Who's Who in the Science and Religion Debate

Is the acceptance of evolutionary theory essential to the credibility of religious belief?

BY: Gregg Easterbrook

     Often it is assumed that working scientists avoid issues of spirituality and theology, because they are not believers or do not care for the science and religion debate. Surely there are some scientists who fit that description, but many of the great minds of science have been fascinated with ultimate questions of God and creation, taking strong stands for or against belief. This Beliefnet series will run regular thumbnail sketches of how prominent scientists, past and present, have thought on the subject.

     Francisco Ayala. Geneticist, University of California at Irvine; past president, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ayala originally studied for the Catholic priesthood, and remains a practicing Catholic; he is also one of the leading contemporary evolutionary biologists. Ayala thinks that much of the science illiteracy in the United States traces to the fact high school and college science instructors give students the false impression that science equates to atheism, putting them off from the subject. He also says that "the acceptance of evolutionary theory, which is extremely well established by evidence, is essential to the credibility of religious belief."

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