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Ann Coulter: The Wedge for the Masses

Having been a sounding board for Ann Coulter on chapters 8-10 of GODLESS, I’m happy to see the entire book now that it is out. Ann is taking Phillip Johnson’s message as developed in DARWIN ON TRIAL and REASON IN THE BALANCE and bringing it home to the masses. Critics will dismiss it for its hyperbole, lack of nuance, and in-your-face attitude. But she has the gist just right, which is that materialism (she calls it liberalism) dominates our culture despite being held by only a minority of the populace and has become an agenda among our elites (academy, scientists, media) for total worldview reprogramming. Close to half the book is devoted to science and evolution. I cannot help but feel that GODLESS will propel our issues in the public consciousness like nothing to date. Phil Johnson’s DARWIN ON TRIAL took ten years to sell 300,000 copies. I expect Ann will sell more than that in ten weeks.

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35 Responses to Ann Coulter: The Wedge for the Masses

  1. And my copy will be among them :)

  2. Have William and Dave found their Joan of Arc??
    :)

  3. #1 book at Amazon.com yesterday, and #2 today.

  4. I can’t see her book doing anything good for ID. I don’t want Coulter to speak for me as an ID supporter anymore than I’d wanter Falwell or Robertson to speak for me as a Christian.

  5. Dodgingcars: You need to take a larger view of this debate. I went on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to get our ideas out to a new audience (which did in fact happen) even though I find much about the show repulsive. I personally am much more sympathetic to Ann Coulter than you are, but even if one is ill-disposed toward her, one must realize that she will reach a whole new sector of the public with our ideas.

  6. Dr. Dembski, I saw you on the Jon Stewart show! That was so touching, and yet so typical. You were the only earnest one there with anything meaningful to say, and you could barely get a word in edgewise.

    The problem I have with your support of Ann Coulter-type rhetoric is that it is so this-worldly. You think you have to “win” a worldly battle with materialism, when you should be well aware that a firmer hand than man’s is needed for this fight. Also, whenever honor and integrity are dispensed with in the pursuit of a goal, that goal itself is demeaned.

    On the sidebar of this site is a product for sale with the logo “mind preceded matter”. I have a little secret for you. Mind continues to precede matter, on a moment to moment basis. What we experience manifest materially is but a precipitation from out of the realm of mind (or soul, spirit, whatever). If we put into the content of our collective mental realm things which are, in their essence, false, dishonest, exaggerated, loose and fast, then we will in turn experience a material and intellectual culture which becomes increasingly cheap, superficial, hateful and polarized. Only the blinding light of materialism could convince one that the end (the defeat of materialism) justifies the means (raunch and hyperbolic dishonesty).

    Tinabrewer: I’m a great believer in divine concurrence, where the divine and the base work in tandem to achieve the divine purposes. Moreover, I regard the rhetorical enterprise as unconstrained by Marquess of Queensberry Rules — sometimes one needs to put a bit of pepper on the gloves, a feat Coulter accomplishes nicely. –WmAD

  7. WB,

    Fair enough. I respected your decision to go on the Daily Show. I thought it was wise to bring ID to the audience of Jon Stewart — many who probably aren’t sympathetic to ID.

    I wonder though, if someone as controversial as Coulter helps or hurts the ID cause though. I don’t take her seriously, just like many people don’t take someone like Michael Moore seriously… And yes, I consider them in the same vain — just on opposite sides. If Moore came out with a book defending Neo Darwinism, I doubt you’d see many change their opinions.

    But I do agree that there are fans of Coulter who aren’t ID supported who may be persuaded, which I certainly see as a good thing.

  8. The 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the death of God. At the turn of the 21st century we are witnessing the death of Godlessness. It’s all rather exciting.

  9. For those who are Christians, and find Coulter to be an unfit messenger for ID ideas, I quote St. Paul:

    Phillipians 1:15-18(a) “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (NIV)

  10. My point in #9, is of course, not to equate Christianity and ID, but to suggest that getting one’s message out is sometimes more important than waiting for the perfect messenger.

