Defending Bill OReilly

(See here) where the Science Avenger takes radio and television talk show host Bill OReilly to task for a piece he wrote about his interview with well known atheist Richard Dawkins.

Now, I did not get the chance to view the interview with Richard Dawkins, nor did I get to read the original piece that the Science Avenger quotes from or attempts to link to (the link does not work); however I am still motivated to defend Bill OReilly because I respect him so much.

I also have heard some interviews with Richard Dawkins as he made the circuit attempting to publicize his most recent book The God Delusion. I witnessed one interview (I believe it was on National Public Radio) where Richard was treated most respectfully and given ample time to put forth his argument in favor of an atheistic point of view. My own opinion of Richard Dawkins? He is as unreasonably atheistic as many God Fearing Bible thumpers are with being unreasonably Bible thumpers!

Now let me explain my own point of view. I think it is entirely reasonable for a person to be an agnostic. In fact, for at least a portion of my life, thusly (agnostic) was how I chose to describe myself. I bought into the argument that while it is impossible to prove God exists, it is also impossible to prove God does not exist. That was until God proved to me that He (or is it a She?) does exist in a way that I would have to be delusional to not deal with the reality that there is a God. What was the proof? I won't go into that. Even if I explained in detail my "signs" that God exists, a devout atheist or even an agnostic would just say "Yeah right". I know that back when I was an agnostic, that this is how I would have viewed the testimonial I could offer up. I would have dismissed my own testimonial as either a fabrication or a delusion. My "signs" (notice plural) were for my own consumption only to prove to ME that God exists. I do not believe they were provided to me to convince others.

What about Bill OReilly? Is he unreasonably religious? Is the Science Avenger just as guilty of being a bigot in defense of his atheism as Bill OReilly is in defense of his belief in God? Again, I did not get to read the original OReilly piece (I am not about to subscribe to the Bill OReilly website Premium Membership package in order to do so) so have to limit myself to the Science Avengers quotations from Bill's piece.

The Science Avenger starts with:

Right out of the gate, O'Reilly departs from reality:

Atheism is chic, it's cool, it's the latest craze. The book stores are chock full of authors declaring that "God is Not Great," that God is a "Delusion," that you are a moron if you believe in the Deity.
He (Science Avenger) then includes, in his defense of the almost unreasonable publicity that atheists receive, the statement:
We are a minority that numbers anywhere from 3-30% of the American population, depending on how the question is asked. At one extreme, very few people are sure there are no gods, at the other, a sizeable minority hold no formal god belief.

I'll use his own words against him: "very few people are sure there are no gods". I think that these "very few people" are the only ones who would qualify to describe themselves as atheists. As for the "sizeable minority" who "hold no formal god belief" it is my opinion that this group is mostly comprised of agnostics. It is unfair for atheists to try to lay claim to the agnostic crowd as being included in as those who share their beliefs.

Here is another unreasonable statement the Science Avenger makes as he tries to make his point:
Notice there is no reference for BO's claim that atheist authors believe "you are a moron if you believe in the Deity". There's good reason for that: he made it up. We are quite capable of recognizing the intellect of those that believe. We just believe they are wrong.

OK Science Avenger, perhaps "moron" was a poor choice of words for Bill OReilly to use. He should have stuck to "delusional". Richard Dawkins uses the word "delusion" in the title of his most recent book and you use the word "delusion" in the title of your own piece criticizing Bill OReilly. I have heard Richard Dawkins speak as he publicizes his book. He is not, in my estimation, a "reasonable" atheist, his argument is that anyone who believes in God is delusional (or perhaps only a moron - grin).

Then comes this quote from Bill:
Believing in God is not very stylish in mainstream media circles these days.

The Science Avenger then launches into the demonstrations some football players display after they cross over into the endzone for a touchdown. What does this have to do with how the media DISCUSSES religious faith when the subject comes up? Or perhaps the Science Avenger thinks these religious displays by sports figures should be censored out from the broadcast?

