THIS ISN’T about a newly-published book, but as Martin Gardner explains, Ann Coulter’s Godless: The Church of Liberalism, is now coming out in paperback. That is the occasion for his review, which appears at the website of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Their About page says:
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry encourages the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and disseminates factual information about the results of such inquiries to the scientific community and the public. It also promotes science and scientific inquiry, critical thinking, science education, and the use of reason in examining important issues.
Some of the founding members of CSI include scientists, academics, and science writers such as Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Philip Klass, Paul Kurtz, Ray Hyman, James Randi, Martin Gardner, Sidney Hook, and others. A list of CSI fellows is published in every issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.
Now that you know where this appears, here are excerpts from Martin Gardner’s Ann Coulter Takes on Darwin, with bold supplied by us for emphasis. We’ll skip the portions discussing Coulter’s well-known hostility regarding liberals, and concentrate on her discussion of evolution.
In the last four chapters of Godless, Coulter suddenly morphs into a science writer. The chapters are blistering attacks on Darwinian evolution …
In brief, Coulter is a dedicated believer in intelligent design, or ID for short. Among promoters of ID, mathematician and Baptist William Dembski and Catholic Michael Behe are Coulter’s main heroes. Dembski, who has a degree in divinity from The Princeton Theological Seminary, was Coulter’s principal adviser on the last four chapters.
We interrupt to make a brief confession here. Until the publication of Godless, we used to be a fan of Ann Coulter. But no longer. Continuing with the review:
This is not the place to defend in detail what Coulter likes to call the “Darwinocranks.” … Let me focus instead on the transition from apelike mammals to humans. Coulter repeatedly accuses the Darwinocranks of being embarrassed by a lack of fossils that show transitional forms from one species to another. Such paucity is easily explained by the rarity of conditions for fossilization and by the fact that transitional forms can evolve rapidly. (By “rapidly” geologists mean tens of thousands of years.) Moreover, transitional fossils keep piling up as the search for them continues.
We’re skipping a digression about an old dispute between H.G. Wells and Hilaire Belloc.
Coulter is as silent as Mr. Belloc about Neanderthals and about the even earlier, more apelike skeletons. I doubt if they trouble her sleep; I doubt if anything troubles Coulter’s sleep. Does she think there was a slow, incremental transition from apelike creatures to Cro-Magnons and other humans? Or does she believe there was a first pair of humans?
Let’s assume there was a first pair. Does Coulter think God created Adam out of the dust of the earth, as Genesis describes, then fabricated Eve from one of Adam’s ribs? Or does she accept the fact that the first humans were the outcome of slow, small changes over many centuries? If the transition was sudden, then Adam and Eve were raised and suckled by a mother who was a soulless beast!
The review then wanders off into speculations about Coulter’s religion, which we find uninteresting, but you may think otherwise. If so, click over to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and read the entire review.