Templeton Prize goes to evolutionist professor


Photo iStockphoto 1.5 million dollars

The 2010 Templeton Prize, currently worth ~US$1.5 million, has been awarded to an evolutionist professor and former Dominican priest, Francisco J. Ayala. The prize, which is regularly adjusted so that it exceeds the value of the Nobel Prizes, is awarded annually by the Templeton Foundation, whose website says: “The Templeton Prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.”1 So what has Prof. Ayala done to fulfil this criterion for receiving this award?

After noting that Ayala is an evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist, and Prof. of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, the Templeton Prize News Release2 says that he has:

“vigorously defended scientific theory from the influence of religious belief while also calling for mutual respect between the two”;

“devoted more than 30 years to explaining the difference between science and faith and asserting how both are undermined when mistakenly confused”;

“served as an expert witness in a pivotal U.S. federal court challenge in 1981 that led to the overturning of an Arkansas law mandating the teaching of creationism alongside evolution. … Three years after the Arkansas court challenge, Ayala was asked by the National Academy of Sciences to serve as principal author of Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a categorical and definitive refutation of creationism and so-called intelligent design. Follow-up editions were published in 1999 and 2008.”

It thus appears that Templeton has given its award to Prof. Ayala principally because he has spent some 30 years of his academic career opposing creation and creationism (and more recently intelligent design), and for promoting evolution. Ayala told the Los Angeles Times that he believed he was receiving the award for his scientific work and for the “very important consequence of making people accept science, and making people accept evolution in particular” (emphasis added).3

Creation, of course, is the way God says He caused all things to come into being as recorded in Genesis, while evolution is the atheistic theory that the universe and everything in it, including life, all formed themselves by themselves.

God removed

When we last looked at the Templeton Prize data, in 2002, (Evangelical Colleges paid to teach evolution) we noted that the prize was awarded annually to someone “who has shown originality in advancing ideas and institutions that deepen the world’s understanding of God and of spiritual life and service” (emphasis added).4 This year the Templeton website says: “The Prize celebrates no particular faith tradition or notion of God, but rather the quest for progress in humanity’s efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine.”5 It thus appears that since 2002 ‘God’ has quietly been given the boot by the Templeton Board and eliminated from their consideration. Of course, even when ‘God’ was included, it was not the biblical God they had in mind.

At that time (2002), the Templeton website said: “We hope all religions may become more dynamic and inspirational”,6 and “Nominations for potential recipients are sought from all nations and religions of the world”.6 To this end, former judges used by Templeton have included the Dalai Lama, Prof. Paul Davies, Prince Charles, Monshu Koshin Ohtani (spiritual leader of one of Japan’s largest Buddhist institutions), and Nikkyo Niwano (co-founder of the world’s largest Buddhist lay organization, who also himself received the award in 1979).7

Scientific American Nov. 2008

Journalist Sally Lehrman, in an article in Scientific American about Prof. Ayala, has some very pertinent comments. She says: “But he [Ayala] is unwilling to affirm or deny a personal belief in God … .”8

Perhaps this is not so surprising in light of the fact that Ayala has been “A Supporter of NCSE [i.e. the National Centre for Science Education] since its founding”,9 and this organization was founded by atheists to promote evolution and to combat creationists. In so doing it has welcomed the support of compromising clergymen, as atheist and militant anti-creationist NCSE Executive Director Eugenie Scott has said, “I have found that the most effective allies for evolution are people of the faith community. One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists at a school board meeting any day! … What we [such clergy and atheists] have in common is that we want to see evolution taught in the public schools … ”10

The problem of evil and suffering

One of Ayala’s problems, it seems, is how an alleged God who is loving and all knowing can allow evil and suffering.8 Ayala’s solution is to blame evolution. Lehrman wrote: “Natural selection can explain the ruthlessness of nature, Ayala argues, and remove the ‘evil’—requiring an intentional act of freewill—from the living world. ‘Darwin solved the problem,’ Ayala concludes.”8

Comment: The problem of evil and suffering in the world is not solved by embracing Darwinism, but by accepting the biblical record of the Fall and the subsequent Curse because of sin (Genesis 3). God has the solution. His solution is the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, who came to this world, was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin, died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, and came back to life to give Eternal Life to all who put their faith and trust in Him.

Other Templeton activity

Lehrman also wrote: “Ayala is again giving his colleagues pause by sitting on the advisory board of the John Templeton Foundation, which paid out $70 million in grants last year alone for research and scholarly programs ‘engaging life’s biggest questions.’”8

This statement refers to the fact that the Templeton Foundation funds courses and conferences at tertiary institutions around the world that are in line with its own philosophy and ethos. Over the years, several theological colleges in Australasia, as well as around the world, have accepted the funding and found that the course was basically theistic evolution (Evangelical colleges paid to teach evolution).


There are two major ways being used to undermine the authority of God’s Word, the Bible, in the world today. One is to seek to exclude and prohibit all teaching of what the Bible has to say about origins in school and university science classes, which Prof. Ayala seems to have spent most of his academic life doing. The other is to try and marry evolution and religion, which it seems the Templeton Foundation spends millions of dollars doing.

Christians need to be aware, alert, and armed on both counts.

Published: 22 April 2010


  1. John Templeton Foundation, www.templeton.org/ downloaded April 19, 2010. Return to text.
  2. Templeton Prize Social Media News Release, news.templetonprize.org/?ReleaseID=18129. Return to text.
  3. UC Irvine’s Francisco Ayala wins Templeton Prize, Los Angeles Times, posted on latimes.com March 26, 2010. Return to text.
  4. www.templeton.org/2001winner.asp, downloaded 23 January 2002. Return to text.
  5. Templeton Prize, Purpose, downloaded April 19, 2010. Return to text.
  6. Templeton Prize, Purpose, downloaded Feb. 14, 2002 and quoted in creation.com/evangelical-colleges-paid-to-teach-evolution. Return to text.
  7. Templeton Prize, Previous Judges. Return to text.
  8. Lehrman, S., The Christian Man’s Evolution, Scientific American, 299(5):74–75, Nov. 2008. Return to text.
  9. Ncse.com/news/2010/03/ayala-wins-templeton-prize-005389. Return to text.
  10. T.J. Oord and E. Stark, A conversation with Eugenie Scott, Science and Theology News, 1 April 2002, quoted in J. Wells, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design (Regnery Publishing: Washington, DC, 2006), p. 175.Return to text.

Helpful Resources