  11. I’ve read the first four or five chapters of the book. Absolutely outstanding and devastating. Coulter has a first class mind, and is known as a bomb-thrower due to her columns and television appearances, but I’ve always found her books to be entirely reasonable, with the rhetorical barbs thrown in when the target has been shown to be utterly deserving through clean, logical, evidence-based argument and citation of recorded words and actions, as well as facts established in court proceedings. If you lift a barb out of its context, she sounds like a ranter. In context, the barbs are a perfectly legitimate response to the demented positions that she deconstructs. She’s one of the best and most influential conservative authors out there, by far. There are a lot of conservative readers who have yet to hear much specific about ID, and she is going to reach a whole new set of people with these ideas. I look forward to getting to the anti-materialist chapters…

  12. russ,

    Good point. Yet I still remain cautious. :)

  13. >Only the blinding light of materialism could convince one that the end (the defeat of >materialism) justifies the means (raunch and hyperbolic dishonesty).

    I don’t know whether the quoted remark is meant to be applied to Ann Coulter, so forgive me If I’ve misunderstood….

    I’ve read every last one of Ann Coulter’s books, including *Godless*, and none can be fairly described as raunchy / dishonest. Hyperbolic, yes. Coulter’s hyperbole is “intelligently designed!” Furthermore, while she can fairly be called a polemicist, and while she can be criticized because she doesn’t use the language of political correctness, it cannot fairly be said that she’s dishonest. Ann’s facts are in order….

    Ann devotes several chapters of *Godless* to demolishing Darwinism, and she makes her case in a way that even those who haven’t an iota of interest in the subject matter will read, enjoy, and understand. I think Dr. Dembski’s absolutely, positively right: Coulter’s book will reach an audience that’s largely unaware of Darwinism’s dirty little secrets.

    I for one find it awfully hard to condemn a person who’s staunchly defending the now endangered traditions and values that made this country “the shining city on a hill.”

    Clare Wilson Parr

  14. >The problem I have with your support of Ann Coulter-type rhetoric is that it is so this->worldly. You think you have to “win” a worldly battle with materialism, when you should >be well aware that a firmer hand than man’s is needed for this fight.

    And the problem I have with your problem is that the battle with materialism IS this-worldly. This is man’s battle to fight. God helps those who help themselves.

    >If we put into the content of our collective mental realm things which are, in their >essence, false, dishonest, exaggerated, loose and fast, then we will in turn experience >a material and intellectual culture which becomes increasingly cheap, superficial, >hateful and polarized.

    As if the American “material and intellectual culture” isn’t cheap, superficial, hateful, and polarized?

    I can think of many, many people I’d accuse of cheapening, trivializing, fomenting hate, and polarizing American culture, but Ann Coulter’s certainly not one of them.

    Clare Wilson Parr

  15. I am new to this site and am not going to pretend to understand the ‘worldly” vs. “unwordly” disctinction that is being made in these comments or its relevance to a supposedly scientific argument.

    I can speak as someone who got here via Ann Coulter and “Godless”. I have not seriously considered the ID arguments in the past, because I associate it with Creationism, which is a religous fairy tale, not science. Coulter’s book did get me to question my views of evolution and I now want to take a closer look at the Evolution vs. ID theory as a result.

    That said, I do think I am more likely to be the exception rather that the rule. Coulter devotes 4 chapters at the end of the book to this argument. It is the best four chapters in the book. To get to those chapter you have to wade through the first seven chapters, which are overflowing with vitriolic ad hominem attacks on Democrats, Liberals, 9-11 Widows, Public schools, teachers, Professors, and journalists among others.

    My guess, is the only readers who will make through that fetid swamp to the ID chapters at the end, are the true believers – the choir she is already preaching to – specifically Christian Creationists. For all I know, that may be what this site is all about.

