© 2005 Jamie Zawinski
I've been thinking about transubstantiation, the belief of many
branches of Christianity that when you take communion, the bread and
wine transform physically into the flesh and blood of
Christ. According to the Catholic Church as late as 1965, this is
literally true, not just symbolism: the flesh is present, the bread is
So let's run some numbers.
- The Roman Catholic Church says that there are around 1.1 billion
baptized Catholics in the world today.
- The current world population is 6.3 billion (17% Catholic.)
- The world population in A.D. 1930 was around 1 billion.
- The world population in A.D. 1 was around 300 million.
- If we assume an average lifespan of 50 years (which is
probably low, since the curve is so steep at the modern end) that
gives us 40 non-overlapping "generations". So if we put 1, 2, and 6 in
the last three buckets, and .4 in every previous bucket, that gives 23
billion as a guess at how many people have been alive during the last
two thousand years. (I'm not sure this is a valid generalization to
make; do you have a better guess?)
- I'm not sure how quickly Christianity grew, but let's
guess that 12% of all those people were Christian, of a variety that
believed in transubstantiation. (I think this is probably a reasonable
guess because Christianity was very widespread by the 10th century or
so, and by the numbers above, 83% of the population came after that.)
- How often do these folks take the Eucharist, on average?
For the devout, it will be once a week, or maybe even more
frequently. But we don't know how many of the total number of baptized
Catholics above are practicing, so let's guess that the average is
4×/year. At a 50 year lifespan, that's 200×.
- By my measure, one "sip" is 1/4 fl. oz.
- One serving of Ritz crackers is 5 crackers at 100 grams,
or 20 grams per cracker. However, modern
communion wafers are
significantly thinner than crackers. So let's be conservative and call
this 2 grams per cracker.
- An adult male contains about
- The current average weight for an American male is 180
pounds, but Americans are fatties and people used to be smaller, so
let's call the two-millennium average 120 pounds.
Which gives us:
| 23,000,000,000|| people|
|×|| 200|| communions|
|=|| 552,000,000,000|| servings|
|×|| 0.25|| fl. oz.|
|=|| 138,000,000,000|| gallons of blood|
|×|| 2|| grams|
|=|| 2,433,903,400|| pounds of flesh|
|=|| 1,216,952|| tons of flesh|
So how big is Jesus?
If you conservatively assume that these are the End Times and
that Jesus will soon be completely consumed (a detail that I do not
believe is a part of mainstream Christian dogma), then he weighs
twenty million times more than you, and contains ninety-two billion
times as much blood. (20,282,528× and 92,000,000,000×).
(If you assume that only the priest drinks the wine instead of
every supplicant having a sip, then the blood ratio is smaller by
around two orders of magnitude, depending on the priest/non-priest
By comparison, the largest living animal on Earth is the Blue
Whale, at a paltry 150 tons (a mere 2,500× bigger than you). It
is believed that the largest dinosaur, the Argentinosaurus, weighed
only 90 tons.
However, perhaps Jesus, like Wolverine, has amazing regenerative
powers (in which case, it's surprising it took him three days to
return from the dead. But maybe he was just taking a little time-out.)
I'm told that the average person sheds 40 pounds of skin in a
lifetime, and that 70% of household dust is dessicated human. I will
leave further research along this line of thinking to others.
I have been informed of prior related research along these lines
atoms of Jesus do you eat every day?"