How'd the moon get there, Bill O'Reilly?
By: Cahir O'Doherty | Published Sunday, February 6, 2011, 12:50 PM | Updated Friday, September 9, 2011, 10:04 PM
How did the moon get there, demanded Bill O'Reilly this week.
It sounded like a song more than a question.
For the Irish O'Reilly's question recalled indelible lines in Sean O'Casey's play Juno and the Paycock: "Th' whole worl's in a terrible state o' chassis - what is the moon, what is the stars?"
O'Casey's play makes it clear the drunken Irish derelict asking the question doesn't know the answer.
O'Reilly's speech makes it clear the Irish American in the Brooks Brothers blazer does know the answer and he knows there can only be one: God.
3000 miles and a Chaminade High School education has resolved O'Reilly of all his doubts.
This surprising meditation had its origin last month when Bill O'Reilly dismissed atheism and the president of the American Atheists group Dave Silverman by claiming that the daily ebb and flow of the tides was evidence of the existence of God.
It was a conjecture that astounded even his supporters. After all, the reason why the tides ebb and flow has been settled by science for centuries. The gravitational pull of the moon was long ago observed to be the cause.
So when O'Reilly claimed that "nobody can explain the tides" he must have been speaking for himself (and possibly some of his viewers).
When he was roundly mocked for his apparent ignorance, O'Reilly changed the question by fuming:
"Okay, 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?"
It's disconcerting to see the anchor of a Fox News opinion show grow metaphysical. But he's asking interesting - although blatantly leading - questions.
It's an old shell game, this: O'Reilly is posing scientific questions but will only accept theological answers.
Here is a mind that has no time for - or patience with - science. Here's a mind that embraces fundamentalist principals. Because of that master satirist Stephen Colbert mocked him on his show this week without the following questions:
"How come I have two faucets? Hot comes out of one, cold comes out of the other, never a miscommunication? You can’t explain that."
Where does Bill O’Reilly come? He’s on my TV he’s off my TV then he’s back. Where’d he come from?"
"Sometimes he’s on my radio and I’m watching him on the TIVO at the same time. You can’t explain that. How come my TV thinks I want to watch Swamp Loggers? Nobody knows. Can’t explain that."
"And as long as nobody knows, the answer must be God."
If Bill O'Reilly is feeling anxious about the origin of our solar system there are people who can help relieve him. The question of how the sun got there has an entire scientific field of star formation devoted to it, in fact.
The Cliff Notes answer posits that a molecular gas cloud - many of which exist in our galaxy - collapsed under its own gravity, which was probably triggered by the explosion of a dying, massive star.
That gave rise to the Sun, along with a proto-planetary disk of gas and dust that collapsed to form the planets, comets, and asteroids.
The fact that in life there can be many complex answers to deceptively simple questions is something that fundamentalist natures like O'Reilly's can't accept.
It would be wise to bear that in mind the next time he tries to convince you he has all the answers.