Coyne on Coulter

Jerry Coyne has a piece in TNR Online on Coulter. Unfortunately, it's subscription only, but (see below) here is a highlight:

The real reason Coulter goes after evolution is not because it's wrong, but because she doesn't like it--it doesn't accord with how she thinks the world should be. That's because she feels, along with many Americans, that "Darwin's theory overturned every aspect of Biblical morality." What's so sad--not so much for Coulter as for Americans as a whole--is that this idea is simply wrong. Darwinism, after all, is just a body of thought about the origin and change of biological diversity, not a handbook of ethics. (I just consulted my copy of The Origin of Species, and I swear that there's nothing in there about abortion or eugenics, much less about shtupping one's secretary.)

If Coulter were right, evolutionists would be the most beastly people on earth, not to be trusted in the vicinity of a goat. But I've been around biologists all of my adult life, and I can tell you that they're a lot more civil than, say, Coulter. It's a simple fact that you don't need the Bible--or even religion--to be moral. Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews, who don't follow the New Testament, usually behave responsibly despite this problem; and atheists and agnostics derive morality from non-biblical philosophy.

Update: Coyne's piece is available here (registration required).

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I wonder if the absence of Muslims in "Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews, who don't follow the New Testament" is deliberate!

Probably it's because he knows that Islam believes Jesus was a prophet (one of many), unlike the other relgions he mentioned which don't make much if anything of him.

I just think it's scary how many people actually seem to believe that only fear of hellfire keeps anybody in line.

When you go to the page, it says, "This article requires free registration." When you register, it says, "This article is for subscribers only." Is that the ultimate in bait-and-switch, or what?

By Kevin W. Parker (not verified) on 31 Jul 2006 #permalink

Humm. I didn't notice that as I didn't need to register. Anyone else have the same problem?

By John Lynch (not verified) on 31 Jul 2006 #permalink

Biology and ToE are not a "body of thought", they are a Science, and the only currently working scientific theory currently explaining all known living things (and fossils of dead ones too).
Zen Buddhism would be a "body of thoughts" (no offense intended to buddhists).

Just my $0.02 (CAN).

I can't get to it either (I follow the 'already registered' link and get the 'subscriber's only' page) and I have an earlier registration but not a subscription.

Isn't it something like 0.2% of the Prison Population that's Atheistic?

I was able to get to the full article this AM and just tried it again this afternoon. Went right through, and I don't think I have a free registration cookie on this particular computer.

Great article. Well reasoned and just a little bit snarky -- but not too much.

If you want to see truly low crime rates, you need to look at Japan, arguably the least religious nation on earth. There are some other factors, such as an amazing homogeneity, but clearly the lack or religiosity does not CAUSE people to run amok and pillage.

By Carey Allen (not verified) on 01 Aug 2006 #permalink