Francisco Ayala, Distinguished UCI Biologist, to Speak on Separation of Church and Science

John J. Templeton (left) and Britain's Prince Philip flank 2010 Templeton Prize winner Francisco Ayala at Buckingham Palace.
John J. Templeton (left) and Britain's Prince Philip flank 2010 Templeton Prize winner Francisco Ayala at Buckingham Palace.
Clifford Shirley/Templeton Prize

Francisco Ayala, the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences at UC Irvine, shares "Darwin's Greatest Discovery: Design Without Designer" with the Orange County chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State on Saturday.

Ayala, an evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist, has vigorously opposed the entanglement of science and religion while also calling for mutual respect between the two. For that he won the 2010 Templeton Prize, which each year honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works. John J. Templeton and Britain's Prince Philip awarded Ayala the $1.49 million prize at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Ayala is a naturalized American who moved from Spain to New York in 1961 for graduate study and soon became a leader in molecular evolution and genetics. He has devoted more than 30 years to asserting that both science and faith are damaged when either invades the proper domain of the other.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Ayala to the U.S. President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. While president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 1993 to 1996, Ayala developed the AAAS "Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion." In 2001, George W. Bush awarded him the National Medal of Science.

Two of Ayala's books are Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion (2007, Joseph Henry Press), and Am I a Monkey? Six Big Questions about Evolution (2010, Johns Hopkins University Press).

The meeting of the Orange County chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Community Room at Irvine Ranch Water District1, 15500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine. For more information, call 949.733.9157, visit www.au-oc.org or email OrangeCountyAU@yahoo.com.

Oh, and I am loathe to include the following because I offer no such disclaimers when writing about religious groups meeting in community centers. But since it caused a poor Irvine Ranch Water District soul some grief last time I wrote about a godless event there, the district "neither supports nor endorses the cause nor activities of organizations which use the district's meeting rooms that are made available as a public service."

Tell it from the mountain, sister.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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