Friday, August 11, 2006

Ann Coulter, looking for love or something like it

While I’ve written this week about my disappointment with religious blogs, I have found some interesting things on political blogs. In the past I’ve paid little attention to Ann Coulter, figuring she was just another right-wing mouth that would say anything that didn’t get her kicked out of her fraternity. She hasn’t minded losing jobs over what she says, but to be ostracized from her peers would be another matter.

I did notice when she was wearing that eye patch. Any woman with the nerve to face her public looking like a pirate is my kind of guy. I wasn’t listening to her words at that point, though.

Then there was something in the local paper this past year about her fighting with college hecklers. There was some rhetoric about who was really for free speech. Hey, I’m for free speech, but for some people I could see making sure they enjoyed their free speech somewhere else, like when the Nazis went to Skokie, Illinois. Maybe the hecklers had heard enough.

I became more interested when I heard about her becoming an expert against evolution in her latest book. What is that about? I had to look at her book in a bookstore to see. It was true. There she was, followed this tired style of picking out many supposed facts, as if the sum total of such arguments means evolution can only be this sordid atheistic conspiracy involving all of academia around the world, but winsomely she knows better. She did get some things right. She mentions the Cambrian explosion of species, which is a time of interestingly fast evolution. One can say the same about how quickly life recovered from several periods of mass extinctions. One can say the same about how evolution has been right there as the level of oxygen has grown in the atmosphere, constantly creating new species that could utilize the extra oxygen. Despite long periods of stable species, evolution can be rapid sometimes. How? It might all be natural selection, but scientists do wonder about what factors are involved with how fast this can proceed (relatively – it’s still a matter of millions of years). No doubt the coming knowledge that will cover everything in human genetics and therefore likely will reconstruct much about what happened in human evolution in molecular terms will clarify this.

In the meantime, so what? It remains crystal clear that life has changed over the history of the Earth, becoming more diverse, adapting to local conditions. That aspect of evolution is certainly fact. Exactly what sort of natural selection or even some supernatural selection was involved in that has some details yet to be described, but it amazes me just in my lifetime how much one can say now about specific genes changing over time. One can reconstruct the 300 million year history of the mammalian Y chromosome, how the sry gene that triggers a male pattern in many genes in utero came from a duplication of a gene that regulates development of a different body segment, with other genes coming and going over the years. One can talk about how non-mammals do all that differently. There are many such stories. There will be many, many more.

On the other hand is Genesis. Genesis 1: 11-25 is dead wrong about the order of creation of species, whenever that was. Flowering plants did not precede all animals. Not all sea creatures nor all birds preceded land creatures. Why is it anti-evolutionists nitpick so much about evolution, but then swallow Genesis whole as an alternative? Ah, that’s faith. Whether it’s true faith or false faith, it’s some kind of faith.

I like how comprehensive was in refuting Ms. Coulter’s book. That bit of sanity also made me realize what happened. Coulter did not go to the library to do research. Like so many celebrities, even political celebrities, she got help to do “her” book. William Dembski of the Discovery Institute, an advocate of intelligent design, takes responsibility for everything in that section, saying he deserves the flak she is getting about this, though he didn’t actually do the writing. How chivalrous.

OK, that explains how it is just like every other piece of anti-evolution propaganda I’ve seen, except for the barbs only Ann Coulter could insert here and there. Not that Coulter is mentioning the help she got at every opportunity. On The 700 Club last month, she spoke as if everything she knew about evolution was hers. Gordon Robertson even praised how she taught him some things.

Ah, I get it. It’s not just love of God and Bible that has Ann posturing this way. She wants more love than that. Some of the other criticism I’ve heard of her lately fits with that as well. It’s said she hammers the Libertarians ever since they turned down her offer to run for Congress on their ticket.

Heav'n has no rage like love to hatred turn'd
Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn'd.

William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, 1697

Yes, sounds like Ann Coulter to me. There’s also criticism that she speaks as if she is sexually active despite roaring against so many ungodly atheist liberals. Well, come on, we all follow God in our own way. We all look for love in our own way. It’s different if you look at people that way instead of their being controlling and mean-spirited, isn’t it?

