Bill O'Reilly: Scientist
There's a site called News Hounds whose tagline is, "We watch FOX so you don't have to." Priceless.
Well, News Hounds has the transcript of a segment of The O'Reilly Factor in which O'Reilly confronts a biologist about whether creationism is science or not. Here's a real gem from the segment:
O’REILLY: OK. But science is incomplete in this area of creationism, is it
GRANT: Science is always incomplete in all areas.
O’REILLY: Well, I don’t agree with that. Science is not always
incomplete and I’ll give you an example. There are twenty-four hours in a day.
Alright. That’s science. And there are four seasons. That’s science. So you can
state things with certainty in biology or any other science you want. However,
if I’m a student in your class and you’re telling me, well, there might have
been a meteor or big bang or there might have been this or there might have been
that, I’m gonna raise my hand like the wise guy I am and say “Professor, might
there be a higher power that contributed to the fact that we’re all here?” and
you say - what?
Well, first off, science has nothing to do with there being twenty-four hours in a day. Humans decided to divide the day up into twenty-four units of time and call them "hours." The length of time that a day lasts, outside the issue of units, is also not a scientific theory (which is what Grant takes O'Reilly to mean by "science" and thus I will too, since O'Reilly fails to object). Scientific theories are explanations of observed facts. The length of time that it takes for the Earth to rotate 360 degrees on its axis, which humans have chosen to call "a day" is a fact. It isn't an explanation for anything, it just is. Explaining why the Earth rotates on its axis in the same amount of time each rotation would be a theory. Theories explain facts.
By the same token, it isn't "science" that there are four seasons. For one thing, the number of seasons is arbitrary. Humans defined it. You could say there are just two seasons, winter and summer, or you could say there are eight including the four normal ones and also pre-Autumn, post-Autumn, pre-Spring, and post-Spring, or however else you wanted. But, the changes in temperature and precipitation that accompany the Earth's orbit around the sun are not scientific theories. They are also facts. The explanatory theory is the laws of motion which explain why the Earth continues to orbit the sun rather than spinning off on its own or something.
So, O'Reilly clearly doesn't know what science is, and yet he goes on TV and acts like an expert.
But he's disingenuous at the outset. Science isn't "incomplete in the area of creationism," and Grant should have called O'Reilly on it. Since creationism does not meet the definition of a scientific theory, since it lacks explanatory power, makes no testable or observable predictions, and is inherently unfalsifiable, creationism isn't science, and so science cannot be "incomplete in the area of creationism." In fact, science has nothing to do with creationism. Saying that "science is incomplete in the area of creationism" is kind of like saying "ice cream is incomplete in the area of tax evasion." They have nothing to do with each other.
Now, evolutionary theory is incomplete, as all scientific theories are considered to be, since new data and observations could come to light that would cause scientists to rethink those theories. But scientists don't hold off on testing and using theories because of all the improbable things that theoretically could turn out to be true but for which there is not a shred of evidence, like creationism.
O’REILLY: But, what if it turns out there is a God and He did create the
universe and you die and then you figure that out? Aren’t you gonna feel bad
that you didn’t address that in your biology class?
No. Because evolution doesn't deal with the creation of the freakin' universe, you idiot! Evolutionary theory and biology are neither confirmed nor denied by the existence or lack thereof of a creator of the universe. Or of life, for that matter, since evolutionary theory doesn't deal with the origins of life, either. Abiogenesis, a separate field of inquiry, does that.
O’REILLY (overtalks all words): ‘Cause then it would be science, wouldn’t
it? You know, if tomorrow the deity came down and proved himself, then it would
be science, wouldn’t it, sir?
I disagree with Grant on this one too. If God or some deity came down and proved himself tomorrow, it would be a fact, not a scientific theory. It is always possible that there are facts not yet in evidence that would affect scientific theory as we know it. In fact, it is certain. But the fact of the existence of a creator, supreme being, God, or deity is utterly without evidence to support it. As such, we must discount the possibility of the existence of such beings until and unless some evidence comes to light. If we were to suspend judgment pending the sudden appearance of facts that no evidence indicates are likely to be found true, then we would be unable to learn anything. After all, you could say, "You know, if tomorrow Santa Claus came down and proved himself, then it would be science," or, "You know, if tomorrow McDonald's-hating bugs from Mars came down and proved themselves, they would be science." Sure. But none of those things is likely to happen, and, in fact, are unlikely enough that we can safely ignore them until and unless they do.
O'Reilly continues making a fool of himself for the rest of the interview, almost calling the story of Adam & Eve "nonsense" in front of his evangelical audience, and claiming that human cloning is not "science" according to a nonexistent theory he claims Grant has put forward.
How does O'Reilly manage to tie his shoes in the morning? This is the problem with modern society: It has eliminated most pressures of natural selection. If not for modern society, a result of modern technology provided by science, O'Reilly long ago would have been eaten by a lion or something because of his own stupidity.