Evolution Icon Evolution
Faith & Science Icon Faith & Science

Francisco Ayala Makes Confused Religious Arguments for Evolution

Casey Luskin

The mainstream media’s “framing” of the evolution-debate would have us believe that Darwin-skeptics are the ones who make religious arguments and try to push religion into the science classroom. But the evidence shows that the Darwinists are often the ones who push religion — and in an unashamed manner, at that. A recent UC Irvine news article reports on a lecture given by leading evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala where he suggested that religion should be discussed in science classes. Ayala said, “the fact that science is compatible with religion is an important thing to state in science classes.” He continued making religious arguments for evolution, contending, “The theory of evolution is better for religion than intelligent design.”

But the most peculiar statement by Ayala was, “[I]t is not impossible that evolution was guided by God.” I do not find that statement odd because I think it is wrong — in fact, I personally completely agree with Ayala’s statement. No, the statement is strange because Ayala himself made arguments last year that seemingly flatly contradict any God-guided evolution. In an article Ayala published in the prestigious scientific journal, Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA, he stated, “In evolution, there is no entity or person who is selecting adaptive combinations.” How would Ayala reconcile those seemingly contradictory statements? He doesn’t say.

In fact, Ayala’s 2007 PNAS article starkly promotes materialist views of evolution: He concludes that “evolution conveys chance and necessity jointly enmeshed in the stuff of life; randomness and determinism interlocked in a natural process…” Ayala’s PNAS article contends that it was “Darwin’s greatest accomplishment” to remove “a Creator or other external agent” from biology. Just to make sure you aren’t bringing any kind of purpose or teleology into evolution, Ayala’s 2007 PNAS article explains that an evolutionary account “does not necessitate recourse to a preordained plan, whether imprinted from the beginning or through successive interventions by an omniscient and almighty Designer.” Ayala isn’t saying that this “preordained plan” might exist, for he is adamant that “Biological evolution … is not the outcome of preconceived design.” (emphasis added) He forcefully concludes in his PNAS article that Darwin completed a “conceptual revolution” that “is nothing if not a fundamental vision that has forever changed how mankind perceives itself and its place in the universe.”

Those statements were made in 2007, but yet now Ayala contends that “it is not impossible that evolution was guided by God” and that therefore “science is compatible with religion.” Unfortunately, Ayala has yet to provide a clear, detailed rationale for how he reconciles all of those statements.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



Francisco Ayala