Godless: The Church of Liberalism
|June 7, 2006|
|LC Class||JC574.2.U6 C667 2006b|
Godless: The Church of Liberalism is a book by best-selling author and conservative columnist Ann Coulter, published in 2006. The book is an argument against American liberalism, which Coulter regards as so anti-scientific and faith-based that it amounts to a "primitive religion" which she claims has "its own cosmology, its own explanation for why we are here, its own gods, and its own clergy." Coulter asserts that "the basic tenet of liberalism is that nature is god and men are monkeys."
Coulter argues that liberalism rejects the idea of God and reviles people of faith, yet bears all the attributes of a religion itself. Coulter argues that the tenets of the liberal "church" are:
- Creation myths (the theory of evolution)
- Sacraments - Coulter compares abortion to "virgin sacrifice"
- Holy Writ (Roe v. Wade)
- Martyrs (from Alger Hiss to Mumia Abu-Jamal)
- Clergy (public school teachers)
- Place of worship (government schools, where Coulter claims that prayer is prohibited but condoms are free)
- Doctrine of infallibility (as manifest in the "absolute moral authority" of spokespeople from Cindy Sheehan to Max Cleland)
- Cosmology (The Big Bang Theory, by which Coulter concludes that mankind is an inconsequential accident)
The 9/11 "Jersey Girls"
These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them. ... I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much ... the Democrat ratpack gals endorsed John Kerry for president ... cutting campaign commercials... how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy.
These statements received national attention after an interview on The Today Show, and were widely criticized. Coulter refused to apologize, and responded, "I feel sorry for all the widows of 9/11...[but] I do not believe that sanctifies their political message....They have attacked Bush, they have attacked Condoleezza Rice, they're cutting campaign commercials for Kerry. But we can't respond because their husbands died . . . I think it's one of the ugliest things 'the left' has done...this idea that you need some sort of personal authenticity in order to make a political point..."
The book begins with a quotation from the Bible: "They exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creation rather than the creator.... Therefore, God gave them up to passions of dishonor, for their females exchanged the natural use for that which is contrary to nature. — Romans 1:25-26".
Coulter also says in a footnote, "Throughout this book, I often refer to Christians and Christianity because I am a Christian and I have a fairly good idea of what they believe, but the term is intended to include anyone who subscribes to the Bible of the God of Abraham, including Jews and others."
Echoing the author's contention is this passage from Norman Podhoretz's book, Why Are Jews Liberals?
- To most American Jews, then, liberalism is not, as has often been said, merely a necessary component of Jewishness: it is the very essence of being a Jew. Nor is it a ‘substitute for religion’: it is a religion in its own right, complete with its own catechism and its own dogmas and, Tertullian-like, obdurately resistant to facts that undermine its claims and promises.
Science and intelligent design
Coulter, citing various critics of evolution and proponents of intelligent design, devotes approximately one-third of the book to attacks on evolution, which Coulter terms "Darwinism." Coulter turned to leading intelligent design proponents for tutors in writing this section of the book: "I couldn't have written about evolution without the generous tutoring of Michael Behe, David Berlinski, and William Dembski…" Behe, Dembski and Berlinski are all fellows of the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement, which Coulter endorses in the book. Chapter 8, "The Creation Myth: On the Sixth Day, God Created Fruit Flies", advances the book's thesis that liberalism is a religion, this time by attempting to show what she argues is its cosmogony. The chapter begins:
Liberals' creation myth is Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which is about one notch above Scientology in scientific rigor. It's a make-believe story, based on a theory that is a tautology, with no proof in the scientist's laboratory or the fossil record—and that's after 150 years of very determined looking. We wouldn't still be talking about it but for the fact that liberals think evolution disproves God.
Later in the chapter, she presents a parody—the "Giant Raccoon's Flatulence Theory"—to illustrate what she sees as fallacious arguments of those who espouse the theory of evolution. The "theory" states:
Imagine a giant raccoon passed gas and perhaps the resulting gas might have created the vast variety of life we see on Earth. And if you don't accept the giant raccoon flatulence theory for the origin of life, you must be a fundamentalist Christian nut who believes the Earth is flat.
The imagine, perhaps and might (italicized by Coulter in the book) refer to what she believes is the speculative, mythical, 'made-up-story' nature of the modern evolutionary synthesis theory that species evolved through mutation and non-random selection. Chapter 9, entitled Proof for How the Walkman Evolved into the iPOD by Random Mutation, begins
Darwiniacs do not have a single observable example of one species evolving into another by the Darwinian mechanism of variation and selection. All they have is a story. It is a story that inspires fanatical devotion from the cult simply because their story excludes a creator. They have seized upon something that looks like progress from primitive life forms to more complex life forms and invented a story to explain how the various categories of animals originated. But animal sequences do not prove that the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection caused the similarities. It is just as likely that the similarities are proof of intelligent design, creationism, or the Giant Raccoon's Flatulence theory. The animal-sequence drawings allegedly demonstrating evolution by showing, for example, a little runt horse gradually becoming a grand stallion, are just that: drawings.
To back her opinion, Coulter refers to examples of evolution used in long-standing evolutionary arguments against creationism, but also to examples that were later shown to be misinterpreted, or hoaxes. She presents the Galápagos finches, the peppered moth, Piltdown man, Archaeoraptor, Haeckel's drawings, and the Miller–Urey experiment, as flawed, discredited, or made-up evidence and stating arguments to support her case. While portraying evolution theory as a "religion", Coulter portrays intelligent design as legitimate "science":
Nor are intelligent design scientists looking at things they can't explain: Quite the opposite. They are looking at things they can explain but which Darwin didn't even know about, like the internal mechanism of the cell, and saying, That wasn't created by natural selection—that required high-tech engineering. By contrast, the evolution cult members look at things they can't explain and say, We can't explain it, but the one thing we do know is that there is no intelligence in the universe. It must have been random chance, or it's not 'science'.
