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He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very knobbly tree stump

August 11th, 2012 by Angry Young Man Comments


Someone call the Ghostbusters, or the Mythbusters. Either or.

It seems the journalistic elite of Belfast have got an easy story, that is not based in fact – no no – it’s based on interpretation. The interpretation of a tree stump, found while looking at YouTube. Never before have the words you and tube been more apt. Except for all those epic failures you see on the site. Yes, failures. Because Epic Fail is grammatically incorrect and I care not for memes, or pop culture.

That’s right, a tree stump in a cemetery in west Belfast looks like it has the image of a face on it, and not any face – the face of Jesus. Lordy – it’s a miracle!

If you squint your eyes, while looking at the image upside down, hopping on one foot, it kind of looks like a face. But is it really the face of Jesus? No it isn’t. Not unless Jesus looks more like Pete Townshend, or Osama Bin Laden, or Brandon Lee than Jesus.

Given that there is no consensus on what Jesus actually looked like, as there are no historical records of Jesus outside of the Bible, and the Bible isn’t considered a historical document by academic scientists, it causes one great pain to see journalists actually covering this as an actual story in an actual newspaper, or on an actual website. I mean, you have to train to be a journalist. It’s not like you are drinking your tea one morning and you see some leaves in it and think: “Hey, this prophecy states I must be a hack”. Well, maybe some of us do. But not me, I trained to do this. And I don’t appreciate nonsense.

In an article appearing on various news websites in Northern Ireland is this: “A video (image below) of the mysterious image has been posted to YouTube, with the message: “An image has appeared on a tree stump in Belfast’s City Cemetery. “Upon close inspection, its hard to tell just how this image got there. Recently City Council employees trimmed trees in the cemetery, and as a result this phenomenon appeared.”

Firstly it is not an image. It is a random occurrence, obviously created after some one cut down the tree and the stump blackened due to the innards of the tree being exposed to air (or something like that – I’m just postulating). The image only appears when a human being looks at it and interprets it to be something. Secondly, it is not a ‘phenomenon’. It’s not like the tree is bleeding human blood and cherubs are singing around it. Okay, it is a phenomenon – in the sense that it is ‘an observable occurrence’ but it’s hardly phenomenal. It certainly isn’t difficult to figure out how it got there. Someone cut down the tree, the tree stump ended up looking like a emo kid has drawn a face on it, and that’s that.

I mean, come on, just use Occam’s Razor here (not to cut the tree down, that’d take ages). Trees get cut down every day, some end up with funny marks on them, now lets get on with breaking some real news stories.

And just in case some one comes off with the Exodus 20:4 quote: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” I have a completely contradictory Bible quote for you: ”And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them” Exodus 25:18.

So, it’s not the image of the Christian saviour – it’s a tree stump. I don’t even know why I have to point that out. And even if it was the image of the anointed one, surely he should have better things to do than putting his bake on a stump in a cemetery. You know, like curing cancer, stopping babies being born still born, or turning some more of that boring water into lovely lovely booze.

And now time for some science – the art of seeing images where no actual image exists is called pareidolia, like seeing the man on the moon. Imagine seeing a newspaper headline stating: “Child see man’s face on moon.”

David Hume put it best I think: “There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good- will to every thing, that hurts or pleases us.”

Carl Sagan said that it was evolutionarily advantageous to infants to see faces in things and to respond to them. I like Sagan, but I, even as a lay man must disagree, I find it difficult to see how it is evolutionarily advantageous to see faces of lords and saviours in tree stumps. However, it is advantageous to see images of predators or food, because even if after further investigation it is not in fact a predator or food, at least you checked.

So, here in a west Belfast cemetery lies a perfect example of when a naturally occurring ‘phenomenon’ becomes an optical illusion that then becomes a religious delusion.

Can you hear that? That’s me slow clapping.

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The Angry Young man is shockingly clever, unwittingly funny and, well, furiously angry. But harmless. Mostly. He loves games, zombies and books. Not necessarily in that order.