For those who have followed the news recently—or, in fact, for the past thirteen years—relevance has been granted to a group of steel beams found “amidst the debris of the World Trade Center following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,” steel beams which, to the religiously inclined, obviously resemble a Christian cross. Never mind that such constructs exist in every structure built with crosswise supports, like the transverse beams of a sailing ship built centuries ago. This one, by golly, is a sign! Despite being nothing more meaningful than two crossed structural steel beams, it’s obviously a Christian cross. Right?
And so you see a face on Mars. And an elephant in a cloud. And Jesus in a piece of toast. All because you see meaning where none exists.
Unfortunately for atheists, they also see a cross where none exists, and so they spin their wheels and rage against the machine and battle to keep a religious symbol out of public life—a religious symbol that does not exist.
Why doesn’t it exist? Because it’s just a pair of crossed steel beams, the same kind of crossed beams found around the globe in any structure built with the same specifications, whether built of wood or concrete or steel or whatever. In the end, transverse structural support is just that—crosswise bracing. It’s nothing more complicated than that.
Nevertheless, people want to find meaning in it, and those people are Christian and atheist and any number of other groups.
What all these people suffer from is a form of apophenia called pareidolia: the ability of the human mind to find meaning in random stimuli. If you see patterns in clouds or see a face on the moon or hear meaning in records played in reverse, you’re suffering from pareidolia. And if a structure falls and you see a cross in two steel beams, you’re suffering from pareidolia as well.
How do I know? Let me show you the dragon I found.
There it lurked in the woods, staring at me even as I stared at it. A dragon. A monster. A mythological beast as real as I am.
I saw it, I photographed it, I experienced it.
Camouflaged to look like so much debris, evolved to seem as innocent as a fallen tree in the forest, the dragon never flinched as I looked at it. And I never flinched as I photographed it.
For it gave me proof that such creatures exist, pictures of a demon heretofore considered a whimsical thing, an unreal thing, an imaginary thing. Yet there it was.
While others might see only a rough wood felled by nature itself, I know better. Just as others see a cross in the steel beams of a fallen building, I see a dragon in the fallen remnants of a tree.
If they’re right about the cross, then I’m right about the dragon.