    FWIW, thats my read. My review of Godless is here:

    http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/

  16. Hey DWSUWF, welcome to Uncommondescent!

    “Coulter’s book did get me to question my views of evolution and I now want to take a closer look at the Evolution vs. ID theory as a result.”

    That’s what we would like everyone to do, take a closer look, at NeoDarwinian Evolution and at what ID really says. You can be pretty sure that most of what you have heard so far is not close to the truth about either.

    Judge Jones said that ID might be TRUE, but that it is not science. We think science is supposed to find out what is true. Our cry is “follow the evidence where it leads”.

  17. I heartily agree Coulter’s satirical dissection of the ‘darwiniacs’ [darwinites] will popularly expose the
    Establishment Religion Creation Myth for the unscientific shell that it is. I laughed for three chapters.

  18. turandot: “As if the American ‘material and intellectual culture’ isn’t cheap, superficial, hateful and polarized” Thanks for making my point even more clear. I was trying to say this exactly without spelling it out. People have lost the ability to just sit down and take seriously the “other side” in a debate. Everything is degenerating, in the public sphere, into emotionally-charged vitriol. I was just expressing the opinion that whenever someone contributes to this, it does harm. As DWSUWF points out in comment 15, the new book is filled with ad hominem attacks, and a generally “fetid swamp” of ugliness. I understand that many people are of the opinion that this is an acceptable form of discourse, and I certainly agree that it will “work” in the narrow sense that it will gain attention. I just disagree that gaining attention is a worthy goal AT ANY COST.

    I also agree that God helps those who help themselves. Where I disagree is in the tactics used to “win” a battle. The triumph over materialism is an inner battle. It involves the personal struggle to overcome “the world” in all of its luring forms: money, sex, a craving for power, influence. In other words, the cleansing of the inner being in the knowledge of the laws of the Creator. If people did THIS most difficult work, they wouldn’t need to worry about who was taking over society. The society would be uplifted quite naturally. It is much easier to yell and scream and fight, and above all to point out the faults of your enemy. I challenge one single Christian who posts here to point to a quotation from christ (please, please not Paul) in which Christ instructs his followers to scream, fight, accuse and persecute their enemies. That would be real helpful for me…

  19. DWSUWF,

    There are many here who are not creationists in the sense they hold Genesis as the literal basis for the creation story. I have no idea of the percentage that do. I certainly do not but am a Christian and believe there are many others like myself. The moderator, Dave Scott, says he is agnostic. People like David Berlinski, one of the most popular anti-Darwinist writers, also says he has no specific religious beliefs and two of the main defenders of ID at the Discover Institute are Catholics (Michael Behe and Bruce Chapman) which does not necessarily accept Genesis as literal.

    I prefer not to have religion involved with any discussion of evolution. Once it is brought up, it often interferes with the science being discussed. However, there are several people here who are only interested in the philosophical/religious aspects of Intelligent Design.

  20. Tina,

    I am not an expert of the gospels but here are verses from Matthew

    “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

    I think there are additional verses.

  21. Coulter’s book did get me to question my views of evolution and I now want to take a closer look at the Evolution vs. ID theory as a result.

    ID is not anti-evolution. Even Creationism isn’t anti-evolution.

  22. Tina, as a Christian, I could not do what Ann Coulter does. She’s very hard on her opponents and it’s hard to reconcile that with the Christian commandment to love one’s enemies.

    But someone might point to the following words of Christ in defense of her writing style:

    “Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In that way YOU also, outwardly indeed, appear righteous to men, but inside YOU are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:23-28)

    44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

    There are other passages like these. Christ was harder on religious hypocrites than he was on run-of-the-mill sinners, presumably because the former brought discredit to the name of God and lead many people astray in a way that thieves, cheaters and the sexually immoral did not. Perhaps one could argue that Liberal/Materialist Elites are in the same position as the Pharisees whom Jesus attacked. They lead many astray by abusing their authority so as to confuses and mislead those who would seek a right relationship to God.

