Given that they acknowledge and admit to this, how is it that they consider the birth of Christ through the effluence of the Holy Spirit to be a cause for wonder and amazement? For Christ had a mother, but the first human was born without either father or mother. “Take ye good heed, O people of insight!”*


* Qur’án 59:2.

A typescript of the original Persian text of this passage appears below. 

مسئلۀ ثانی حمل حضرت مریم بروح القدس است این مثبوت و مسلّم است ولی بعضی از فلاسفه اروپ در این مسئله شبهه نمودند و مولود بی‌پدر را ممتنع و معدوم شمردند و برهان این دانستند که توالد و تناسل مشروط باجتماع اصلاب و بذور ارحام است چنین گویند امّا از جهت دیگر نفس فلاسفه اروپ کره ارض را حادث دانند و گویند در بدایت شعله نار بوده کم کم حرارت مندفع و قشری پدیدار گشت آن قشر بتدریج غلظت یافت و اعتدال پیدا نمود پس نبات و حیوان و انسان تکوّن و تولّد یافت حتّی گویند بحسب فنّ طبقات ارض در تکوّن کدام یک از حیوانات بر دیگری سبقت داشته ثابت و محقّق میگردد خلاصه فلاسفه و ارباب فنون اروپ در حدوث موالید ثلاثه ابداً شبهه ندارند بلکه اصرار و ابرامی عجیب دارند در اینصورت باعتقاد ایشان نخستین انسان بی‌پدر و مادر تکوّن و تولّد یافته با وجود این اذعان و اعتراف چگونه از تولّد حضرت مسیح بفیض روح القدس استغراب و استعجاب نمایند زیرا حضرت مادر داشتند ولی مولود نخستین انسان بی‌پدر و مادر فاعتبروا یا اولی الابصار