I love the Guiness book of World Records. They include some of the silliest records ever created (such as the amount of spoons balanced on your face), give them as much credit as the truly epic. (such as the tallest building in the world) However, my favorite right now is the “highest price paid for a Grilled cheese”. What would you estimate that price to be? 20-30 dollars? Maybe 50 if the cheese is exceptionally unique, and I really want variety, as though the cheese was exquisitely foreign, or difficult to make.
However, the highest price was $28,000 for a single slice of sandwich. And you couldn’t eat it. It was one of a kind, and impossible to replicate. Why, you ask? Because it had the face of the Virgin Mary on it.
The sandwich was found in 1994, and was kept as a collectible for many years, until it was sold to Goldenpalace.com in 2004.
But how could one see a saint on this simple sandwich? The answer lies in one’s ability to see order in randomness.
I’m currently reading a book called How We Know what isn’t so: The fallibility of human reason in everyday life by Tom Gilovich. Gilovich has a simple goal; to show us the fallacious assumptions that man makes about simple things like medicine, confidence, or other everyday objects. We use these assumptions in an inaccurate manner, But these elements often get in the way of our ability to think rationally. We simply assume that something works because of our rational presuppositions.
This applies directly to the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese. The sandwich developed a burn that “randomly” formed the image of what it’s owner supposed was the Virgin Mary. However, if we weren’t to think that, we would have just seen the burns, and eaten the sandwich, not knowing what was on it.
What made the woman think about this? I cannot say. Some would state that it was emotional desire, religious rigor, or one of a dozen factors that one can think of. But that’s not the point. The danger of the randomness of a burn mark is when someone sees it as something more than random; something that helps that person develop a “Religious belief” about the concept.
Religious beliefs are those things that we accept and that drive our life; that are based in presupposed concepts. For example, you presuppose the existence of matter. We all do. Without that presupposition, you wouldn’t trust the chair you are currently sitting on. Humans’ tendency to see order in randomness often causes them to find truths where they ought not exist. They base beliefs and assumptions on these.
Does this mean that there isn’t beauty in randomness ? Absolutely not. We must simply be wary of putting claims of truth within randomness, for it is random, then there is no planned claims of truth.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna finish my pancake with Nelson Mandela’s silhouette on it.