Wonder of wonders: “miracle” priest wasn’t an angel.

Recently a priest showed up at a car wreck, prayed, and then it was reported that he “vanished”.  It was hailed as a miracle and even reported as a miracle.  In a fit of deep sorrow spurred by the realization that people can be that desperate, I wrote of the “miracle” priest:

There was a priest at an accident.  The priest prayed, as priests are wont to do.  And then the priest left.  Are we really so lacking for a natural explanation to this that we must wonder if the priest was an angel in disguise?  I guess god didn’t think a better miracle would be stopping this car crash or any other car crash, even the ones where lifelong Christians died.  Nope, better to display his cosmic might by having a priest show up and pray.

Like an aging athlete, god just can’t do what he used to do, I guess.  No more rising from the dead, instead you get a priest at one car wreck out of thousands.  Hallelujah!

I wrote it because people don’t vanish.  It was obvious to anybody tethered to reality what happened: there was a wreck (one of many across the country on that day and every other day) and a priest happened to be nearby.  He went to the accident and prayed, because that’s what priests do, and then he got back in his car when the rescue workers showed up and left.  It’s about as mundane and earthly as you can get, but yet FSM-knows how many people were certain he was angel.

Well he’s not.  He’s Rev. Patrick Dowling, a flesh and blood human being who stopped, prayed, then got in his car and drove off – which is exactly what the conclusion should have been at the time.  But no, we have to go on a man hunt to find this guy, this guy who did nothing amazing or out of the ordinary, just to make sure he wasn’t an angel.

Will these countless miracle-hungry people learn their lesson?  Of course not.  Within days this will be forgotten (without so much as a “whoops”) and they’ll be declaring and accepting another miracle and wondering how anybody could question that this one is the genuine article.  And then they’ll act persecuted when we shake our heads at them and declare that religion is a safe haven for silliness, before congregating on Sunday to talk about how atheists are just miserable and jealous of their glorious religion.

Well we’re about as jealous of people who think a priest at one wreck out of several in a day is a miracle as we are of people who think the world is flat.  Like them you are not superior, you are not blessed, you are something to be pitied and you’re just unaware of it.  You’re the reason people like me want to see humanity free of religion.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • SansDeus

    What will actually happen is nobody will read the follow-up and still believe the guy is an angel.

  • Joven

    Ive been watching the iriff Rifftrax for Michael Landon’s cheesetastic tv show “Highway to Heaven” which depicts an angel who travels America performing miracles (ie, crying at people until they give in). And if that show is any indication of what angels do on earth, then randomly showing up someplace and praying or crying and then leaving is pretty much what God (ie, “the boss”) is all about, and would count as a miracle.

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Firefighter in the video: says the priest told people to calm down and that the tools would start to work.

    The priest: “I did not say anything like the machinery would begin to work or they would succeed in getting her out of the car.”

    So, as usual, eyewitnesses embellished a weird story to make it seem more magical. Voila! A “miracle” is born.

    • Joven

      Well, there you go, proof its a miracle. You see, God knows that many different people react to situations differently, and so created a perception filter around the priest so that people would hear/see what they wanted/needed.

      The fact that their accounts of the incident vary wildly from what “really” happened is thus evidence that a miracle actually occurred. SCIENCE!

  • EvolutionKills

    You see this? This is why we can’t have nice things. There is some serious making up of shit going on here.

    • Mackinz

      My Little Pony is a perfect example of a non-nice thing.

      • EvolutionKills

        Shun the non-believer! Shhhuuuuunnn!

      • Zinc Avenger

        Say that again and I’m gonna get all Friendship Is Magic on your ass.

  • Rebecca Hensler

    So ridiculous. And everyone seemed to ignore the part where the rescue workers, after trying for a while to get her out as her vital signs grew worse, made the risky (but, it turned out, correct) call of turning the car over right side up, in order to get her out. THAT was what made the difference. The priest helped keep her calm by praying with her. Everyone did their jobs and it worked out okay and she lived. Yay people!

    • David Ansell

      Not everyone ignored the efforts of the rescue workers. Here are some excerpts from a statement from Fr. Patrick Dowling, the priest at the scene.

      ” I was amazed at the calmness of the two Highway patrol men. The sergeant was completely in control, amazingly calm. Everybody worked as harmoniously as a Swiss watch despite the critical nature of the scene.”


      ” I think there may have been angels there too and, IN THIS CONTEXT, I congratulate the fire team from New London and Hannibal, the Sheriff/deputies of Ralls County, the Highway Patrol personnel, the helicopter team, the nurses and all who worked so professionally. God has blessed your work. I hope the credit goes where it is due.”

      Yes, he felt compelled to bring God into the equation, but who knows what he really believes? Sometimes it’s easy to forget that believers can have a degree of self honesty.

  • ThisIsTheEnd

    Priest in cars being mistaken for angels, aphid shit been hailed as miracles and yet America still manages to put a half a tonne robot on Mars

  • Emmet

    “Most likely the priest will be identified, and people will be able to thank him,” he [Fr Jim Martin] told The Huffington Post in an emailed message Thursday. “If he’s not found, that may mean he wants to remain anonymous. Could it have been an angel? There are similar ‘angelic’ stories in the lives of the saints, when a figure inexplicably appears and cannot be located afterwards. There are angels, of course, but we tend to ascribe to angels anonymous acts that we find incredibly loving — when in fact human beings do incredibly loving things in hidden ways every day.”

    Of course, Christians too were saying it wasn’t an angel from the beginning along with the skeptics. Really, it’s a beat-up.

  • baal

    “Wonder of wonders: “miracle” priest wasn’t an angel”<–
    Every single time a claim to the supernatural happens and gets investigate, turns out the event either didn't happen or that there was a perfectly natural explanation for it.