Columns

Intellectual feebleness, Rev Miller

Mark WIGNALL

Thursday, August 14, 2014    

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DRIVEN by the twin imperatives of his religious 'calling' and the burden constantly triggering his need to mount a public podium 'Mr Bawl Out' himself, the Rev Al Miller, wrote a spectacular bit of religious nonsense, 'God is speaking to Jamaica in the drought', on July 29 in which he attributes the drought to every human foible and wickedness we Jamaicans have embarked on.

According to him, God is responding. By the powers that he has inscribed on, and ascribed to, his God, the divine entity, is the maker of everything, and God is hopping mad that we have turned our eyes away from him. As if in love with self-inflicted pain -- there is a word for that -- Rev Miller doubled down and penned part two on August 10, specifically in response to my criticising his piece, but also as a grand opportunity to claim that the rains which came since were as a result of his intervention.

I can hear him now: "Yes, it's me again, Jah. I am on my knees begging you for rain. It's me again, Jah! That's why I am calling you. Please remember, Jah, I sent you credit last week, so call me as soon as you decide to release the moisture from the clouds."

Let us understand a few things. If there were no death, there would be no need for religion of any stripe. And since there is the fact of death, fear of the unknown, and religion, men and women of all types will claim that they have the special powers to communicate with God; and even better, they can intercede on our behalf through their prayers. Others are mere weak vessels who need clergymen to think for them.

It is also important to understand that about 100 per cent of atheists were once religious, while about 100 per cent of religious people have always been so. At the risk of sounding immodest, and even arrogant, atheists like me have dug into many sides of the argument -- religious, cultural, scientific, etc -- while the religious have deleted the supreme importance of inquiry, accepted the guidance of myopia, and simply chosen to endure their brainwashing from childhood; 'Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war...' Any criticism of their religion is a free pass to everlasting fire in Hell!

I first took Rev Miller to task when, 10 years ago, he claimed that it was his powers which 'turned' Hurricane Ivan away from Jamaica. According to him, immediately after his prayers, when the hurricane was scheduled for a direct hit across the eastern parishes, the hurricane veered. His own explanation was: "Mark, what a coincidence that immediately upon my prayer, and those who joined me, a hurricane makes a 90° turn, baffling the minds of meteorologists."

I am a fanatic when it comes to the tracking of hurricanes, and I cannot remember a single meteorologist in 2004 anywhere in the world expressing scientific amaze-zment that he or she was 'baffled' by the slight change in the path of Ivan. As to him, claiming that the hurricane made a 90° turn, it probably means that the Rev Miller learned his fifth grade geometry in Sunday school or, the more likely scenario, as a clergyman, he is simply embellishing his argument to suit the results he has conjured up for his gullible population.

Had Ivan made a 90° turn on its approach to Jamaica, it would have headed out into open sea and, from that direction, into the meteorologically unlikely Central American stretch of land. Instead, Ivan moved west as a category 5 hurricane, and the eye skirted the south coast of Jamaica for a few hours. Let us not forget that those areas of the island were battered during that time and there was considerable damage to agriculture and loss of life.

After it left Jamaica it came within 30 miles of Grand Cayman as a category 5 hurricane and battered the tiny island. Ivan directly caused the death of 92 people in Grenada, Jamaica (17), Cayman Islands, Barbados, Tobago, Venezuela, and the US. So, what exactly did the prayers of Rev Miller do, apart from stoke his ego and bamboozle his flock. Were those who died in Jamaica 'sinners' who refused to pray?

Like all other prayers, the prayers of Rev Miller did absolutely nothing more than make those praying, and those who believe in divine magic, feel good in the 'certain knowledge' that they are in communion with God.

In the meantime, hurricanes feed off high-sea surface temperatures and, in that way, can be said to be following the path of least resistance.

In part two of his thesis, the Rev Miller does his best snake-oil salesman imitation when he challenges even his own religious insincerities by: "What a coincidence that immediately after I brought the reason of the drought and how to break it to the attention of the nation, then did what was necessary by and on behalf of the nation, we humbled ourselves with fasting and prayer, the rains -- that same week -- came and have not stopped yet."

Say what! Was he not presented with the perfect opportunity to make this prediction in his first piece? Since he was in direct communication with God, why was he not told about the rains so he could announce it in the first article? -- "I have spoken with God, my flock, and di Big Guy seh di rain gwine come bout next week. Just near to the time when the area enters the peak period of hurricane activity and heavy cloud formation."

Yawn.

Out of sympathy and due to the intellectual feebleness in his powers of reasoning I am almost afraid to challenge him on, "What is it that Mark is taking issue with? Is he upset with me for positing the law of 'cause and effect' and upending some other view he may hold? Does he equally get angry at Ralph Waldo Emerson for saying: 'Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.' Or, is he mad because I attribute the 'cause' to God speaking?"

Everything happens for a reason is the basic premise of that law. We know the very proximate cause of the drought. The very lack of rainfall, and even though there is a meteorological cyclicality about periods of drought and rainfall, scientific research has indicated a changing trend towards unpleasant climatic happenings.

I am not going to challenge Rev Miller on his belief in the fact of God. He is hard-wired for that and, as a senior pastor at Fellowship Tabernacle, his preaching menu is his bread and butter.

His God does not require him to be accountable, so he can preach to the gullible and sell them the aromatic oil holding the importance he has imposed upon himself. And then, of course, he quotes the religionists' favourite part of the Bible: "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." That barb was specially spiked for my very tough skin.

Well, Rev Miller, the fool has said in his heart there is no fool. So, what are you saying, Al?

observemark@gmail.com

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