To the Editor
Thank you for providing a forum for debate surrounding the selection of Dr. Ben Carson as Emory’s commencement speaker. The letter penned by several Biology department faculty disturbed me on many levels. I have spent several days considering its points and my response. I have long admired Dr. Carson, a brilliant physician and compassionate leader, with great faith in God. I was elated to discover he had been selected to speak to our graduates this May. It is a distinct honor, rightly earned by him. Born into dire poverty, he rose to become a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon through designing and performing such procedures as the first intrauterine surgery for fetal hydrocephaly, the first hemispherectomy, and the first separation of craniopagus twins (conjoined at the cranium). He is also a philanthropic leader, founding the “Carson Scholars Fund” which promotes children’s academic achievement, and serving on many boards of medical institutions, businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Through all his accomplishments, Dr. Carson submits to God’s authority because, as it is written, “through Him all things were made.” I share his Christian faith and find what Dr. Carson says and does to be consistent with scriptural teaching. I certainly do not attempt to speak for Dr Carson but, rather, hope to elucidate the tenets of our shared faith so that others may better understand. As Christians, we seek God through prayer and the study of Holy Scripture. If we allow, our sovereign God directs our lives so that we might grow closer to Him and bring Him glory. Science is not our religion. Science belongs to God. Thus, as we study science, we grow to know Him and the work of His hand. God reveals himself to us through the complexity and majesty of the world around us. Thus, understanding Him furthers our understanding of science (also Him.) Please understand that Dr. Carson’s view of creation is based on his faith in God and promotes, rather than denies, scientific inquiry. As a scientist, it is essential to remain open to questioning assumptions so that new discoveries can be made and errors corrected. When we squelch the voices of dissent simply because they are dissonant, we censure free speech and freedom of religion, all to the detriment of science and greater society.
He has never stated that, “those who accept the underlying principle of biology and medicine are unethical”, rather this is a misrepresentation (and perhaps a misunderstanding) of his belief in God. While I certainly respect the right of some of the biology faculty to express their disapproval of the selection of Dr. Carson for commencement speaker, I was compelled to counter with deep gratitude and support of this great leader to address our graduates. We certainly believe ourselves to be a university of discerning minds, each fully capable of determining whether what Dr. Carson says and how he lives is relevant and worth consideration. I look forward to the honor of hearing him address us all on May 14.
Sarah Edwards is a PhD student at the Laney Graduate School from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.