The following from Bill O’Reilly distressed me.
“I’ll tell you why [religion’s] not a scam, in my opinion: tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication…It always comes in, and always goes out. You can’t explain that.”
Of course the tides can be explained. Google offers three million results for “what causes the tides.” The Earth and the moon revolve around a common center of gravity. Centrifugal force creates a bugle in the ocean that accounts for a high tide. On the opposite side of the Earth, the gravitational pull of the moon creates a second bulge , accounting for another high tide. As the Earth rotates on its axis each day these two bulges circle the earth creating two high tides a day.
O’Rreilly’s misplaced confidence & shoddy workmanship
My distress come not from O’Reilly’ not understanding the moon’s effect on the ocean. I am sure he does stand alone in that failing. What distresses me is that he took on it on faith that he had his understanding of the tides was complete–that he knew that the the tides were unexplained. Furthermore he was so sure, so willing to express this view on TV without first taking two minutes to research it or ask some productions assistant to check it out. That is a frightening amount of confidence about a subject he is clearly not familiar with.
When I first read about his comment I thought maybe it was an off-the-cuff remark that just came to him while taping. But the clip indicates he had plenty of opportunity to prepare. The topic of the segment was atheism and this point–the inexplicable tides–was his main argument for the existence of god. God should get a better pitchman.
To be fair, a few minutes before making his comment about the tides, O’Reilly warned the viewers by admitting he is not “the smartest guy in town.”