Field of Science

Ayala way up on his religious pedestal

Yeah so, Francisco Ayala got the Templeton Prize for conflating science and religion, but that's already old news.

But seriously, it is now awarded to someone who "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works". (Wikipedia.)

From 2001 to 2008 it read "Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities".

Before 2001: "Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion".

Ayala is an evolutionary biologist and also a former Dominican priest. So what insight does he have? What discoveries has he made? What practical works has he carried out?
Ayala unequivocally finds no contradiction between science and religion because “if properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters and each is essential to human understanding.”
So, by his own words his work in science cannot have informed him about anything spiritual.
Religion or faith determines the purpose, values and meaning of life.
That would mean that those without religion (or of the wrong one?) cannot understand the purpose of life, what the right values (morals) are, or what the meaning of life is, I suppose. Personally, being without religion and only spirits in the form of alcohol, I can say that even without religion I can determine the purpose, values and meaning of life just fine, thank you. And I know many like me can, too. Not a problem, Frrancisco. Ergo, religion is , at least, not the only determinant of those notions.
Professor Ayala was born in Madrid, Spain in 1934 and raised during the repressive Franco era. He was uniquely aware of the horrific slaughter of the innocents during the Spanish Civil War as depicted by Picasso in his monumental mural Guernica. Ayala refers to this masterpiece to explain the difference between science and religion. Science can assess the massive dimensions and pigment of the painting, but it takes religion (faith) to impart the horror bestowed on the peaceful village of Guernica in Basque country.
Whaaaaat? It takes religion to communicate how terrible bombing a village full of women and children is, now? Festivus for the rest of us?

Is it only me who finds it inconsistent when Ayala says that science and religion are sort of NOMA like, but TF practically says the opposite?

Lastly, let me chime in the those who have already objected to the NAS being part of this prize: The NAS is a scientific institution, and should not get involved with a foundation with seeks to conflate science and religion. Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, Larry Moran.


  1. "...but it takes religion (faith) to impart the horror bestowed on the peaceful village of Guernica in Basque country."

    Nope; it takes empathy. I guess that, from his viewpoint, the only real empathy is the empathy that (theortically) comes from religion.

    In my personal, anecdotal experience, the least empathic people I've met were religiously motivated to dismiss the troubles of their non-co-religionists (unless they were trolling for converts). Nothing quite like religion for convincing people that other people are, somehow, not really people.


  2. Yeah, I found that quote from Ayala completely baffling. Until he said the word "religion", I was more or less with him... Art appreciation is an area where science is not a particularly useful epistemology, and it's not even always best to approach things rationally -- so if one were making an argument against science have an epistemic monopoly, his example is reasonable.

    But whence religion? It doesn't make any sense...

  3. Ayala seems to express something that I get from many of my religious friends and family members: a conflation of morality and religious doctrine.

    As you said, they feel that only those with religion are capable of having the proper morals. This is certainly untrue, but it is simpler for them to draw the equation in their mind: unreligious = immoral.


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS