Field of Science

Ayala donates $10 million to science

Francisco Ayala is donating $10 million to the School of Biological Sciences at UC Irvine - money earned from his vineyard. The Templeton Prize money he earned last year was donated to UCI as well ($1.5M).

Read the accompanying interview about his work and about accommodating religion and evolution:
Q. Is there a tendency in our society to mix up religion and evolution?

A. I am afraid largely so. I think it is wonderful to teach the Bible, but not to pretend the Bible is an introductory textbook for biology or astronomy.

We succeed in keeping these kinds of things out of the schools, but then the impact on the public at large is not as good as you would expect to have. In the last few weeks, two or three of the Republican presidential candidates have expressed skepticism about evolution. And yet, evolution is confirmed as much as any scientific theory, and better than most. Evolution is confirmed as well as (the idea that) the Earth goes around the sun, or that matter consists of atoms.

It's a matter of scientific ignorance. It's a matter of religious ignorance; as you surely know, most religious authorities, most
churches, are in favor of evolution. As, famously, an Anglican minister -- a theologian -- said, (evolution) appeared first as an enemy, and has turned out to be our best friend, because evolution can now explain all of these sorts of cruelties or mistakes that exist in the world of life.

Let's start with a simple example. The human jaw is not large enough for all the teeth. So we have to pull wisdom teeth -- sometimes one, sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes all four. An engineer who designed the human jaw would be fired. And yet here we are, saying that would have been designed by God.

Much more extreme and much more serious is the human reproductive system. The human reproductive system is a mess. Twenty percent of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, or miscarriages, in the first two months, because the human reproductive system is so badly designed. They blame God for 20 million abortions per year; there are about 100 million births in the world a year. [Emphasis added.]
If evolution was first an enemy and then a best friend, then how does the negation of a literal reading of the parts of the Bible that speak on biology (and other sciences) not call all of it into question?

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