Evolution--On Ann's New Book


I am no fan of Ann Coulter, just as I am no fan of any detractor. When one ceases to deal with issues and starts to deal with people in disrespectful ways, one ceases to command my attention. I haven't time for it.

However, this review has within it a provocative paragraph that may just go a ways toward supporting Ann's supposed hypothesis.

Rather, a lot of folks apparently like her ravings -- suggesting that, on some level at least, they must agree with her. And this means that the hundreds of thousands of Americans who put Coulter at the top of the best-seller lists see evolution as a national menace.

Well, that's hardly news. We've known for years that nearly half of all Americans believe in the Genesis account of creation, and only about 10 percent want evolution taught in public schools without mentioning ID or other forms of creationism. But it's worth taking up the cudgels once again, if only to show that, contrary to Coulter's claim, accepting Darwinism is not tantamount to endorsing immorality and genocide.

What I want to know is why anyone cares whether or not evolution is accepted as a theory outside of the scientific community. I am a staunch evolutionist (minus the philosophical trappings) and I could care less if all of St. Blogs were staunch young-Earthers. I would advise them to stay out of the fields of genetics, biology, and palaeontology, all of which have a certain necessity for the fundamental belief in the change of organisms through time. But so long as you are not a scientist practicing in one of these fields, why should I care about how you think the world came into being. It is utterly trivial and absolutely none of my business. And I like it that way.

I do not go about proselytizing evolution. I don't care who thinks it correct and who thinks it incorrect. What I do, and will continue to do is correct those who think they understand the matter at its base and then come of saying something like "ID is a better theory because." ID is merely a new smoke-and-mirrors philosophical construct built up around what is patently observable--organisms change through time. If people refuse to accept that empirical observation, I'm also fine with that--so long as they don't advance their opinions on scientific matters in ignorance of the facts. For example, if one wonders about the change of organisms through time, one must examine the cases of anti-biotic resistant bacteria and one must consider the case of ligers, and the many breeds of cats and dogs and horses. I don't want to belabor the point, but most people arguing for ID do so out of fear and plain ignorance of the facts of the matter. ID is not a scientific theory--it is a philosophical and religious construct that is no more subject to the rigors of the scientific method than is the neo-darwinist formulation of evolutionary theory. Both rely upon propositions that at base may be accepted or rejected but which ultimately can be neither proved nor demonstrated. It is no more probable that everything proceeds randomly than that everything is specifically designed and engineered to go the way it will.

In short, I don't care what any individual believes about how life came to its present diversity. It isn't my business, unless someone feels they must make it so, and I would prefer that it remain unknown to me. There are a good many evolutionists, myself among them, who at once hold to the essentials of evolutionary theory and to the complete teachings of the Catholic Church as understood outside of ultra-traditionalist circles. It is not beyond imagining, and it isn't really a problem for the faithful.

The problem is not evolution, nor its teaching, nor any number of other single attributes one might blame, but rather the whole societal synergy toward death. We live in the culture of death and this whole debate is about more of the same. It is a symptom rather than the disease, although, I suppose it gives some comfort to think that if only this evil thing could be rooted out condoms, pre-matital sex, abortion, and corrupt politicians would vanish at a single blow. It isn't going to happen--not by this mechanism at least. Those who think it will attribute far too much power to scientific discourse in the popular imagination of a fairly stringent anti-intellectual culture.

On a side note, this paragraph very aptly characterizes Ms. Coulter for me:

Coulter clearly knows better. I conclude that the trash-talking blonde bit is just a shtick (admittedly, a clever one) calculated to make her rich and famous. (Look at her website, where she whines regularly that she is not getting enough notice.) Her hyper-conservativism seems no more grounded than her faith. She has claimed that the Bible is her favorite book, she is rumored to go to church, and on the cover of Godless you see a cross dangling tantalizingly in her d├ęcolletage. But could anybody who absorbed the Sermon on the Mount write, as she does of Richard Dawkins, "I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell"? Well, I wouldn't want Coulter to roast (there's not much meat there anyway), but I wish she'd shut up and learn something about evolution.

One is left to wonder what the quotation taken out of context might mean. The charitable might consider that she is saying the notion of even so arrant a servant of the atheistic agenda as Dawkins burning in Hell is laughable; however, I don't think that my charity extends that far.

But I do agree with the first sentence. Ann manufactured for herself a certain celebrity in her abrasive brashness--she competes toe-to-toe with Al Franken, Molly Ivins, and Maureen Dowd, and I suppose there is some divine justice in leveling the sides in such a way.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 16, 2006 9:30 AM.

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