Though I’m fascinated by Bill O’Reilly and how he spins the news, I realized I’m just not obsessed enough to keep up a timely and regular commentary on his Talking Points Memo. Last Tuesday’s show included a swipe at social justice, plus an interview with an atheist in which O’Reilly engaged in some religious woo. There was lots to react to, but I had real work to do, and didn’t even watch for the rest of the week.Â All I had time for was to add Social Justice to my subheading. By the end of the week, I saw that Stephen Colbert had run a very funny piece on the religion/atheism debate, so I’ll link that below. Now the Zeitgeist is on to Arizona shootings, which has engaged me on a couple of discussion threads on Facebook.Â But it’s important to get back to O’Reilly’s woo. It’s very revealing.
The money quote is this… O’Reilly believes in a supernatural God because, “The sun comes up, the sun goes down. The tide comes in, the tide goes out. There’s never a miscommunication.” Given that supernaturalists tend to be really really confused by science, seculars get to indulge in some very sweet confirmation bias. So Colbert can say, “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.”
OK. But what’s really happening in that quote is O’Reilly’s attempt to shift to the sublime. “The world is so beautiful, there must be a God.” I felt that way for a long time, and I wouldn’t challenge that part of his sentiment. The question is, What kind of a God? It seems to me that the line, “There’s never a miscommunication” reveals quite a bit about his assumptions. Perfect communication would imply that his god is in absolute control of the world, determining outcomes, throwing lightning bolts, picking winners and losers in wars and boxing matches. And so on. It’s the rationale for intelligent design, intelligent falling, and and the supernaturalist version of American Exceptionalism. A god who can communicate perfectly can pick a prophet or a spokesperson to tell the world what that god wants… including which people to demonize and what wars to wage.
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