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Redefining the frontiers of knowledge

The Hana and Francisco Jose Ayala Center for Science, Technology, and Religion organised a day of homage to the scientist and humanist Francisco J. Ayala

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The co-directors of the Center with the Rector, Enrique Sanz, SJ, and Robert M. Hauser, Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society

14 March 2024

The Hana and Francisco Jose Ayala Center for Science, Technology, and Religion at the School of Engineering (Comillas ICAI) held a tribute, coinciding with the 90th anniversary of his birth, to the scientist and humanist Francisco J. Ayala, who passed away in March 2023. Some of his most prominent disciples from countries such as the United States, Brazil, the Czech Republic and Spain took part.

The conference, "Frontiers of the Universal: Towards a Symphony of Science, Art, Faith, and Knowledge Economy to Mobilize the Wonder of the Natural World in Benefit of Humanity", addressed Ayala's contribution to science, progress and the sustainability of the planet, as well as to the science-religion dialogue.

The act began with a welcome from the rector, Enrique Sanz, SJ, who thanked Hana Ayala and the directors of the Center, Jaime Tatay, SJ, and Sara Lumbreras, for their work in organising the meeting. "Francisco Ayala was a great scientist, humanist and philanthropist. Today's conference confirms this multidisciplinary personality," he noted. "Today we celebrate his contribution to building bridges between science and religion, two of the most powerful forces that have shaped our understanding of the universe," he concluded.

Hana Ayala took up the baton to recall that "today we celebrate an extraordinary human being. His life was dedicated to putting science, as well as theological and philosophical reflection at the service of humanity," she said. Finally, the directors of the Center, Sara Lumbreras and Jaime Tatay, SJ, stressed the importance of Ayala as an interlocutor and mediator between science and religion. "Science and technology have the capacity to improve life, but they are not neutral. They require ethical analysis," they said.

The opening lecture was given by Robert M. Hauser, Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society and guest of honour. In his speech, Hauser said: "It is fair to say that part of Francisco's brilliance is due to his marriage to Hana. Today we should celebrate them both." "Ayala was able to think out of the box, building bridges between science and religion," he said.

Medals of honour 

The event closed with the first presentation of medals to some of Ayala's main collaborators: Camilo Cela Conde, Diego Bermejo and Robert M. Hauser himself. The Rector closed the ceremony by saying: "With these medals of the Hana and Francisco J. Ayala Center for Science, Technology, and Religion we want to recognize the work of those who have shown not only academic and professional excellence, but also a deep commitment to exploring convergences and constructive dialogues between these fields traditionally considered different".

The act concluded with a concert at the Church of La Inmaculada Concepción y San Pedro Claver (Comillas ICADE) and a visit to the university museum for all attendees.

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