It is always incredibly exciting and amusing when someone says this to me or I say it to myself.

"Look!" my companion says. "That twig looks like Jesus!" I look down at it, examine it. I pick it up and gaze at it intently. "Lordy," say I, "It does look like Jesus!"

I was reading a comic book one time. I think it was some issue of Ghost Rider. Ghost Rider, who is this badass antihero who has a flaming skull for a head, is fighting some horrible monster, and getting thrashed badly. Suddenly, some stranger comes out of the crowd that has gathered around their battle and saves Ghost Rider's life. "Man," I say to myself, "That stranger looks like Jesus!" (And, in fact, I do believe it was Jesus, however it was never explicated)

Now, I'm an agnostic (and formerly a reformed Jew), and therefore I am by no means a Jesus freak. However, this has also happened with trees, people I've met on the street, puddles of water, and the like. It is a very odd phenomenon. Is it because the image of Jesus is burnt so terribly deeply into our subconscious, we just began to associate images and objects with Jesus at random?

Or is it just that an alarming number of things look a lot like Jesus?
Does anybody actually know what he looked like? He almost always has a beard in depictions of him I've seen, but I've heard it argued by many people that a carpenter of the period in his circumstances would almost certainly have been clean-shaven. So why give Jesus the beard? While we're at it why not just give him a goatee and make him look sinister and evil?

Anyway, on to the actual topic. It seems to me that fanatical people are usually really weird. Imagine, if you will, someone who's spent their whole life becoming more and more obsessed with one guy (my apologies to those out there whom I'm now describing). They think, breath, drink (literally), eat, and dream Jesus. Wouldn't you'd expect, if you were similarly preoccupied, that you'd start to see Jesus everywhere? I'd probably see him twice in my frosted flakes every morning.

On the other hand, if God knew about Jesus from the beginning (which he must have; see omniscience) and he also knew how important the guy would be (which he also must have known), it would be perfectly reasonable for his image to be ingrained into every particle in the universe and reveal itself in nature like some freaky righteous fractal. So it would make perfect sense that the image of Jesus would show up everywhere.

In short, I have nothing new to contribute to this argument other than that either option is possible and perhaps even equally likely. You know that old saying: "Ask a silly agnostic a question, get an answer containing more style than substance". Or to put it another way (to all you Tolkien fans out there): "If you ask an agnostic for advice, he will say both no and yes".

Of course, every culture that has adopted Christianity has put their own spin on what Jesus looks like. For example, in European artwork, Jesus is depicted as being white. In African art depicting Christ, he is sometimes portrayed as black (incidentally, this is probably correct. Being of Middle Eastern descent, Jesus was a black man.) For every culture that has adopted christianity (or had Christianity forced on them), there is a different way of depicting Jesus.

Of course, as people, we have the tendancy to see faces everywhere, even in random images. It's hardwired into our brains, and it's part of the reason we are able to recognize different people. It's not a new development, either, but it's been that way for quite a while (we've known about the man in the moon for millenia). So, it's not surprising that we see Jesus's face in many places -- as humans, we see faces everywhere, and Jesus has a distinctive and well-known face (at least, the European version does; I assume the other types have equally distinctive and well-known faces).

Of course, this w/u is following in morgandorf's footsteps, in that it doesn't answer the fundamental question. Either (a) people who have constantly been exposed to images (of what some artist thinks Jesus looked like) naturally begin seeing that image everywhere, or (b) God knew that this is how we would depict Jesus, and thus naturally made things that looked like what our depiction of Jesus would look like, 2000 years in the future.

Out of curiousity, do Buddhist people see the face of Buddha in random objects? Do Jews see Yahweh (or an artists rendition of him) in their potato chips? Do Discordians see images of Eris right before they partake of their hot dogs? Inquiring minds want to know!

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