From conspiracy theories to apocalyptic predictions, the fire at Notre Dame is a good example of how people will stop at nothing to apply their own narratives to world events, even when that event is splayed out for the world to see.
Contributing to this age-old trend is a phenomenon called pareidolia, which causes some people to see messages or images like faces or figures in the word around us.
While reading a news article about the fire, Lesley Rowan saw what she believed to be an image of Jesus in the flames. According to the Daily Mail, she was so moved by the image that she took to Facebook to share her thoughts about it.
“I may be letting my mind play tricks on me here, folks take a close look at this picture and what do you see,” the 38-year-old from Scotland wrote. With her post, she shared an image that highlighted a form that she thought to be Jesus.
— Newshub (@NewshubNZ) April 17, 2019
According to Rowan, the image “will bring comfort to people in Paris and all over the world at this sad time.”
Whether or not Rowan’s imagination will bring comfort remains to be seen, but she’s definitely influencing the imaginations of other people.
“I can see it pretty clear, gown and all,” one person commented on her post.
“Yeah I saw it straight away – it’s Jesus!” commented another.
One person suggested the tragic fire was a symbol of God’s wrath.
“Imagine this was how god showed us he wasn’t happy with us, by using acts of god to take away ancient, beautiful monuments/ and cathedrals.”
While people like me see Rowan’s musings as rather harmless, skeptics like Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist take a slightly harsher, although rational approach.
“If Jesus actually gave a damn about any of this, maybe not letting the building catch on fire would’ve been a start, rather than appearing in the wreckage,” Mehta writes.
“It’s like God getting credit for a plane crash that killed 49 people but saved 1. The people who believe this nonsense are so wrapped up in their bubble that they fail to see the obvious hypocrisy.”
Either way, the real miracle here is that some of the structure was saved, and there’s a plan in place to have it fully restored in 5 years.
Featured image: Getty Images via Daily Mail