Since the scientific and technological revolution began in 19th century there has been a strong atheist ground in the work of many important New Testament scholars. Academic purity, validity, proper methodologies and correct interpretations of the texts are evaluated on this deep basis.. It is not always very obvious, though, as the impact of the frozen ground below can have subtle effects on the research.
Atheism in NT studies is not theoretical but practical. The following statements define this philosophy in relation to the Nativity stories in Luke and Matthew
since there is no God who controls the flow of history, past, present and future, the pattern of prophecy-fulfillment is false. The so called prophecies relate to events in the life time of the prophet and there is no organic or real connection to the late interpretation of these texts which are essentially falsifications of the true meaning of the prophetic text.
Matthew and Luke are both driven with the need to demonstrate that Jesus is the promised Messiah King.
Isaiah writes that a virgin gives birth to a boy and gives to this child titles worthy of an Assyrian Great King. The Hebrew betulah, young woman, virgin, is translated parthenos. virgin, in Greek.
According to the atheist view it is simply impossible that a virgin would become pregnant and there is certain vagueness in Isaiah which could be translated young woman (in these days it is not as obvious as in the past that young women are also virgins). Because of this, the stories about Mary's pregnancy must be pious fiction
Luke cooks up an impressive scenery in Nazareth while Matthew just mentions that Mary was pregnant before the consumption of marriage with Joseph.
A sticking point is where the Messiah is born. So Luke cooks up an unhistorical story about Roman census and the going of Joseph and pregnant Mary to the City of David, Bethlehem.
Matthew, on the other hand, knows that Joseph has a house in Bethlehem so no problem there. But how he became known as the Nazarene? To solve this Matthew invents the story of escape to Egypt and return from there to the city of Nazareth, citing a prophecy in this context too.
In all these modern critical-historical understandings of the Nativity stories the deep underlying ground is atheism. There is no God in charge of events, no angels giving messages, no purpose in what happens - it is all fiction and Early Christianity imagination.
This continues, of course, all the way from the Manger to the Garden Tomb, with the denial of resurrection as there is no God able to raise the dead.
1. God is.
2- It is truly difficult to identify a Roman period or even a modern writer genius enough to invent something like the Nativity story in the Gospel of Luke.