  23. Russ –

    True, we are to love our enemies – but that doesn’t mean that we don’t fight them. Coulter tweaks her opponents (hilariously, usually) and sometimes goes a bit too far (certainly farther than I would). But she only seems so outrageous because this country is been so bathed in political correctness for so long that someone who simply stands up and speaks their mind is looked upon with horror. Compare Coulter to someone like H.L. Mencken (let alone the incredible heated rhetoric of the early republic – it wasn’t all “The Federelist Papers”) and she seems the model of civility.

    That said, I have mixed feelings about her taking up the ID standard. Her chapters on ID are excellent – she gives a clearer and simpler exposition of Dempski, Behe, et al. than the authors themselves (no offense to our host). But she is a polarizing figure, and her advocacy will make it that much more difficult to present the science behind ID to a neutral-to-left leaning audience without them thinking it’s all part of some theocratic plot. But I have reluctantly started to accept the fact that this is not about science (there is no science, really, behind Darwinism) – it is about two fundamentally different worldviews, which cannot in the end be reconciled. The other side plays to win – they will fight tooth and nail to prevent any deviation from atheistic materialism. We need to fight back accordingly.

  24. To dodging cars re #7: Sincere and farily intelligent people once took Michael Moore seriously. Roger and Me was a movie widely believed to be true. Ross Perot ran on an anti-globalization platform and got Bill Clinton elected in 1992.

    Moore has had an impact.

    Of course, today, only the true-believers accept Moore, but that has less to do with his technique than, that a lot of what he was he says and has said has been shown to be lies. This discovery has been disseminated to enough people to make him marginalized.

    If Ann C, is found to be lying she too will be marginalized. If, however, her facts can’t be challenged the manner in which she communicates them will only matter to the degree to which she makes people listen, and that she is obviously doing well.

  25. Idnet.com.au,
    Thanks for the welcome.

    Jerry,
    Thanks for the orientation. I got a sense of the board just reading through this thread. Quite a mix. The association I reference in my post is a result of mostly running into literal creationists when engaged in a conversation of this nature. To lay my cards on the table, I consider myself a Jew, but of the minimally observant variety. I think of Genesis as an allegory and not literal truth, and I think that is the general view of Judaism (although I make no claims of authority in that regard and could be wrong about that).

    The way I see it, is that Genesis was our story for the last 4,000 years, and we are pretty comfortable with it as allegory, and (from your comments) the Catholics, who have claimed it as part of their story for the last 2,000 years, are also now comfortable with it as allegory, so that just leaves the Protestants. Now the Protestants have only claimed it as part of their story for the last 500 years or so, so it is perfectly understandable if they don’t quite have it right yet. Give them another 1,000 years to figure it out.

    Mung,
    I appreciate that creationism and evolution are not mutually exclusive, in the same sense that religion and science are not mutually exclusive. However, to the degree that believing something requires faith, or invoking a 4,000 year old allegory, to that degree it is not science and should not be called science and should not be taught as science.

    To state the obvious, and probably covering ground that has been well trodden on this board: Proving that the Darwinian Theory of Evolution is false, or – more accurately – inadequate to explain the evidence, does not make the ID Theory true or even more likely. It may just mean that the Evolution Theory has to be modified. That is a normal occurence for theories of all kinds in the history of science. Coulter’s book does a good job of making the case that Evolution has real problems explaining the evidence. That’s it. As I said, it has peaked my curiostiy and I would like to learn more about it, and the first thing I’ll look for is a rebuttal to the Coulter piece.

  26. “If you lift a barb out of its context, she sounds like a ranter. In context, the barbs are a perfectly legitimate response to the demented positions that she deconstructs.”