Rush Limbaugh always has struck me as a man looking for love, with his pompous claim to excellence, with his provocative, yet predictable take on life, nothing to upset all of his dittoheads. Lots of people who became close friends with food and OxyContin are like that. Fans may be more fickle than either of those, but they’re legal and don’t make you fat. I’m sure a lot of right-wing commentators are following the same path. Left-wing commentators might be, too, but they seem more edgy to me, like Al Franken, Dr. Howard Dean. They may be looking for more iconoclasm than love, my kind of guys.

It’s always hard to tell someone’s innermost motivation from the outside. I’m sure Ann Coulter would claim to be motivated by something like truth, justice, and the American way. Well, what she put out is definitely not truth, meaning it’s not justice either. It is American. I’ll give her that. But maybe America will change. The truth of evolution will continue to become more detailed. It certainly is hopeless to fight that, unless it’s your friends in that fight that matter to you.

I won’t begrudge anyone making friends with the devil. If people knew anything of who God is, they would pick God over the devil. Since they pick the devil, they must not know what they are doing. Of course there is a part of me that would hit anyone over the head to tell them what they are doing. God says He understands this. God says that if He could, a fleet of His spaceships would circle the planet tonight and early tomorrow His spokesperson would be announcing surrender terms to the entire population of the world. Only God doesn’t have a fleet (not yet, He says in my ear). God doesn’t even have one spaceship. God isn’t even corporeal, never has been. He is one Spirit with many voices, but still only one Spirit.

So it takes time. In the meantime, what else is there but let people look for love as they will. One can fight it, but it’s easier just to recognize this is what so many people are doing in their insanity.

It’s like in one of the last Star Trek TNG episodes, where Picard is being tortured by a Cardassian who tells Picard a story about when this Cardassian was a child and had to fight to eat a measly egg. Picard thanked his tormentor for this image, as Picard could then see him as the abused child who grew up to be this controlling, vicious beast, letting Picard see the powerlessness that was underneath all of this insanity. It was this same episode where the Cardassian wanted Picard to see five lights when there were only four, just to inflict this little bit of mind control at the end, for the sake of coming away with some victory. The script lets Picard defiantly bellow the reality, that there are only four lights, as he is rescued. Yet when rescued, Picard admits that had his rescue been delayed, he would have seen anything he was told to see.

I know what he meant, but fortunately it’s not from my own real life that I know that. In my real life I know certain things to be true, no matter what Ann Coulter says. I know other things to be true, no matter what Al Franken says. They can both seek love from their audience with their flawed beliefs. I know what I know. That is an important part of my love, and so it is for God as well. At least the old man and I understand each other, whatever mental form He takes today.


Anonymous said...

Don't take this personally but it really sounds like you are a bit delusional. It sounds as if you speak to your invisible friend alot and he tells you things.

'If people knew anything of who God is, they would pick God over the devil. '

Of course, but since the devil is likely a personification of humanity plain and simple their isn't a real choice to be made.

I like alot of what you say but I worry about your mental state some.

DavidD said...

Why do you worry about how you perceive something you are in no position to understand?

Do you know what an invisible friend is? Are you sure? I don't think you have any way to evaluate that other than your prejudice, in me or in anyone else, including yourself. What mirror do you hold up to see such a thing? The neuroscience doesn't exist to say what any imagination is. We just have the subjective experience that we can try to picture something and some vague image will come to us or if we have a visual memory, we may imagine that more clearly. How we do that is a mystery. How images might come to us in ways that don't involve our will is also mysterious.

I don't pray to a vague image. It may be that everything I experience as supernatural is actually a natural process. If so that process is just as significant and mysterious as a supernatural God. It changes nothing to claim there is something trivial that explains spirituality. If the experience is all natural, it is certainly not trivial.

It may feel good for you to belittle my experience as you have, but you're just expressing ignorance. That's all. You could be more honest about your ignorance, but few people are, so I don't expect you to be different.

I am not delusional. I've been at this a long time, and I'm a good scientist, even if I have spiritual experiences. You have no idea what you don't know. That's true for Ann Coulter and human beings in general. It is human nature not to be cautious about that. Evolutionary psychologists explain how our brain is wired up this way, the same way we fill in the blind spots from our optic nerve so as not to notice that we have such blind spots. We do this cognitively as well. People believe whatever comes to them, as you do. It's natural. Only some people learn how wrong it is and to have an open mind, until there is a good reason not to. I hope you come closer to that someday.

In the meantime nothing you say has any wisdom at all.