And, he’s not afraid to be as blunt with IDers as Richard Dawkins:
In fact, he said, evolution “is more consistent with belief in a personal god than intelligent design. If God has designed organisms, he has a lot to account for.”Ayala also offers his take on the “teach the controversy,” or similar statements, espoused by many evolution doubters from President Bush on down, as well as evolution denialists:
Consider, he said, that at least 20 percent of pregnancies are known to end in spontaneous abortion. If that results from divinely inspired anatomy, Dr. Ayala said, “God is the greatest abortionist of them all.”
Or consider, he said, the “sadism” in parasites that live by devouring their hosts, or the mating habits of insects like female midges, tiny flies that fertilize their eggs by consuming their mates’ genitals, along with all their other parts.
For the midges, Dr. Ayala said, “it makes evolutionary sense. If you are a male and you have mated, the best thing you can do for your genes is to be eaten.” But if God or some other intelligent agent made things this way on purpose, he said, “then he is a sadist, he certainly does odd things and he is a lousy engineer.”
That is also the message of his latest book, “Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion.”
He dismisses the argument that it is only fair to teach both sides of the evolution/creationism controversy. “We don’t teach alchemy along with chemistry,” he said. “We don’t teach witchcraft along with medicine. We don’t teach astrology with astronomy.”Ayala’s work on behalf of evolutionary biology is greatly appreciated.
But, his comments also underscore part of why I became an atheist.
If you accept the idea that God, in the Western monotheistic version, cannot be “all,” how much of a “less than all” do you accept and still find worthy of the label “God,” as far as powers or skills of design?
Or, second question – how much below “less than all” do you get until you recognize that your “God” is nothing but a “god of the gaps” and that these gaps have been being closed by both science and philosophy for 300 years or more?
Or transferring this issue beyond what philosophers call “natural evil” to “moral evil,” how much “inhumanity” (the older Mark Twain would say it’s quite human) do you accept as the production, whether active or passive, of a “morally less than all” divinity before junking the idea entirely?
And, that said, at the end of the NYT story, Ayala himself refuses to discuss whether he is still a religious believer or not.