The letter attributed to “Name withheld on request” (September–October) criticized your recent article on the faith life of University students (“Soul Searching,” July-August), congratulating himself or herself for being a “critical thinker” by rejecting religion and apparently suggesting that all University-educated people should do the same. I contend that college years should not be a time for students to reject faith in God, but rather a time to strengthen their faith.
As for faith-filled students “believing in things for which they have no evidence,” as the letter writer suggests, there is plenty of evidence for the existence of God. The fact that anything has come into being requires the existence of a First Cause. Furthermore, the order existing in the universe could not possibly have developed from random occurrences, but rather required an intellect. Faith is perfectly compatible with rational thought.
“Name withheld” further attacks religion for teaching “that it is a virtue to be satisfied with mystery and ignorance.” I think it is rather a sign of wisdom to acknowledge that there are things we do not—and perhaps should not—understand, and that there is a Being whose mind is far above our limited reasoning.
Marian Weiss Ziegler ’79
While the article “Soul Searching” (July-August) was a detailed account of religious practice and belief on campus, I would have been more impressed had you included coverage of the substantial atheist population at the University. Many students fully embrace reason over faith and tradition; and this more often than not leads to their growth into well-adjusted people, stronger students, and better contributors to the University community.
Jake Zucker ’08
Your obituary for Dr. J. Lowell Orbison (“Tribute,” September-October) summarized his enormous contributions to the School of Medicine and Dentistry and to the Medical Center very well, but it missed a very basic point about him. Dr. Orbison was never referred to as “James Orbison.” He went by “J. Lowell Orbison.” I don’t think any of us knew what the “J” stood for.
Dr. Orbison was an excellent teacher, and all of his students regarded him highly. He could seem distant, but that’s the way deans often must be. Together, he and the late Bill Van Huysen ’66M (Res), the associate dean for student affairs and vice chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department, and the late Sandy Meyerowitz ’54M (MD), ’58M (Res), the associate dean for medical education, made an excellent administrative team.
All in all, that was a marvelous era to be a medical student. I remember being taught by Wallace Fenn ’65 (Honorary), the former chair of the physiology department—whose equations are still used in pulmonary medicine—who had been recruited by founding dean George Whipple, who himself was still at the Medical Center. Drs. Paul Griner ’59M (MD) and Larry Young were forces in medicine; William Peck ’60M (MD), ’00 (Honorary), now at Washington University, was there; and Jim Bartlett ’57M (Res) was the CEO of the hospital. George Engel was teaching. These wonderful clinicians, along with many, many more, together made the medical school a very special place.
Daniel Fink ’74M (MD)
The caption for a photograph of the new University Health Service building in the September-October issue (“Building toward Better Health”) misidentified the student shown in the photo. The student is Patricia Morse ’10.
And the caption for the back cover photo failed to include the official title of the white coat ceremony held each fall for incoming medical students. The ceremony is the Dr. Robert L. and Lillian H. Brent White Coat Ceremony, named in honor of Robert Brent ’48, ’53M (MD), ’55M (PhD), ’88 (Honorary), and his wife, Lillian Hoffman Brent ’50.
We apologize for the errors.
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