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Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion

Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Student Services Center Multipurpose Room
UC San Diego campus


The speaker is Francisco J. Ayala.

The Lecture:  Darwin is deservedly given credit for the theory of biological evolution. He accumulated evidence demonstrating that organisms evolve and diversify through time. Most important, however, is that he discovered natural selection, the process that accounts for the adaptive organization of organisms and their features; that is, their "design". The design of organisms is not intelligent, as it would be expected from an engineer, but imperfect and worse. Defects, dysfunctions, oddities, waste - and even cruelty and sadism - pervade the living world. Natural selection is Darwin's Gift to religion, because the dysfunctions and waste of the living world need not be attributed to the Creator, but explained as an outcome of a natural process. 

Ayala is an internationally renowned scientist for his studies on population and evolutionary genetics. He has been called the "Renaissance Man of Evolutionary Biology". His lecture on the molecular clock of evolution is based upon using molecular probes to reconstruct evolutionary history and the timing of past events. He is a critic of creationism and intelligent design theories.

Professor Ayala's awards include the National Medal of Science and the Templeton Prize.