This is a tale of Visions and Signs from God, and of the Tiger Who Came to Tea – eventually.
Throughout history, signs and visions from a God or gods have been reported in all sorts of places: lights and cloud formations in the sky, entrails, tea leaves (in pre-teabag days!) and other natural phenomena. They often lead to amazing acts of bravery or compassion – sometimes even to being burned at the stake.
Here’s a fairly typical example of a miraculous “vision” which made the press a few years ago:
Yes – it’s a representation of a classic portrait of Jesus – on a slice of toast.
Now look at this picture:
It’s just a random set of dots. But, now watch this short video:
We can’t help but “see” moving human figures doing a variety of actions: it’s just moving dots. But our brains are very good at joining the dots. What’s going on? Why do our brains trick us in this way?
In evolutionary timescales, it’s but a blinking of an eye since our hunter-gatherer days.
Imagine a scene from this period. Times are hard for the tribe. Food is scarce. Two hunters are out looking for food to kill. In the middle distance, Hunter A notices a movement in the bushes. The subtle changes of light and dark patterns in the leaves and branches alert him instantly. It’s the tell-tale pattern of movement of a tiger on the prowl. He runs for cover. Hunter B notices nothing and carries on hunting.
Nothing happens. It’s just the wind in the trees.
The same story is repeated for ninety-nine days. Hunter A is hungrier and more tired than his companion, because of all the unnecessary running around. But on the hundredth day, there really is a tiger!
So the moral of this tale is:
- Hunter A, tired and hungry though he is, goes on to pass on his genes to his children.
- Hunter B is eaten by the Tiger Who Came to Tea on the hundredth day.
And that, dear reader, is an example of what Charles Darwin first called “natural selection”.