Pareidolia

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The World Trade Center cross was discovered in the debris of the collapsed buildings by construction worker Frank Silecchia who declared “it’s an act of God.” The cross was removed from the debris pile, erected on a concrete pedestal, and placed nearby in a prominent position during the years of reconstruction. During the removal, Fr. Brian Jordan, a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest, blessed the cross with holy water. In june, 2002, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking cleric, and New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan participated in a ceremony at the cross.

Jordan wants the cross to be part of the WTC memorial because most of the victims were Christian and the plurality of those were Catholic, and most of the rescue workers were Catholic.

The efforts of the Catholic Church to promote a random piece of debris to a Catholic icon is a stroke of advertising genius. The media coverage of Jordan’s blessing and the Vatican ceremony is worth millions in free publicity. However, the efforts to include the cross as part of the memorial have failed. The cross will be displayed to a far smaller audience in the museum.

Jordan has been quoted saying the WTC cross “… stands as our symbol of hope, our symbol of faith, our symbol of healing.” The ability of the human mind to associate natural occurrences with familiar objects is called pareidolia. A naturally occurring debris cross, with its simple shape, would not be unexpected. As a matter of fact, several of these debris crosses were found in the rubble.

If the debris cross was a natural occurrence, then its elevation to the level of a Christian icon is a pure fabrication of man, and the motives behind the elevation must be considered. Icons have long played a tangible role in religions whose gods are hidden from our senses. Icons simply highlight the problem of divine hiddenness.

If the debris cross was a supernatural occurrence, then God has the ability to control the physical forces necessary to create and place the cross in the debris field. Therefore, God also had the ability to prevent the 9/11 attacks, and chose not to do so. This leads to questions regarding the presence of evil, which has long posed a problem for Christian apologists, and still does.

At the base of the cross is a plaque saying the cross is “a sign of comfort for all.” It is a sign of discomfort to those who value rationality.

H/T: Pharyngula, Snopes, Snopes, Gotham Gazette, American Atheists, James Croft, The Guardian, 9/11 Memorial.

38 thoughts on “Pareidolia”

  1. Blouise 1, December 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    If there was no image of Jesus on the cross that was found then it was a pronouncement by God that Protestants rule and Catholics drool.
    ======================================
    LOL. 😉

  2. “A better symbol of the aftermath of September 11, 2001 would be a statue of George W. Bush and Barack Obama applying a match to the U.S. Constitution.” -HenMan

    Yep… HenMan has it right…

  3. James in LA 1, December 31, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Cross, schmoss. This is worse: “Heretics Deny The Dark Matter of Faith,” Count me in that camp until something actual is found. Scientists acting like believers give me gas. Ditto small-minded zealots who see divine inspiration in refuse.
    ============================================
    Obviously you are a fair person, not allowing the labels of “religion” or “science” to blind your wit or intellect.

    Good.

    But let’s not forget that “everybody has to believe somebody” (Dredd), and “everybody has to serve somebody” (Dylan)

    A lot of what I “know” is belief in what someone else says they know. So, truth be known, we are all hybrid scientists / religionists.

    The way out of it, IMO, is to question all of it, with all the common sense, wit, analysis, and experience we can muster for ourselves.

    Our true friends will be supportive, understanding, and co-conspirators. 😉

  4. A better symbol of the aftermath of September 11, 2001 would be a statue of George W. Bush and Barack Obama applying a match to the U.S. Constitution.

  5. So God gave us a steel cross as a memento to 9-11? Leave it to the far right religious wackos to try to wiggle a way to bring religion into the mix. If there were more Christians in the building, why didn’t the Christian God protect them and just smite down the Jews and Muslims, etc. Of course, according to some Christians, 9-11 was caused by the sins of the gays so God must have been upset at all New Yorkers! ??? Yikes.

  6. Atheism v. True Religion

    The never ending battle between nitwits…

    “Whenever I hear that a writer of real ability has demonstrated away the freedom of the human will, the hope of a future life, and the existence of God, I am eager to read the book, for I expect him by his talents to increase my insight into these matters. Already, before having opened it, I am perfectly certain that he has not justified any one of his specific claims; not because I believe that I am in possession of conclusive proofs of these important propositions, but because the transcendental critique, which has disclosed to me all the resources of our pure reason, has completely convinced me that, as reason is incompetent to arrive at affirmative assertions in this field, it is equally unable, indeed even less able, to establish any negative conclusion in regard to these questions. For from what source will the free thinker derive his professed knowledge that there is, for example, no supreme being? This proposition is outside the field of possible experience, and therefore beyond the limits of all human insight.”

    http://www.hkbu.edu.hk/~ppp/cpr/dmeth.html

  7. If there was no image of Jesus on the cross that was found then it was a pronouncement by God that Protestants rule and Catholics drool.

