‘Darwin’s gift’ topic of presentation

Benjamin Cruz

Benjamin Cruz
City Times

“Evolution is consistent with the notion that the world was created by a omnipotent and benevolent god. What is called Creation or Intelligent Design is not compatible with the notion of an omnipotent and benevolent god.”

That was the thesis for Dr. Francisco J. Ayala’s presentation “Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion” on Oct. 1. As the final speaker to the much debated and controversial event held by the World Cultures department, Ayala’s presentation brought an audience that surpassed the Saville Theater’s capacity.

During his speech, Ayala explained to students many corrections to common assumptions regarding evolution. For example, he said that humans did not evolve from monkeys, but that monkeys evolved from humans.

“In this timeline (in the form of a tree), it shows that everything came from a single ancestor,” Ayala said. “With the technology of today, any species you want to know its evolution can be tracked back to four billion years ago, the beginning of time.”

Ayala also explained that Charles Darwin’s book “The Origin of Species” was not written to prove evolution correct. Instead, Ayala explained to students that Darwin wrote in his book that if his theory of natural selection works, evolution has to be real.

Natural selection means that the healthier, stronger offspring of a species are more likely to adapt to environment and survive to reproduce, but the weaker and ill of its kind die off.

Ayala then used an example with E. Coli. In this example, he showed that a small portion of E. Coli can survive in an environment in which it usually dies. The surviving E. Coli then reproduce offspring with the ability to adapt to the new environment.

“Organisms are full of defects, cruelty, sadism, imperfections,” Ayala explains. “If created by God, God is a very bad creator, a terrible engineer.”

Ayala said Intelligent Design means a flawless creation, but because the world is not perfect, he called it Imperfect Design. Ayala proved this by explaining that our jaw has no room for wisdom teeth as it did in the past.

“An engineer who designs a jaw not big enough for our teeth can get fired,” Ayala joked.

“In terms of evolution, our brains need more space with time, therefore, the jaw got smaller, that’s his interpretation, that’s what I got out of it.” City student Susan Sage said.

Ayala also explained that the woman’s reproductive organs are not compatible with giving birth, that the baby’s head can be too large to give a successful birth.

“An engineer who designs the woman’s reproductive organs too small to give birth could be thrown in jail for inhumane practice,” Ayala adds to his reasoning.

Ebonnie Cole, a City student, was indecisive about the whole thing. Still, she said she falls more on the evolutionary side.

“There are a lot of different situations as far as evolution itself,” Cole said. “But if God created everything, why are scientists able to study our history?

Another City student, Brandon Shaouna, said Ayala’s presentation was well rounded. He compared Ayala’s presentation to Dr. E. C. Ashby, who spoke Sept. 19.

“This man (Ayala) brought nothing but facts,” Shaouna said. “Dr. Ashby said he can prove creation through scientific data and that was it, he never stated hard facts. He (Ashby) said we shouldn’t focus on the common we have with primates but instead see the difference between us.”

Dr. Ashby’s presentation took place on Sept. 19. His thesis was that the origin of the universe is best explained by creation.

Ayala is a Professor of Philosophy and Donald Bren Professor Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvne. Ashby is a Chemistry Professor Emeritus at Georgia Institute of Technology.