Francisco Ayala on “Darwin’s Gift to Religion”

We’ve long thought that Francisco J. Ayala is one of the most interesting participants in The Controversy between evolution and creationism. A former Dominican priest, he left the priesthood and earned a doctorate in biology at Columbia. He now teaches at the University of California, Irvine.

We’ve written about Ayala a few times before. See Francisco Ayala: Evolution and Creationism, and Charles Darwin, Francisco Ayala, and the Problem of Evil, and Discovery Institute: Francisco Ayala’s Templeton Prize (a Klinghoffer slime attack), and Answers in Genesis on Ayala’s Templeton Prize (they say he doesn’t know the bible).

In the Laurinburg Exchange of Laurinburg, North Carolina we read Lecture puts spin on evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

When Charles Darwin introduced the concept of evolution by natural selection, he provided a solution to explain the presence of evil in the world.

This was the thesis presented by Dr. Francisco J. Ayala during the John Calvin McNair Lecture on Science and Theology at St. Andrews Presbyterian College held on Oct. 19 in the William Henry Belk College.

Most of you know about the problem of evil, which has long bedeviled theology. In a nutshell, it’s this: If God is all good, all powerful, and all knowing, then why (aside from tales about a God-defying Satan) is there evil in the world? Ayala says that evolution solves the problem. Let’s read on:

After sharing a variety of evidence to support evolution, Ayala turned briefly to the argument of Intelligent Design. “Intelligent Design as a critique of evolution is wrong,” he said. “Intelligent Design is not science and is contrary to religion as it implies that God is incompetent and amounts to blasphemy.

“Intelligent Design cannot be tested as we do not know what the intentions of the designer were and we therefore cannot create an experiment to test the theory,” Ayala added. “Intelligent Design is contrary to religion as it is incompatible with an omnipotent, wise and benevolent creator. It implies an imperfect, incompetent, dysfunctional design and does not explain cruelty, oddities or sadism.

Guess what? Creationists don’t like Ayala. We continue:

Darwin’s gift to religion is that evolution explains why there is suffering and modern evil,” he said. “It is not because God is not benevolent, it is because of natural forces at play.

Ayala is definitely one of the good guys — and he drives the Discovery Institute crazy. Click over to the Laurinburg Exchange and read the whole article.

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7 responses to “Francisco Ayala on “Darwin’s Gift to Religion”

  1. Curmudgeon: “Creationists don’t like Ayala.”

    The YECs at AiG and ICR don’t like the Discoveroids either, but they hold their noses and ignore their fatal differences regarding “what happened when,” as well as strategies to get the “masses” to reject evolution. Which alone makes it clear that creationism/ID is not about the science but about peddling a paranoid worldview.

    My usual rant: I really would like to see more “divide and conquer” instead of helping the various “kinds” of anti-evolution activists prop up their big tent. If anyone can do that, people like Ayala, Miller and Collins can.

  2. Most of you know about the problem of evil, which has long bedeviled theology.

    “… bedeviled theology.” — LMAO!

    A wickedly crafted sentence, and clear proof that evil is alive and well nourished on the Sensuous Curmudgeon’s blog.

    😉

  3. Longie says: “A wickedly crafted sentence”

    How else can we discuss the problem of evil?

  4. “It is not because God is not benevolent, it is because of natural forces at play.”… that “God” set into motion… so he doesn’t get a pass. Sorry.

    The universe has no fingerprint of a designer on it. Not even process philosophy can make that so.

  5. When Ayala was at my college during ‘Darwin Year’ I pressed him in small group discussion on his notion that using evolution as His instrument lets God off the hook for natural evil. I said it let God off way too easy. Ayala demurred, but wouldn’t elaborate. I was disappointed in hm, frankly.

    I should add that Ayala chaired the committee that wrote the National Academies’ wishy-washy statement on science and religion.

  6. RBH says:

    I should add that Ayala chaired the committee that wrote the National Academies’ wishy-washy statement on science and religion.

    He is what he is. But he bashes the Discoveroids and their intelligent design nonsense, so I’m glad he’s around.

  7. Curmudgeon: “He is what he is. But he bashes the Discoveroids and their intelligent design nonsense, so I’m glad he’s around.”

    Me too. And I’m also glad RBH (expert on “Freshwater”) is around. To continue my first comment, we are the ones who ought to have a “big tent,” not the evolution-deniers. Not their “kind” of big tent, of course, which discourages internal debates on science or philosophy, but one where internal debates are encouraged as long as they don’t distract from the common goal of defeating those who willfully misrepresent science.

    I can’t see how we could ever defeat them as long as we keep helping them prop up their big tent. E.g. allowing the Discoveroids to keep silent about Freshwater when both supportive and critical statements would undermine their scam.