Smith’s Scientific Skepticism
By Roger D. Sloboda, Guest Columnist and Ira Allen Eastman Professor of Biological Sciences
Published on Monday, April 9, 2007
The quotes in the numbered list below are taken from an article published in a 1996 issue of Catholic World Report by Stephen Smith '88, a candidate for election to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees. In the article, Smith is reviewing a book by Phillip Johnson titled "Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education."
"The prevailing liberal or thodoxy would sooner teach students that the Earth is flat than it would teach them that God exists. Half-baked theories, after all, are harmless to an academic elite that cares little about truth."
"All by itself, and for no particular reason, amino acids, the so-called 'building blocks of life,' were formed. As luck would have it, these amino acids (DNA and RNA) joined together, in just the right order, to form single-celled organisms. These purposeless creatures existed only to nourish and reproduce themselves, much like the fraternity boys who plagued college administrators in a later era. In reproducing themselves, these simple organisms somehow - but certainly without any divine intervention - randomly developed, or evolved, into the full array of diverse and highly complex forms of animal and plant life that exists and has existed on Earth, including human beings."
"This is essentially the story we all learned in high school as unassailable, scientific fact. Everything that has ever existed evolved from a common ancestor: a material Adam and Eve that originated in the biotic slop. The moving force in evolution, according to classic Darwinism, is 'natural selection,' the process by which, over time, the genetically superior or "fittest" species (as measured by their success in surviving to produce offspring) become predominant and inferior species die out. It was this process that created life, not the miraculous acts of an omnipotent God."
"Science, therefore, has thus far failed to prove that the diversity of complex life forms that exists was or could have been created through Darwinistic evolution or any other random, purposeless process."
As a member of the faculty of the department of biological sciences at Dartmouth College, I find many of the comments made by Smith in this article not only scientifically incorrect but also personally offensive. Smith appears unsupportive of College faculty in general, unsupportive of science in particular and unsupportive of the theory of evolution, the linchpin of modern biology.
Smith is certainly entitled to his beliefs on any matter about which he chooses to write. Similarly, it is my firm belief that Smith will not serve Dartmouth well as a member of the Board of Trustees. I hope that Dartmouth alumni/ae reject his candidacy. Bringing to the Board of Trustees a mindset that views with disdain an entire field of legitimate, intellectual enquiry is not what membership on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees is all about.
Smith wrote the above about 10 years ago. One could always hope that his point of view has evolved over the ensuing decade.