Francisco Ayala, a former priest who is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Irvine, has been awarded the 2010 Templeton Prize. It goes to “a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension,” UCI officials said.
Ayala is against mixing science with religion but has called for mutual respect between the two. He has asserted that both science and faith are damaged when either invades the other’s proper domain, such as teaching the theory of creationism alongside the theory of evolution. Yet, even as he warns against religion’s intrusion into science, Ayala, a former Dominican priest, also champions faith as a unique and important window to understanding matters of purpose, values and the meaning of life, UCI officials said.
“If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters, and each is essential to human understanding,” Ayala has said.