Tag Archives: argument from tides

What about quests?

So Bill O'Reilly, cable TV blowhard hardly worth commenting on, has advanced the argumentum ad aestum (ex aesto?  ab aesto?–ideas anyone), or the argument from the tides, for the existence of God.  The thought goes something like this:

O'REILLY: I'll tell you why [religion's] not a scam, in my opinion: tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that.

SILVERMAN: Tide goes in, tide goes out?

O'REILLY: See, the water, the tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always comes in, and always goes out. You can't explain that.

You can explain it–moon, gravity, etc. (from the same link as above):

Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth.

Most places in the ocean usually experience two high tides and two low tides each day (semidiurnal tide), but some locations experience only one high and one low tide each day (diurnal tide). The times and amplitude of the tides at the coast are influenced by the alignment of the Sun and Moon, by the pattern of tides in the deep ocean (see figure 4) and by the shape of the coastline and near-shore bathymetry.

O'Reilly remains unconvinced.  He replies:

Okay, how did the Moon get there? How'd the Moon get there? Look, you pinheads who attacked me for this, you guys are just desperate. How'd the Moon get there? How'd the Sun get there? How'd it get there? Can you explain that to me? How come we have that and Mars doesn't have it? Venus doesn't have it. How come? Why not? How'd it get here?

Now now Bill, there's no reason to throw around the insults.  There's a perfectly adequate explanation for all of this.  Besides, the original argument had to do with the regular behavior of the tides (a sign, I'd say, of an obsessive-compulsive deity), not with the existence of objects. 

In all seriousness, O'Reilly displays an unfortunate characteristic of the cable TV blowhard (print pundit, etc.)–the near constant attempt to make the closing argument.  It's not just that his objectors are wrong (they're not); it's that the argument with them (pinheads) is over; they're "desparate," they have nothing to contribute.  A mind such as O'Reilly's, however, will never use the closer alone, he'll use it in conjunction with some variety of straw man or other fallacy.  Here I think he's changed the subject, and then accused the objector with not having an answer to his new argument (in their old argument).  I suppose this is a representational straw man, as that wasn't the point in the first place of the objector's argument. 

*For the title: watch this, the greatest review of any kind anywhere.