Recently Bill O’Reilly interviewed David Silverman, president of the American Atheists Association regarding a new billboard they’ve put up in Alabama which says of religion, “You Know They’re all Scams.” O’Reilly’s chief argument in defense of God’s existence? The tides. The tides? Yes, that’s right, the tides. O’Reilly: “Tide goes in, tide goes out, there’s never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.” I am a homeschooling parent and I actually used this particular clip as a teaching opportunity for my kids. After watching it together, we talked about the weakness of O’Reilly’s “God of the gaps” defense and contrasted this approach with the kinds of arguments we actually find in Acts and the Pauline epistles which focus on the historical resurrection of Christ, along with the fact that it was all done, “according to the scriptures” (Acts 2:22-32; 26:22-29, 1Cor 15:1-6).
During the interview David Silverman appeared to be so dumbfounded by O’Reilly’s weak argument that he failed to give a solid comeback. But I told my kids that what he should have said was that the gravitational pull of the moon on the ocean causes the tide to ebb and flow. Enter Stephen Colbert. On the Jan. 6th, 2011 episode of the Colbert Report, the faux conservative news anchor poked fun at O’Reilly by saying that “like all great theologies, Bill’s can be boiled down to one sentence: ‘There must be a God, because I don’t know how things work.’” Later, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson showed up to explain to Colbert that the tides are affected by the moon’s gravitational pull. The science lesson didn’t end up working for Colbert though. He ended up deciding that we should all become moon worshipers.