Tide Goes In, Tide Goes Out… March 25, 2011

Tide Goes In, Tide Goes Out…

Remember when American Atheists President Dave Silverman appeared on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss an atheist billboard…? The most memorable part of the interview was this exchange (at the 1:51 mark):

O’Reilly: I’ll tell you why [religion’s] not a scam. In my opinion, all right? Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can explain why the tide goes in…

Silverman: Tide goes in, tide goes out…?

O’Reilly: Yeah, see, the water — the tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always goes in…

Silverman: Maybe it’s Thor up on Mount Olympus who’s making the tides go in and out…

O’Reilly: No no, but you can’t explain that… you can’t explain it…

American Atheists is now trying to make the most of that memorable exchange. A new promotional video captures atheists and Internet dwellers repeating the phrase with all the respect it deserves — none. Just because Bill O’Reilly doesn’t understand how tides work doesn’t mean others don’t, too. The phenomenon is pretty well-understood.

(Be sure to catch Richard Dawkins around the 0:48 mark):




Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Inferno

    So does this mean that Bill O’Reilly is admitting that the tsunami happened because of God?

  • Adam

    Of course he is. It’s God’s punishment for Pearl Harbor. Duh.

  • Ha! Tide goes in, stain comes out.

  • P. Coyle

    If Mr. O’Reilly hadn’t been absent from 6th grade science class on the wrong day, he would have known that the tides are caused by the moon goddess and the sun god.

  • Xiquivo

    Ummm, last time I checked, science knew perfectly well why the tides come in and out.

    Do people actually listen to this guy or do they just think if he’s shouting he must know what he’s talking about?

  • Richard P.

    Well I think Bill needs to explain the miscommunication that took place when the tsunami hit. seems to me there was a hell of a miscommunication between god and Gaia that day.

    So Bill, how do you explain that?

  • NotYou007

    The black dude with the afro pick gave me a good laugh. “Bad example”

    I thought it was a great example.

  • Carrie

    Why would anyone even bother to go on O’Reilly’s show? He didn’t let him answer a single question. I shouldn’t have watched. Now I’m just in a crappy mood from watching him cut off Silverman every time he got five words out of his mouth. His ignorance is infuriating.

  • Kevin S.

    Even if we didn’t know what caused the tides, or if he had picked a phenomenon that actually hasn’t been explained yet, there’s a pretty damn long history of religious reasoning given for events that couldn’t be explained at the time, only for us to eventually figure them out.

  • Jim [Different Jim]

    I knwo, I know!! It’s the Sun god and the Moon goddess doing the wild thing on a water bed and it’s sloshing about!

    Do I get a prize?

  • captsam

    I wouldn’t be surprised if O’Reilly wasn’t a poe laughing all the way to the bank.

  • JB Tait

    I wish there could be a thumbs up or Like button for Newbs’ comment.

    And I have had the same suspicion as captsam for a long time.

  • Heidi

    I think captsam and JB must be right. I mean, TIDES? Seriously? Little kids can explain that, Bill.

  • Rebecca

    “Ha! Tide goes in, stain comes out. Newbs” That was good! Thanks for the belly laugh. I needed that! haahaaahaa

  • JrzyGirl

    What’s just as good is the “Can’t explain that” meme that cropped up immediately following O’Reilly’s splendid display of profound ignorance – if you Google the phrase, you’ll find more than one site celebrating the phenomenon. 🙂

  • Pureone

    I don’t know which sounds sillier though, the Tides in/out or Sun “up”/down”. Bill must be still using the Geocentric Model…

    Of course, the “speed” of the Earth’s rotation is not a constant. it may/does increase or decrease, so I would call that a “miscommunication”….

  • Pureone

    Oh, I noticed that Bill is fond of calling people “pinheads”. “Pinhead” is a derogatory term for someone with Microcephaly, which then through that use became a synonym for ignorant, slow, a dunce. It is exactly the same as calling someone a “retard” or “mongoloid”- Pardon my used of these terms, I only am trying to make a point- which is he is using a rude, ignorant and offensive term. He would never dream of using those other two terms I mentioned, so why would the equivalent be acceptable?

  • Aguz

    Surfer goes in, shark goes out.

  • Chicagodutch

    What I don’t understand is why nobody with Foxnews corrects O’Reilly when he makes his incorrect statement about tides. Science does not understand everything, but high and low tide is not in that category.
    Like somebody said a fifth grader knows the answer.

