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Some 'Condemning' NAS for Hosting Templeton Prize Announcement

Nature reports that this year's Templeton Prize winner, Francisco Ayala, professor at the University of California, Irvine, is accepting the prize of about $1.53 million amid some controversy. The annual prize is intended to honor one "who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works," and awards a monetary value that "is set always to exceed the Nobel Prizes to underscore [John] Templeton's belief that benefits from discoveries that illuminate spiritual questions can be quantifiably more vast than those from other worthy human endeavors." According to Nature, some researchers are "condemning" the National Academy of Sciences, which hosted the award announcement on March 25. Richard Dawkins says that in hosting the announcement for Ayala, who was ordained as a Dominican priest, the NAS "has brought ignominy on itself." According to Nature, however, former NAS President Bruce Alberts called Ayala "the leading crusader against damage and confusion caused when religious movements attempt to substitute meanings for scientific understanding." Blogger PZ Myers at Pharyngula calls the awardee "a politically brilliant choice" for the prize.

The Scan

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