A small village in the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga was graced with a divine vision. A cloud, which was similar to the image of the Virgin Mary or Jesus, hovered over the village of Halaleva. A local resident, Joey Mataele, snapped the photograph of a golden figure in the sky.
Mr. Mataele stated that people in the village could clearly see a head, body and feet. It was a clear outline of the human like figure. Mataele’s niece, Onelua, told 7 News Online,
We all thought it was an image of Jesus.
While some people attribute this event to a divine message from heaven, skeptics state its simple pareidolia; the brain tricking the eyes into seeing familiar objects in patterns or textures.
Pareidolia is pretty common. People see images of Jesus in pancakes and toast a lot. Even the so called “man on the moon” is an effect of this common visual matrixing.
It is pretty common among UFO and paranormal circles to see dubious articles about NASA or the Mars Rover snapping pictures of strange aliens running around the Martian surface.
The fact of the matter is that it is the sign of a healthy brain when pareidolia occurs. The ventral fusiform cortex, the part of the brain where this processing occurs, is pretty efficient, and designed to establish patterns almost immediately. The average time it takes for a person to establish a pattern, especially a facial pattern, is between 130 and 160 milliseconds. This is a good thing from an evolutionary standpoint. In a fight or flight situation, a person does not really have a lot of time to sort out a friend from a guy who is going to put a stone axe into your skull.
In the case of seeing Jesus or the Virgin Mary in the clouds, it really depends the the viewer. If that pattern is established by experience, imprinted in a person’s brain by their culture, then their brain will naturally use it as a data source to form the image. That means that if someone has never seen an image of Jesus before, the cloud would be perceived totally differently.
Image of the Messiah or not, it’s better to err on the side of caution… so Hallelujah! Praise be!