This year’s Templeton Prize was last week awarded Francisco J. Ayala. Professor Ayala, a geneticist and biologist and a former Dominican priest, has opposed entangling science and religion while calling for mutual respect between the two. He denies that science contradicts religion, and says “they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters, and each is essential to human understanding.”
Ayala’s research is also on parasitic diseases such as trypanosomiasis and malaria. He developed accurate ways to read genetic clocks to find out the timing of steps in the evolution of a species. Recently, he and colleagues determined that malaria was likely first transmitted from chimpanzees to humans a few thousand years ago, and that gorillas and chimps may serve as reservoirs for the parasites that cause human malaria.
Earlier prize winners vary in their views on thought, science and religion, and include people such as Billy Graham, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn John C. Polkinghorne, and Bernard d’Espagnat. These represent persons with different views on science and religion than what Ayala advocates, and Science recently wrote the John Templeton Foundation, which awards the Templeton Prize, in recent years has become more mainstream..
You can read more about Ayalas works on science and religion at http://www.templetonprize.org/currentwinner.html