Coulter's reliance on intelligent design and creationist sources for science, has prompted some critics of the intelligent design movement to analyze her claims. P. Z. Myers, countering Coulter's claim that there is no evidence for the theory of evolution, points to the scientific literature that contains hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of articles about various aspects of evolution. He also argues that Coulter has it backwards: The issue is not whether there is evidence that supports evolution theory, but whether there is evidence that is explained by evolution theory, since theories are explanations for data. In response to Coulter's citing of Jonathan Wells' arguments concerning peppered moth evolution, Ian Musgrave argues that Coulter misrepresents the significance of the peppered moth experiments, makes a number of factual errors, and a "wildly ignorant misrepresentation of evolution." James Downard criticized Coulter's favoring of secondary sources over primary sources, saying "she compulsively reads inaccurate antievolutionary sources and accepts them on account of their reinforcement of what she wants to be true."
Media Matters for America responded to Coulter's "strawman" arguments against evolution by noting 11 types of "distortions" in her writing and going into detail explaining why her claims are false and contrary to science. A satirical account of Coulter's take on evolution was written by probabilist Peter Olofsson, whose tongue-in-cheek argument was that Coulter had in fact written a veiled criticism of the intelligent design movement, much like Alan Sokal did to the postmodern movement in his famous hoax.
Intelligent design and public education
Coulter argues that intelligent design proponents' challenges to the theory of evolution are immediately disqualified as being based on religious beliefs. For example:
- The world's largest general scientific society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, representing 262 affiliated societies and academies of science and 10 million individuals, has said that "although advocates of Intelligent Design usually avoid mentioning a specific creator, the concept is in fact religious, not scientific" and that efforts to teach "the controversy" are flawed as "there is no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution. The current controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution is not a scientific one."
- The ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District found that intelligent design is not science but is essentially religious in nature.
Coulter claims this is evidence of a "liberal-left" conspiracy to create generations of atheists taught through the public school system. Coulter also asserts that students in the public school system should have the opportunity to debate evolution versus intelligent design in a classroom setting.
Allegations of plagiarism
John Barrie, creator of iParadigms, LLC's plagiarism-detection software, found in the book three instances of what he claims to be plagiarism. The Rawstory website claims that she used text taken from the Illinois Right to Life website, making only slight changes for the book. The TPM Muckracker website provided a "complete" list of examples of alleged plagiarism discovered so far in all of Coulter's works. Coulter's publisher Crown Publishing Group has since characterized the charges as being "as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible."
- "Ann Coulter’s "Godless" Makes the Liberals’ Heads Spin With Obfuscation!". Retrieved January 13, 2011.
- Coulter, Ann (June 6, 2006). Godless: The Church of Liberalism. New York City: Crown Forum. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
- Christine Grimaldi (July 16, 2006). "Writer's claims disturb families of 9/11 victims". North Brunswick Sentinel. Retrieved November 10, 2006.
- "Ann Coulter attacks 9/11 widows". CBS News. June 7, 2006. Retrieved July 10, 2006.
- Lathem, Niles; Algar, Selim. "Give-'em-hill Fury vs. Coulter." New York Post. June 8, 2006. Retrieved on July 10, 2006. Archived July 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Staff Writer. "9-11 commish lashes Coulter." WorldNetDaily. June 9, 2006. Retrieved on July 10, 2006.
- Elliot, Philip. "9/11 Commissioner criticizes Coulter." ABC News. June 9, 2006. Retrieved on July 10, 2006. Archived February 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Ann Coulter Fires Back at Critics". Fox News. June 8, 2006. Retrieved December 4, 2007.
- From the NewsMax.com staff, "NBC News Slanders Ann Coulter." Newsmax, Thursday, June 8, 2006.
- Taranto, James (June 9, 2006). "The Coulter Kerfuffle". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
- Coulter, Ann, Godless: The Church of Liberalism. From the book jacket: I couldn't have written about evolution without the generous tutoring of Michael Behe, David Berlinski, and William Dembski, all of whom are fabulous at translating complex ideas, unlike liberal arts types, who constantly force me to the dictionary to relearn the meaning of quotidian."
- CSC - Center for Science and Culture
- Ann Coulter: No evidence for evolution? PZ Myers. Pharyngula, scienceblogs.com June 18, 2006
- Ann Coulter: Clueless Ian Musgrave. The Panda's Thumb, June 18, 2006
- Secondary Addiction: Ann Coulter on Evolution Part I Part II Part III James Downard. TalkReason, June 2006.
- Ann Coulter's "Flatulent Raccoon Theory" Media Matters for America Jul 7, 2006
- The Coulter Hoax: How Ann Coulter Exposed the Intelligent Design Movement. Peter Olofsson, Skeptical Inquirer, 2007
- AAAS Statement on the Teaching of Evolution American Association for the Advancement of Science. February 16, 2006 (PDF file)
- Copycatty Coulter Pilfers Prose: Pro Philip Recchia. The New York Post, July 2, 2006 Archived July 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- In new book, Coulter 'cribs' stem cell list from right-to-life group Ron Brynaert, June 14, 2006
- List of Coulter Plagiarism Allegations Justin Rood, July 7, 2006
- "Syndicator denies Coulter lifted material." Sun Herald. July 10, 2006. Retrieved on July 11, 2006. Archived July 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.