  • sliperslap

    Take into account O’Reilly’s “show me a billboard attacking atheists” comment.

    Probably the premier example.

  • Richard Wade

    Regarding Bill O’Reilly:

    Air goes in, bullshit comes out. Never a communication. You can’t explain that.

    If it’s a fact, according to you, that there is no god, I’d have to be a moron to believe in a god! I’d have to be stupid!

    Well, waddaya know, he did explain it.

    This is so good. First, he says that because he doesn’t know what a third grader knows, that’s proof of god, then in the next breath after showing himself to be stupid, he says that because he’s not stupid, there must be a god.

  • Ninjapino
  • CNR

    Sorry folks, I think this is a poor argument to take a stand on. Why as atheists would we pick this low hanging fruit?

    Clearly, the rhetorical question O’Reilly is asking is why the laws of the universe are what they are. He’s not asking “how” the tides work, but “why” they work how the do. He just used a poorly worded phrase to convey his question.

    I see an athiest meme appearing on the internet bashing O’Reilly over this exchange. The better approach would have been to take that point and speak to the larger question.

    I mean, don’t you find it annoying when someone attacks you over something you said where you initially used poor word choice to make your argument. I would rather have someone engage me on the point I am trying to make rather than the one that may have come from a few misspoken words.

    I think this makes atheists look bad when there was a real opportunity to have a decent “teachable moment”.

  • Except that Bill O’Reilly is not teachable. As was pointed out on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, this wasn’t even close to the first time he has used this argument. He REALLY THINKS it’s a good argument.

  • Pureone

    @CNR- Actually- it’s not the ‘Why” either. It’s the “WHO”. Bill asks “how” but responds with a “who”.

    This is a perfect chance to show everyone a great example of the “argument from Ignorance”-

  • Sarah

    “Tide goes in, tide goes out” is a lot like every other ‘scientific’ argument for religion. “You can’t explain why this happens, so it must be because my god did it.”

    However, I think a lot of what Dave Silverman said was pretty stupid too. He’s claiming that churches are full of closet atheists without presenting any evidence for that opinion, and presenting “all religion is a scam” as a statement of fact is pushing it. I do think that organized religion is constantly scamming its followers, but I think that the majority of leaders in the church genuinely believe what they are teaching. I think the time and energy would be better spent getting people to question their beliefs rather than alienating them by saying “you know this is bullshit and you believe it anyway”. I do think the billboard is insulting to religious people, and I don’t think it’s going to accomplish much of anything.

  • CNR

    Agree with Sarah….

    Again, what I think this all comes down to is whether or not its worthwhile to engage in these skirmishes with the likes of O’Reilly who, as MikeTheInfidel correctly states, is not teachable.

    I am not sure it is. The reality based community would do much better to claim the high ground and do just what Sarah said, not work to insult peoples beliefs, but get them to question them.

    I am a former “born again” type. I can tell you that “back in the day” insults did nothing but bind me tighter to that community. It was only my own journey of questioning my own beliefs that brought to my current understanding of reality.

  • Pureone

    Right- Ok- Two things, both of with are paraphrases of what Dave S has said:

    1. They are not “going after” those who they know will only cling tighter to belief. those billboards are for those who are on the edge, already sorta in that zone of “I don’t know what I believe”.

    2. there are other groups/billboards that are less antagonistic/offensive. The more antagonistic make the less antagonistic more palatable.

    And as Dawkins has said, and with which I agree, why are we afraid of offending religion? Why must we use kid gloves and delicately handle it? It’s equally as insulting as saying that non-scientific beleifs such as woo are nonsense, in other words, not really, but we’ve been conditioned to give religion a different kind of treatment.

  • Carl

    Bad video and I can’t say it was very enjoyable either. Being a member I think they could of done a much better job.

  • Jacob

    Bread goes in, Toast comes out. You can’t explain that.

  • GodIsntRealJustLikeThisEmail

    Tide goes in tide comes out IT’S BECAUSE IF TE MOON AND THE SUN YOU FREAKING MORON and no not every body who goes to church thinks it is a scam the think it’s freaking real and even when they are presented with the evidence and pure FACTS they won’t believe it because of two reasons 1) humans are hardwired to protect in what they believe in and 2) many people will not except that their God is fake because they have been praying to them your whole life