The work of Francisco J. Ayala in both biology and theology is gaining significant attention around the blogosphere. William Dembski has offered a critical review of Ayala’s book Darwin’s Gift: To Science and Religion (which I also reviewed on my blog a while back). The Panda’s Thumb blog also has an entry on the book. Of course, neither Ayala’s work in biology nor his engagement with theology is new to the web or in general.
Anyone who might simply read a review like Dembski’s and dismiss Ayala’s contribution really ought to visit the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and read some of Ayala’s work in the sciences first hand. Just search for “Ayala“. Indeed, anyone who thinks that the majority of scientists are simply deceived by ideology must never have visited such sites, where there is continuous stream of papers on research into biological evolution that are intelligent, well-written, and show clearly that, rather than being a “spent force”, evolution is an exciting area of ongoing research that is extremely fruitful.
Intelligent and fruitful theological discussion of the intersection between mainstream science and religion continues to occur and be productive, largely apart from the ID crowd and certainly not in ways that presuppose that framework. The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences has web pages for several conferences that include reading materials that are useful and are freely shared on their web page.
I draw attention to all these online resources in an attempt to highlight the fact that, while movements like Intelligent Design continue to garner much attention (following their manifesto of self-promotion quite carefully), the really fruitful discussions between mainstream religion and science is happening in a much more low-key fashion, which does not usually get it the attention that controversy would. But that is where the really significant stuff is happening, outside the limelight, in a fashion that displays the courtesy and creativity one would expect from those genuinely seeking the truth – whether in religion or in science.