God and evolution: One evangelical minister says the two go hand in hand

Asheville Citizen Times

by Leslie Boyd

As a conservative, evangelical Christian, the Rev. Michael Dowd once was furious when he heard evolution discussed by his peers.

God created the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh. That was all there was to it.

Then, in 1988, he was introduced to Thomas Berry, and within 30 minutes, his view of the universe and the sacred had changed profoundly.

“It was like a religious epiphany,” he said. “I saw that evolution could enrich and deepen my faith.”

Immediately, Dowd began studying geology, cosmology, astrophysics, biology and anthropology. He came to the conclusion that science and faith are two sides of the same coin. Dowd is author of the book, “Thank God for Evolution,” which “marries” the two.

Dowd and his wife, science writer Connie Barlow, will be in Asheville for three presentations this month and in December to talk about his book and the belief that knowledge of science can deepen one's faith in God.

“We humans are the universe becoming aware of itself,” he said. “My thoughts, my feelings, are an extension of the universe. ... We can honor God by honoring creation.”

Dowd speaks with the fervor of an evangelist, which he still is. He was pastor of three churches in the 1980s and 1990s, but in 2002, he and his wife took to the road. They travel the country, speaking up to 200 times a year to both religious and secular audiences.

Dowd and Barlow carry their possessions with them and stay with families who open their homes to them. They tell the “Great Story,” as Dowd calls his conviction that God is the creative force behind evolution and that humans are the universe becoming aware of itself.

He explains the creation story in the Bible as the way people explained the unknown before they became aware of the scientific evidence of evolution, plate tectonics, geology other science.

“If you lived in the Pacific Northwest hundreds of years ago and you saw a boulder in the middle of a meadow, how would you explain it if you had no knowledge of glacial activity?” he said. “Now that we have scientific ways of explaining some of these mysteries doesn't mean we throw God out the window.”

Dowd's book has been endorsed by five Nobel laureates and dozens of other scientists, as well as religious leaders from a variety of faith traditions.

“Facts are God's native tongue,” he said. “Every new discovery we make is a new communication from God.”