I've been having a lot of good conversations regarding faith lately. (Some of them right here on this blog! Well, the blogspot version of my blog, anyway.) I like that, because it keeps me thinking. Hopefully I'm not simply chasing my tail here, as I'm sure I've covered some of this stuff before, but I've had this particular post brewing in my head for several weeks now.
I've had a few people express to me that they hope that Jesus would eventually reveal himself to me. Honestly, I hope that if Jesus is indeed real, he'd get to it and start with the revealing already. I also hope that it can happen without me undergoing some sort of horribly traumatic incident. Honestly, if it were to happen that way, then I'd be less likely to believe. I wrote about this before, but stressful situations only tend to make people less rational, and I trust my own judgment much less when I'm in such a state. I hope that if such a thing happens that it occurs when I'm doing something really intellectual like reading The Canterbury Tales or something like that.
But what exactly would me converting to Christianity even entail? It would be a rather huge leap going from where I am now to something like that. Here's the breakdown, along with a ranking on a scale of 1 to 10 how big of a leap it would be for me:
#1. I'd have to start accepting supernatural causes. In one of my conversations, a friend said that she didn't like using the word "supernatural" to describe Jesus. After all, it probably sounds dismissive and condescending. However, that's the word I have to use unless somebody thinks of a better one. The bottom line is that I believe that we live in a natural world with natural causes. Any sort of spirit, whether it directly involves itself with the daily affairs of human beings or not, constitutes as supernatural. This has a Leap Factor of 8.
#2. I'd have to accept the notion of a "creator". Even if we take it from the deistic sense, where the creator made everything and then stepped away, this is still a huge problem for me. After all, it complicates the issue. Sure, wondering how we got here is baffling and confounding, but when you introduce a creator, all you've done is make something that demands even MORE questions - like who created the creator. And if the creator doesn't need a creator, then why can't the universe not need a creator? Leap Factor of 8.
#3. I'd have to believe that the creator has meddled in the affairs of human beings. This is essentially the same problem as #1. Stories this, whether from the past or the present, tend to fall apart under close scrutiny. The only ones that haven't are the ones that haven't been subjected to close scrutiny. Leap Factor of 8.
#4. Of all the creators out there, I have to believe in the Christian version. Not only that, but according to Christian doctrine, I have to believe in that one and ONLY that one. This is the thing that I think a lot of Christians don't get. Even if I get past the first three, and I do start believing in an active God, Christianity doesn't instantly become the default choice for me. As of right now, I give Jesus the exact same probability that I give any other god that people either once believed in or currently believe in. I suppose he gets more credibility than The Flying Spaghetti Monster, where the inventor of that admits that it's a joke (in fact, that's the point of the FSM). Maybe I'll even give him a little bit more credence than the tenets of Scientology as well, as the evidence is really strong that Hubbard is nothing more than a huckster. With Jesus, I don't believe he was that, but he does come from an era of myth making.
I could elaborate on and on, and I know that there are all sorts of Christian apologetic arguments where they try their darndest to make the Jesus story gel with the historical record. In fact, I satirized this recently in my "Star Wars apologetic". One of the best arguments is the "five hundred eye witnesses" to Jesus' resurrection. Who are these 500 eye witnesses? We don't know, but there's a line in the Bible that says that there are 500 eyewitnesses! Funny how NOT A SINGLE ONE left any sort of a written record outside The Bible, isn't it? It's also funny that the Romans, who kept pretty good records, failed to mention the zombies that rose from the grave after Jesus' crucifixion. Strange how that seemed to escape the notice of everybody except for the writer of the Matthew Gospel. (Who wasn't an eyewitness - sorry, apologists.)
My leap factor has been a pretty consistent 8 on everything so far. I don't believe that one should have absolute certainty about certain things - especially when we're dealing with issues as big and near-incomprehensible as this. Still, accepting Jesus and only Jesus? That's a 9.8 on the Leap Factor.
What exactly would Jesus need to do in order for me to accept him? Well, it's going to require something so huge that I can make all of those leaps at once. I've heard that he can do anything though, so I reckon that shouldn't be a problem.