Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion

Francisco J. Ayala

Wednesday, 18 Feb 2009 at 8:00 pm – Sun Room/South Ballroom, Memorial Union

Francisco J. Ayala, an evolutionary biologist and geneticist at the University of California, Irvine, was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a winner of the National Medal of Science. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books, including, most recently, Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion and Darwin and Intelligent Design. He was a chief witness in the creationist trials in Arkansas in 1981 that prevented religion from being taught as science in the classroom.
A Conversation with Francisco Ayala:
Wednesday, February 18, 2009, 12 noon, Sun Room, Memorial Union

Darwin Bicenntenial Celebration Committee reception and poster session for faculty and student research in evolutionary biology will precede the talk at 7:00 p.m. in the South Ballroom.

Part of the National Affairs Series and the Darwin Bicentennial Celebration.

His philosophical writings range from the scientific method to the biological foundations of ethics. He is a former Dominican priest whose defense of the theory of evolution does not rule out belief in God.

University of California, Irvine
University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences

Professor of Philosophy, Philosophy, School of Humanities

Professor of Logic and the Philosophy of Science, Logic & Philosophy of Science
School of Social Sciences

PH.D., Columbia University, 1964

Interests Evolutionary Genetics

Distinctions Former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; awarded 2001 National Medal Of Science. Member: National Academy of Sciences; American Academy of Arts & Sciences; American Philosophical Society. Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. Foreign Member: Russian Academy of Sciences, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome; Royal Academy of Sciences, Spain; Mexican Academy of Sciences; Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences. Received: Gold Honorary Gregor Mendel Medal, Czech Academy of Sciences; Gold Medal of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei; Gold Medal of the Stazione Zoologica, Naples; President's Award of the American Institute of Biological Sciences; Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award and 150th Anniversary Leadership Medal, AAAS; Medal of the College of France; UCI Medal, University of California; 1998 Distinguished Scientist Award, SACNAS; and Sigma Xi's William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement, 2000.

Abstract Some recent research of my group has focused on the origin and evolution of introns, and on the evolution and functional significance of (1) pseudogenes and (2) ectopic expression.

We continue research on questions related to the molecular clock of evolution. DNA and protein sequences can be used for reconstructing evolutionary history and timing events of the past. How good is the clock? We are investigating a number of genes and testing new models of rates of gene evolution.

Another major research effort focuses on the population structure and evolution of parasitic protozoa, such as the agents of malaria and Chagas disease. We have shown that the four species of Plasmodium that cause human malaria diverged many million years ago; they became human parasites independently, by lateral transfer from other hosts. However, the world populations of P. falciparum, the agent of malignant malaria, originated from a single propagule only a few thousand years ago, by host transfer from chimpanzee P. reichenowi. The world expansion of P. falciparum parasites is very recent, starting in Africa during the Neolithic, a few thousand years ago.

Additionally, I am interested in the philosophy of biology and in bioethics, as well as in the relationships between science and religion, including the teaching of evolution in the schools

Darwin's Gift: to Science and Religion by Francisco Ayala (April 23, 2007)

Darwin And Intelligent Design (Facets Series) by Francisco Jose Ayala (Sep 15, 2006)

Handbook of Evolution: The Evolution of Living Systems (Including Hominids) (Handbook of Evolution(VCH)) by Franz M. Wuketits, Francisco J. Ayala, Franz M. Wuketits, and Francisco J. Ayala (Sep 2, 2005)

Systematics And the Origin of Species: On Ernst Mayr's 100th Anniversary by National Academy of Sciences, Jody Hey, Walter M. Fitch, and Francisco J. Ayala (Sep 28, 2005)

Studies in the Philosophy of Biology: Reduction and Related Problems by Francisco Ayala (Dec 1974)

Genetics, Development, and Evolution (Stadler Genetics Symposia) by J. Perry Gustafson, G. Ledyard Stebbins, and Francisco Jose Ayala (May 31, 1986)

Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action by Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Robert J. Russell, William R. Stoeger, and Francisco Jose Ayala (Sep 1999)

Variation and Evolution in Plants and Microorganisms: Toward a New Synthesis 50 Years after Stebbins by National Academy of Sciences, Francisco J. Ayala, Walter M. Fitch, and Michael T. Clegg (Oct 11, 2000)

Modern Genetics (Solutions Manual) by Francisco Jose Ayala and John A. Kiger
Evolving: The Theory and Processes of Organic Evolution

This lecture was made possible in part by the generosity of F. Wendell Miller, who left his entire estate jointly to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Mr. Miller, who died in 1995 at age 97, was born in Altoona, Illinois, grew up in Rockwell City, graduated from Grinnell College and Harvard Law School and practiced law in Des Moines and Chicago before returning to Rockwell City to manage his family's farm holdings and to practice law. His will helped to establish the F. Wendell Miller Trust, the annual earnings on which, in part, helped to support this activity.

Cosponsored By:
  • Bioethics Program
  • Darwin Bicentennial Celebration Committee
  • EEB Interdepartmental Graduate Program
  • Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
  • Genetics, Development and Cell Biology
  • Interdepartmental Genetics Graduate Program
  • LAS Miller Lecture Fund
  • National Affairs
  • Parks Library
  • Philosophy & Religious Studies
  • Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government)

Stay for the entire event, including the brief question-and-answer session that follows the formal presentation. Most events run 75 minutes.

Sign-ins are after the event concludes. For lectures in the Memorial Union, go to the information desk in the Main Lounge. In other academic buildings, look for signage outside the auditorium.

Lecture Etiquette

  • Stay for the entire lecture and the brief audience Q&A. If a student needs to leave early, he or she should sit near the back and exit discreetly.
  • Do not bring food or uncovered drinks into the lecture.
  • Check with Lectures staff before taking photographs or recording any portion of the event. There are often restrictions. Cell phones, tablets and laptops may be used to take notes or for class assignments.
  • Keep questions or comments brief and concise to allow as many as possible.