    I offer you, gentle reader, a selection of Anne Coulter “barbs” all out of context, all from just one chapter of her book (chapter 5), and invite you to imagine the context that makes them “perfectly legitimate”.

    *************************************************************
    “… all Democratic spokesmen these days are sobbing, hysterical women.” – Page 101
    “One wonders how exposing anything about Cindy could discredit her more than the poor imbecile’s own words have. – page 102
    “…Cindy Sheehan, with that weird disconnect between the viciousness of her comments and her itsy-bitsy, squeaky voice.” – page 103
    “These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation …” page 103
    “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arrazzis, I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands death so much. The increasingly rabid widows …” page 103
    “… the Democrats were able to ensure a whitewash of Clintons’ utter incompetence, cowardice, and capitulation to enemy regimes …” page 104
    “Mostly the witches of East Brunsweick wanted George Bush to apologize for not being Bill Clinton. Like Monica Lewinsky before here, Breitweiser found impeached president Clinton “very forthcoming”.” – page 112
    “Out of love for his country and an insatiable desire to have some-one notice his worthless existence, Wilson wrote a column …” – page 115
    “He had been sent by his wife , Valerie Plame, a chair-warmer at the CIA who apparently wanted to get him out of the house.” – page 118
    “For the really insane stuff you have to go to bush-league newspapers where reporters have all the venom of the big-city newspapers, combined with retard level IQs.” – page 119
    “… the only provable conclusion of which is that Joe Wilson is a nut and a liar.” page 119
    “… How does a publisher react to some pompous jerk who wants to call his book The Politics of Truth? – page 151
    “The Democratic Party’s became Cindy Sheehan, loon.” – page 128
    “The only sort of authority Cindy Sheehan has is the uncanny ability to demonstrate, by example, what body types should avoid wearing shorts in public.” – page 128
    “Despite having a screwball for a mother, Casey Sheehan was a great American …” page 150
    “There is no plausible explanation for the Democrats’ behavior other than that they long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated and driven from the field of battle. They fill the airwaves with treason… These people are not only traitors, they are gutless traitors.” page 135
    “… as long as Democrats are going to be jock sniffers for war veteran’s, let’s at least be equal about it.” – page 137
    “I have a right to call Democrats blowhards, moral cowards, and traitors… they are liars and cowards and traitors.” – page 141
    “Perhaps liberals will claim Moore is a “covert” agent with the CIA, – assuming a big, sweaty, behemoth like Michael Moore could actually be concealed…” – page 143

    ******************************************************************

    Methinks that is going to take a LOT of context packed into a little 47 page chapter.

    Quite an advocate you’ve got there.

    Which of these do you imagine need context to be legitimate? -ds

  27. … But she has the gist just right, which is that materialism (she calls it liberalism) dominates our culture …

    Materialism is philosophical.

    Liberalism is political.

    Hence the problem with Anne Coulter as a spokesperson.

    Does Coulter actually mention ID somewhere? The only thing she appears to be spokesperson for is anti-Darwinism. -ds

  28. U.S. News & Weekly Report Whispers Poll

    How would you react to conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s new attack on 9/11 widows as self-obsessed and enjoying their husband’s deaths?

    • Slap her as vicious, just like Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton did — 24%

    • Applaud her bold claim — 65%

    • Arrange a boycott of her new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism — 10%

    Note: This is not a scientific poll and does not test a representative population sample. The poll continuously recalculates its response percentages as the number of participants increases.

  29. Time Magazine Online Poll
    http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101050425/

    Does Ann Coulter make a positive contribution to American political culture?

    Total Votes Cast: 4919870

    Yes 15.1%
    No 84.8%
    Don’t Know .1%

    NOTE: This is an unscientific, informal survey for the interest and enjoyment of TIME.com users and may not be indicative of popular opinion.

