“Ford, you’re turning into a penguin.”

That’s the quote that came to my mind as I was thinking about Easter.

For those who are not familiar enough with the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, here’s a bit of context: the earthling Arthur Dent and his non-earthling friend Ford Prefect have hitched a ride on a Vogon spaceship, and having been thrown out of it into outer space, they find themselves suddenly, very very improbably, on some other spaceship.

The probability of them being rescued by a passing spaceship before dying from lack of air in outer space was two to the power of two hundred and sixty-seven thousand seven hundred and nine to one against.

But it just so happened that this other spaceship, the Heart of Gold, was powered by the infinite improbability drive, which had, improbably, reached precisely that level just at the right moment…

So Ford and Arthur get rescued by this spaceship, and as the improbability level keeps falling, all sorts of other improbable things happen. Like, for instance, Ford turning into a penguin, which Arthur finds a bit disconcerting.

So why did this improbable quote spring to mind as I was thinking about Easter?

Because wow, can you imagine how it feels when you’ve seen someone you know die a horrible death, you’ve seen him buried, you’ve seen a humungous rock rolled into place to keep the tomb closed, and when you come back a couple of days later you find he’s gone. And not only that, but you then meet him – he’s standing in front of you and talking to you, and he’s not a ghost, he’s got a body that you can touch, and he can eat food, and lots of other people see him too so you know you’re not just dreaming it up.

But… but… but… this isn’t supposed to happen… dead people don’t… this is probably even more improbable than what happened to Ford and Arthur. And unlike what happened to them, this is actually real. This happened to a man called Jesus about 2000 years ago, in a little corner of the Roman Empire – a man who had gone around telling his friends that he’s going to be crucified and on the third day he’s going to come back to life.

Even more improbable – not only did he do this thing dead people very definitely don’t, he even said he was going to do it.

Hang on, I hear you say, hang on a minute – how do you know this really happened? Why should we believe you? After all, everybody knows that dead people don’t come back to life.

Yes, that’s what I was just saying… it’s so improbable, which is what makes it so amazing. You see, if Jesus came back to life after being dead and buried, then… well, that means he can do supernatural stuff! That means he’s… God, or something…

So why should you believe that this stuff really happened? Here’s a really cool cartoon that explains it. (No penguins though. Sorry.)


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