Sunday, June 25, 2006

Godless: A Review

Godless: The Church of Liberalism is the fifth book by Ann Coulter. It quickly topped the New York Times bestseller list, and generated a round of news stories about some "controversial" remarks contained therein. The news focused on Coulter's comments on victims as spokesmen. However, the book covers many aspects of liberalism. Beyond the particular topics, Godless advances the thesis that liberalism is really a religion--a Godless one.

The book covers the following topics, enumerated by chapter.
1. Multiple topics, including environmentalism and liberalism as a religion
2. Liberalism on crime
3. The Willie Horton case
4. Abortion
5. Victims as spokesmen
6. Public school teachers
7. Liberalism versus science
8. The "theory" of evolution
9. The "evidence" for evolution
10. The treatment of critics of evolution
11. The political consequences of evolution

Coulter's work is excellent, as usual. Her writing style is the mix of quick wit and bomb-throwing that has made her famous. This makes subjects that might otherwise be turgid easy to read about. As in her other books, she has a tendency to move quickly from fact to fact, and the larger point can get lost in the shuffle. Something is lost in analytical precision, but her style helps the reader to understand liberalism in a way that other authors' styles do not.

Several parts of Godless are particularly excellent. The chapter on the Willie Horton case is fascinating. It's still hard to believe that the Democrats nominated someone for President who thought that it was a good idea to let murderers serving life-without-parole out of prison on weekend furloughs. The chapter on crime should totally shatter the myth that liberals are tough on crime. It provides case-and-point evidence for what conservatives mean by judicial activism.

The true story of the Scopes Monkey Trial is spellbinding. Suffice to say, the truth is completely different from what you've heard. The entire four chapters on evolution are good. It's amazing to hear the "theory" of evolution and realize just how flimsy it actually is. Orthodoxy is only maintained by persecuting scientists who disagree, as Coulter documents. The political implications of Darwinism are particularly chilling. Coulter documents how Darwinism gave rise to Hitler and the eugenics movement.

I do have a few objections to various points in the book. One is her treatment of the Anti-Federalists. True, they opposed ratification of the Constitution, but for completely different reasons than today's liberals. Liberals today hate the Constitution because it restrains government power. The Anti-Federalists objected to the Constitution because it did not restrain government power enough. Their main points were that the Constitution should contain a Bill of Rights (which was later adopted), that it would lead to the federal government overrunning the state governments, and that the judiciary would become too powerful. Today, these points seem difficult to dispute.

Coulter also seems to endorse the "old Earth" chronology of intelligent design, rather than the "young Earth" chronology of creationism. This leads to some conceptual problems for her (and the entire ID movement) which she does not explore.

The overarching theme of the book is that liberalism is really a religion, as opposed to a rational belief system. Looking at liberalism as a religion is a useful analogy, to a point. Evolution is certainly a religious belief, not a scientific truth. Abortion really does seem like a sacrament for liberals. At other times the analogy seems forced, as when the spokes-victims are said to be emblematic of the doctrine of infallibility.

I wish that Coulter had explored the analogy in greater depth. Assuming that liberalism is a religion, what is its catechism? Coulter does a good job cataloguing many of the strange actions, statements, and beliefs of liberals. But this raises a deeper question. Where is all this nonsense coming from?

The most important sentence of the book is this one, from the first chapter.

"Everything that liberals believe is in elegant opposition to basic Biblical precepts."

Indeed it is, and this is the key to solving the puzzle. Once you realize the implications of this statement, everything falls into place. What previously seemed incomprehensible suddenly makes perfect sense.

Unfortunately, Coulter does not pursue this thought further. Still, she has come closer than any other author to discerning the true nature of liberalism. That, by itself, makes her book well worth purchasing and reading.

1 comment:

Gregor said...

The divide between the creationists and the rest of the non-evolutionists is an interesting one.
The aspect of liberal catechesis reflects one of Ann's biggest weaknesses: not drawing the effects she discusses back to their causes. Several authors have effectively laid a groundwork for an extra 50 pages or so for Ann to expound on this issue, but that's 50 pages that aren't in Godless....