The Science Avenger also states:
And did you see the powder puff treatment Ken Ham's creation museum got, even from the NY Times!

First off, I too have engaged in criticism of Ken Ham, (see here) where I engaged in such criticism of his preachings. However my own experience with how specifically the "Creation Museum" and the general subject of the creationism versus evolution debate is dealt with in the media is that it is dealt with in a manner that is not completely enlightening. Every time the subject comes up, the opposing viewpoints are represented by the extremes in the debate. I have yet to witness (other then on EWTN, the Roman Catholic radio network) the viewpoint represented that faith in God does not prevent belief in evolution! Even within the Evangelical community itself, there is some disagreement on just how valid the Genesis account of the creation of the universe is. There are nuanced opinions even within "Creationists". Ken Ham has engaged in criticism of Dr James Dobson for pointing out the discrepancy that if the account of creation contained in Genesis is accurate then God did not create the sun until the fourth "day" which begs the question of "How could there be a first, second or third "day" without any sunlight?"

I also wish to explore what Bill OReilly's own beliefs on the subject of evolution might be. I have never heard him go into the subject in any great detail, however Wikipedia gives a history of his education (see it here). Please note that Bill's childhood education and even his first years in college were experienced at Roman Catholic educational institutions. It is my understanding that most parochial, Roman Catholic schools teach religion in religion class and evolution in science class. Roman Catholics (or at least the Vatican) do not have a problem with accepting evolution as being fact.

I am going to skip over a few quotes of Bill's piece and the comments about them. However one quotation from Bill is worthy of note; Bill wrote:
"Jesus is a real guy," I said. "I know what he did. I'm not positive that Jesus is God, but I'm throwing in with him rather than throwing in with you guys, because you guys can't tell me how it all got here."

Now note just how reasonable Bill OReilly is being. He is pointing to how the preponderance of the evidence points that in fact, once on our planet trod a "man" named Jesus. It is from this same "man" that the religion called Christianity sprung. Bill OReilly is just not sure if this "man" was in fact "God". Bill OReilly is not timid with thus describing his own religious beliefs. As much as Science Avenger tries to paint Mr OReilly's broadcasts and statements of opinion as being attempts to "sing to the choir" (the "choir" being his supposed audience) such a belief would run counter to the belief's of the only audience that Science Avenger seems to think Bill OReilly has.

Science Avenger then opens up the closing of his piece with this one:
Then of course Bill trots out a creationist oldie but goodie:
But the atheists will never get it. The universe and the earth is so complex, so incredibly detailed, that to believe an accidental evolutionary occurrence could have exclusively led to the nature/mankind situation we have now, is some stretch of the imagination. I mean, call me crazy, but the sun always comes up, while man oversleeps all the time.

Science Avenger seems to have problems considering the fact that some of us that believe in God might also believe in evolution. That when we look at evolution, we see the "fingerprints of God".

Here are some of Science Avenger's closing remarks, specifically about the last quote I gave from Bill OReilly:
Uh, Bill, the sun one day isn't going to come up. It's got a finite life span. It might be billions of years, and that's a big big number, but it's not infinite, however much it may seem that way to you. Likewise, evolution is a very long, slow, bit by bit process, and that may be hard for you to grasp. It might seem like just one big accidental occurrence, but in fact, it is not very accidental at all. Selection is the opposite of chance. The unfit systematically, nonrandomly, die out. So no, it does not take much imagination at all.

So in my own closing, I ask this question: Who's the bigger bigot? Is it Bill OReilly or is it the Science Avenger? For anyone needing a refresher on the definition of "bigot" from Merriam-Webster:
a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

Seems to me Bill OReilly is less of a bigot when it comes to the subject of religion and evolution then is the Science Avenger. Bill OReilly's viewpoint seems to witness to actual willingness to consider "the other side" while the Science Avenger already has his mind made up and his statements witness to an unwillingness to any longer even consider an opposing viewpoint. Bill OReilly at least gave Richard Dawkins the opportunity to give voice to his own point of view.


Post a Comment

<< Home