    Online surveys are worthless. They’re easily gamed and the respondents aren’t representative of the public. You included the disclaimer but evidently didn’t understand it. Either that or you’re just being argumentative and employing speciousness to do it. -ds

  30. DWSUWF,

    You have to have your head in the sand if you don’t understand that liberalism in politics doesn’t flow from a philosophical basis. People with differrent philosophical views drift to certain political groups to express these views and also to help with the enactment of these views. Guess who has drifted towards the Democratic party and thus has changed its political message over the years.

  31. DWSUWF,

    Since you are using parts of your review of Ann Coulter on your website here, maybe you should correct something in that review. Namely, that she was right about no Democratic candidate except Jimmy Carter with 50.1% of the vote has gotten a majority of the votes cast since 1964. Since that time Nixon (72), Regan (80.84), Bush (88), Bush (2004) have received majorities of the votes casts.

  32. Jerry,
    Got your comment on the blog, and agree I have to make a correction. Just want to look up all the numbers and get it right. Probably get to it tonight, as in the meantime I am having more fun here.

    DS,
    My specious on-line poll reference was in response to turandot’s specious on-line poll reference, which I note you did not feel needed any editorial comment. Wonder why?

    Wonder no longer. Coulter’s Godless is the top seller in non-fiction this week according to Nielsen’s and is #3 in all categories. Given her well established popularity the poll Turandot quoted, while not reliable, is probably reasonably accurate. The one you quoted was not. You seem to have a chip on your shoulder. If so take it somewhere else. -ds

  33. DWSUWF,

    If you want to check on vote counts I found a very good site for presidential elections results. It is http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/ and at the top are menus for several years for both presiidential years and mid terms for some other offiices. It has results by state and county information too.

  34. Gildodgen wrote:

    The 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the death of God. At the turn of the 21st century we are witnessing the death of Godlessness. It’s all rather exciting.

    I’m afraid that this hopeful assertion is terribly contradicted by recent studies, (ARIS) which rather conclusively showed that the number of people who went from any religion to no religion increased by 23% over the years studied.

    In their words, the researchers note:

    The top three “gainers” in America’s vast religious market place appear to be Evangelical Christians, those describing themselves as Non-Denominational Christians and those who profess no religion. Looking at patterns of religious change from this perspective, the evidence points as much to the rejection of faith as to the seeking of faith among American adults. Indeed, among those who previously had no religion, just 5% report current identification with one or another of the major religions.

    The raw number of “no religion” folks swamps the Evangelicals by about 30-fold and non-denoms by about 14-fold. In numerical form, the “no religion” switch from some prior religion increased by approx. 6.6 million persons, and those “switching out” were approx. 1.1 million persons = approx. 5.5 million net deconverts.

    Do the math on this, and you’ll see that no other category even comes close. Not one. The next highest number of net converts is 1.4 million for “Christian” and then 600,000 for “Pentecostal”. So, you may want to start checking the data before baldly asserting that “godlessness” is somehow waning. On the contrary, friend, it is waxing full.

    You’re misinterpreting the results. The number of people self-reporting as atheists, agnostics, humanists, and secular together total less than 1% of the population. Those are the godless and its a piddling small group that doesn’t appear to be growing at all, although we can’t tell since (mysteriously and suspiciously) there is no number in the atheist category for 1990. -ds

  35. Dave,

    You said:

    The number of people self-reporting as atheists, agnostics, humanists, and secular together total less than 1% of the population.

    Where did this come from?

    See this data, which implies that you are quite off on your estimates, as most sociologists agree a minimum of 7% of Americans are either agnostic or atheist. A great number of those who answer “Christian” are obviously nominal in their faith. And there is data available for 1990, it just wasn’t displayed in the study. Lots of data out there.

    When you consider the stigma against atheists, it certainly isn’t surprising that a lot of people aren’t “open” and are “closeted” atheists. But who cares? The study proves my point — that those who claim godlessness is on the wane are not supported by evidence.

    You have yet to refute that.

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