    You see … Catholics have the crucifix which is complete with an image of Jesus whereas Protestants believe that an image of Jesus on the Cross makes it a graven image and thus a form of idol worship. Some Protestants also believe that displaying Jesus on the Cross is a statement that the wearer or worshiper does not believe in the Resurrection which, of coarse is the main tenant of Christianity.
    (Easter triumphs over Good Friday for those of you who want it simple.) … so Protestants prefer an empty Cross.

    However … Christianity has inspired some to create pure beauty, comforting millions down through the ages and as an example I give you the following:

  8. An Hispanic women just called in to let everyone know that it’s not a cross. It’s the Virgin Mary. It’s not as clear as the rust-stained Chicago freeway underpass Virgin Mary, but it’s definitely the Virgin Mary.

  9. Like rcampbell, I was drawn to this quotation and I find it stupid and insulting. If even one Jew, one Muslim, one Hindu, one Buddhist and or one atheist died in the WTC, then this reasoning is specious and obnoxious:

    “Jordan wants the cross to be part of the WTC memorial because most of the victims were Christian and the plurality of those were Catholic, and most of the rescue workers were Catholic.”

    However, we know that many of non-Christian faiths did die in the WTC. How does this tragic event merit a calculation of the religions/ethnicities of those who died? Secondly, there is the assumption that many of the Police Officers and Firemen were Catholic, how is that known. The notion of an Irish NYPD and NYFD have passed into history. To resurrect it here does show some bigotry. This is nonsense and a publicity stunt for which the promoters should be ashamed. Whatever religion of the victims, whatever their citizenship status, for surely some non-American died, use of religious symbolism in this context is a desecration and is akin to the beliefs of those who committed this heinous act.

  10. Cross, schmoss. This is worse: “Heretics Deny The Dark Matter of Faith,” Count me in that camp until something actual is found. Scientists acting like believers give me gas. Ditto small-minded zealots who see divine inspiration in refuse.

  11. Otteray Scribe 1, December 31, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I wonder if anyone has bothered to survey the companies who implode large buildings professionally? We could get the exact number of cross shapes appearing in the steel girders of the building rubble?

    You could glut the rusty cross market with those items.
    =======================================
    Indeed, anywhere a post and beam (vert. & horiz. structural members) intersect is a cross.

  12. I wonder if anyone has bothered to survey the companies who implode large buildings professionally? We could get the exact number of cross shapes appearing in the steel girders of the building rubble?

    You could glut the rusty cross market with those items.

  13. Icons have long played a tangible role in religions whose gods are hidden from our senses. Icons simply highlight the problem of divine hiddenness.”

    That link goes on to a site that brings up the Fermi Paradox as a comparable supreme “hiddenness”.

    However, there are vastly greater examples, such as Heretics Deny The Dark Matter of Faith, concerning a controversy in science over something that has never been touched, felt, heard, tasted, or seen, yet is, like the notion of god, supposed to be everywhere too.

  14. If one were to blow up a couple of 100+ story buildings made of steel girders and concrete, the odds of a cross appearing in the wreckage approaches 100%. Increasing the odds are the fact that girders making up a rectangular building are attached to each other at right angles.

    If the building were curvilinear, such as some of the ultramodern computer designed buildings under construction, the odds of a symmetrical cross will reduce slightly, but still be high.

    And why not a Star of David or Islamic Crescent? Simply because those symbols do not have right-angled intersections. A cross is a very simple design, while both the other symbols are relatively complex.

    Had a Star of David and Islamic Crescent with Star in the appropriate relationship appeared, then I would be impressed, if for no other reason that the odds of that happening are slim to none. As I recall, a number of people of those faiths died in those buildings as well, so their memories are just as important to those who loved them as the Christians who died.

    I see that someone has made a toaster that burns the logo of the National Rifle Association into toast. If they can do that, I think I might try to come up with one that burns pictures of your favorite deity in your toast. I should make millions if recent auction prices are to be believed.

  15. “Jordan wants the cross to be part of the WTC memorial because most of the victims were Christian and the plurality of those were Catholic, and most of the rescue workers were Catholic.”

    It took some seriously tortured logic for Mr Jordan to arrive at that conclusion. Either that or, as I suspect, an even more seriously tortured attempt by the Catholic Church, or at least some of its ardent adherents, to appropriate and usurp the ecumenical memorial for their narrow parochial gain.

Comments are closed.