Pareidolatry May 4, 2015


A cute cartoon from People in White Coats. Is this blasphemy, or a miracle – or can it be both?

While I probably would have shared it just for the punny title (mashing together pareidolia and idolatry), there is a serious point worth reflecting on – and not just about our human penchant to see patterns where none have been intentionally created.

Religious traditions tend to view the miraculous claims of other religious traditions as blasphemous. Mary appearing? Blasphemous to most Protestants. Gabriel appearing to Muhammad? Blasphemous to many Christians. Jesus dying and rising again? Blasphemous to Muslims.

And so the truth is that claims to the miraculous do not settle matters for most religious believers. Claims that conflict with one’s own tradition are dismissed as legends or lies or demonic deceptions.

And yet unless one is willing to take seriously similar criticisms of one’s own tradition’s claims about miracles, it would seem that one should be careful about making such criticisms of others.

Something about throwing blasphemous stones in miraculous houses…

"Where have they stayed this? Can you provide some links or references? Thanks."

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  • Pliny the in Between

    I suppose a more worrisome piece of toast would have had a likeness of either Abu Bakr as-Siddiq or Ali ibn Abi Talib

  • At the very least, can the international community agree that “blasphemy laws” are a sham and a threat to freedom around the world?

  • ccws

    Rut-roh. Muhammad is toast! Just don’t tell ISIS…