Reflections on Key Books, by Francisco J. Ayala.
- Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion. Joseph Henry Press, 2007
This book’s message is that science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters. They are like two windows through which we look at the world—the same world but we see different aspects. Science concerns the processes that account for the natural world: how the planets move, the composition of matter and space, the origin and function of organisms. Religion concerns the meaning and purpose of the world and of human life, the proper relation of people to their Creator and to each other, the moral values that inspire and govern people’s lives.
- Darwin and Intelligent Design. Fortress Press, 2006
A similar message to Darwin’s Gift, but shorter and intended primarily for a religious audience, rather than for the general public.
- Human Evolution. Trails from the Past. (with C.J. Cela-Conde). Oxford University Press, 2007
The discovery of fossil remains of human ancestors has increased tremendously in recent years. Scientific discoveries in genetics, genomics, and evolution theory have considerably advanced our knowledge of human biology. Human Evolution integrates recent fossil and biological discoveries seeking a more complete understanding of human evolution and human biological nature. Moreover, the book goes beyond biology and explores the origins of language, art, morality, and religion.
- What the Biological Sciences Can and Cannot Contribute to Ethics. In Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010
- Biology Precedes, Culture Transcends: An Evolutionist’s View of Human Nature. Zygon Vol.33, December 1998
- The Biological Roots of Morality. Biology and Philosophy Vol. 2, July 1987
Philosophers and theologians advanced over the centuries a variety of accounts of the origins of ethics and morality. After Darwin, numerous philosophers, theologians and evolutionists argued that morality needs to be explained biologically, as an outcome of the evolutionary process, while others hold on to religious and other traditional explanations. I argue that a proper account of the origin of morality needs to distinguish between (1) moral judgments and (2) the norms or codes by which we judge what is good and what is evil. Our disposition to judge actions as either good or evil is, I argue, determined by our biological make-up, by the exalted intelligence that we acquired from our evolution. Moral codes, however, are the outcome of cultural evolution including social and religious traditions—this is why norms of morality vary among human groups and change through time.
- Studies in the Philosophy of Biology (editor, with Th. Dobzhansky). Macmillan/University of California, 1974
Up until the mid-twentieth century, philosophy of science was philosophy of physics. However, new philosophical issues and new insights were emerging from the rapidly advancing biological sciences. The great twentieth-century evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky and I convened twenty eminent scholars, philosophers and biologists, including several Nobel laureates, to write essays and to discuss them during ten days of “isolation” in the magnificent Villa Serbelloni by Lake Como, in northern Italy. Studies in the Philosophy of Biology is often considered one of the foundation documents of the – by now very prolific – philosophy of biology.