Smith vs. Derbyshire On Human Exceptionalism

Robert L. Crowther, II

Discovery Institute senior fellow and nationally acclaimed bioethicist Wesley J Smith is having it out with NRO’s John Derbyshire over human exceptionalism.

We’ve blogged about Derbyshire in the past and disagree with his views on science and Darwinian evolution especially. Recently, Smith posted an insightful essay about some of Derbyshire’s latest rants against intelligent design at the First Things blog and noted:

What I think Derbyshire lost along with his faith is the realization that human beings are much more than the mere sum of our parts and functions. We, unlike any other species, have taken a bold step outside the Darwinian realm of genetic impulse, instinct, and reflex. We are moral and intellectual beings with the ability to create, civilize, project over time, and transcend.

According to Smith, Derbyshire responded with intellectual dishonesty. As Smith writes today on his Secondhand Smoke blog:

John Derbyshire has responded in The Corner to my First Things blog entry chastising him for rejecting human exceptionalism along with his faith. He has every right to do so, of course. But he doesn’t have the right to mischaracterize my arguments. He claims I grant humans a special place because we are “chosen and gifted by God.” I never wrote any such thing–ever. My position is entirely secularly based. Read my piece and Derbyshire’s disengenuous [sic] response and you will see that I am right.

You can continue to follow the debate over at Secondhand Smoke. And next Tuesday you can tune in and listen to Wesley’s brand new podcast, Brave New Bioethics. You can subscribe at the podcast homepage,
Click here to learn more about Discovery’s Bioethics program.

Robert Crowther

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.