book review

Godless: The Church of Liberalism

Ann Coulter
Crown Forum, 2006, 310 pages


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Ann Coulter: The Antichrist of Liberalism

The Church of Liberalism

Ann Coulter
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A n old Chinese saying says, "An extreme begets its opposite." Thus the mouths of Al Sharpton, Howard Dean, and Michael Moore have given birth to Ann Coulter, whose purpose in the universe is to re-establish the cosmic balance between Left and Right. She speaks for millions of Americans who are turned off by the excesses of what in this country are called "liberals", i.e. the political Left wing.

Ann Coulter has reviewed her own book already, which came out on 6/6/06, enshrining her forever as the antichrist of the liberal religion. Of course, the news media has made its own book reviews, demonizing her by focusing on some ill-considered word or phrase in the book--this time, it's her comments about four 9/11 widows--in order to have an excuse to ignore Ann Coulter's larger arguments. Despite the criticism, this is a hilarious and intelligent book that takes great enjoyment in creating liberal-kebab and deflating liberal myths (of which there seems to be an endless supply). Even though I don't agree with everything she says (particularly where she says on page 14 that professors make, and I quote, "a lot of money"), this is by far Ann Coulter's most well-written book to date.

Ann Coulter makes several important points:

Right from page one, Ann Coulter uses her laserlike wit to puncture the myths of the cultural Left. She characterizes former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop as "the gay Amish navy guy in the Village People." Discussing the liberals' worship of homosexuality, she says, "if people are born gay, why hasn't Darwinism weeded out people who don't reproduce? For that, we need a theory of the survival of the most fabulous. And if gays can't change, why do liberals think child molesters can?" We aren't even allowed to talk about this or any other of the liberals' sacred cows, such as gender inequality, Ann Coulter says, because liberals might turn violent. "They'd have me burned at the stake," she says, "if Cambridge weren't a `smoke-free zone'."

Two thirds of the way through the book, however, the book takes a 90-degree turn into a lengthy criticism of the theory of evolution. It seems clear that Ann Coulter has mixed feelings about science. On the one hand, she defends The Bell Curve, a well-researched but controversial book that summarized what biologists have learned about IQ. On the other, she takes the view that the theory of evolution is a "secularist creation myth" that is unproven pseudoscience. The arguments here are the familiar creationist stuff: eyes could never have evolved spontaneously, species were created by God in their final form, and so forth, along with the standard straw man creationist arguments against "Darwinism".

In these chapters, Ann Coulter is out of her depth, and like many creationists, her writing reveals a profound lack of understanding of the scientific method, scientists, and biology. Science is nothing like Ann Coulter imagines. Like some liberals, Ann Coulter imagines that science is just like politics: if science gives her a result that doesn't fit in her worldview, it means the scientists are biased and closed-minded, obsessed with pushing their political agenda.

It ain't so. Science is one of the few areas left where reason, logic, and evidence are still worshiped above all else. This is what gives science a level of credibility that is deeply envied by people like UFO aficionados, environmentalists, and many in the liberal arts.

With all due respect to Ann Coulter, the idea that evolution is flawed because it is unproved is preposterous. If you don't like evolution, you are free to propose a credible alternative that explains the evidence (preferably one that does not require a Deus ex machina to fill in all those pesky gaps). Or find some evidence that contradicts it. If you want to say that something is too complex to have formed naturally, you need to demonstrate why that is the case. Just making the assertion along with a bunch of bogus statistics won't convince many scientists. Stamping one's foot and calling scientists dirty names like "liberals" if they fail to be swayed by your articulate arguments will convince even fewer of them.

If I may rant for just a minute longer, it takes young scientists decades to learn the procedures, the proper use of statistics, and to learn what does and does not constitute a good scientific theory. Why do creationists think they can just propose a theory that may be riddled with mistakes and then cry foul when scientists don't accept it? Would they expect their first attempt at a symphony to be accepted into the concert repertory? If I wrote a new chapter for the Bible, should I be able to complain if it wasn't taught in church and included with all new Bibles? Creationism has a great many more flaws than evolution, as explained here. Creationism doesn't even make sense on theological grounds. Why would God use natural laws for some things and magic for others?

Science has proved conservatives right on some issues such as abortion, AIDS, and the existence of innate differences between the genders, and wrong on others. But to claim that "Darwinism" is some sinister political movement aimed at undermining traditional values makes creationists look as nutty as the conspiracy theorists who think President Bush caused the 2005 flooding of New Orleans in order to wipe out black people (we all know he did it to benefit Halliburton, of course).

Just because liberals believe in evolution doesn't mean evolution is wrong. We need to separate the message from the messenger. Adopting creationism would only marginalize conservatives, allow others to stigmatize them as uneducated Luddites, and drive scientists away from their movement. Both radical left-wing atheist groups and Ann Coulter (and some other conservative commentators like Bill O'Reilly at Fox) would like us to believe that secularism and Christianity cannot peacefully co-exist. But it's not true. And hey Ann, lay off the poor Druids!

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Created June 8, 2006; last updated Oct 16, 2006