Religion, science should exist in harmony

St. Louis Suburban Journal

By Rev. Carleton Stock, Northminster Presbyterian Church

Last March, the Rev. Michael Dowd came to our church to make a presentation based on his book, "Thank God for Evolution." The room was full, and he was well received.

Dowd has been called America's evolutionary evangelist. He has dedicated his life to proclaiming the "Great Story" of a sacred view of cosmic, biological and human evolution.

Dowd has pastored three United Church of Christ congregations, and he has worked with conservative and liberal religious leaders across America on environmental, peace and justice issues. Since 2002, he has lived entirely on the road with his wife Connie, an acclaimed science writer. He is passionate about sharing the 14-billion-year history of everything and everyone. His message was clear, exciting and inspiring to all of us.

The debate over evolution versus creation, science versus religion, has been bitter and divisive, with each camp dismissing the points of the other. Rev. Dowd and others like him put those divisions to rest. He offers a perspective that allows both views to exist in harmony.

As he says in his book and his presentation - with evidence from contemporary astrophysics, geology, biology, anthropology and evolutionary psychology - he finds a unity, not a collision, with religion and science. Covering concepts as diverse as deep ecology, original sin, the Big Bang, salvation and sustainability, his book celebrates a cosmology that is comprehensive and nonexclusionary. Dowd provides a solid moral and ethical foundation for a life of passion and deep meaning in troubled times. Science and religion are, in his view, two sides of the same coin.

People of faith do not have to choose between science and religion. The two can be married in such a way that they can inspire one another rather than conflict with one another. They have been divorced for so long, when they really don't have to be.

God is not somewhere outside the creation, but rather a spirit and force within creation. Human beings were not dropped onto earth but rather evolved out of earth, out of God's incredible universe. And humans, as the only self-conscious creatures we know of, are partners with God in creating the future. The sooner we all acknowledge this earth as our home, rather than someplace we live for a while before we go to our real home, the sooner we will create the kind of planet where all, instead of a minority of the world's population, can live in love, hope, peace and joy together.

As Michael Dowd says, "thank God for evolution," for it is through this evolutionary journey that the Lord provides a place where the gift of life can flourish and grow, and where people of faith can participate in God's creative process, building toward the "kingdom of God" on earth.

The Rev. Carleton Stock is co-pastor with his wife, the Rev. Elinor Stock, at the Northminster Presbyterian Church, 1570 Chambers Road in Dellwood. He can be reached at cstock@cbnstl.com.