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Thanking God for Evolution
A Christian – Once an Anti-evolutionary Fundamentalist – Now Hears the Message of God in the Unfolding Evolutionary Process of the Universe
Listen to this radio interview here.
Michael Dowd, author of the forthcoming book, Thank God for Evolution! : How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World, Dowd was raised a Roman Catholic, but later moved to fundamentalist Pentecostalism. As a student at Evangel College, he was sure that Satan had taken over when he discovered that a biology text included a discussion of evolution. His views changed as he conversed with colleagues he respected and with a Buddhist monk who impressed him with his “Christian” behavior. Today, he and his wife, Connie Barlow (a science writer), travel the country preaching evolutionary theology and spirituality. They have no home, but drive a trailer and live where they find hospitality.
Evolution, he says, is “public revelation,” based on scientific evidence and methods. Faith, by contrast, is “private revelation.” Dowd begins with the 14 billion year evolutionary process, telling the story in a sacred way, hearing the message of God in the unfolding. The vast majority of scientists, he notes – including most advocates of “intelligent design” – accept the reality of evolution.He likens the universe to Russian “nesting dolls,” or “nesting centers of creativity.” Thus, there are sub-atomic particles within atoms, within molecules, within creatures, within the earth, within the universe. Using this image, God is the largest “nesting doll,” the “whole” – both transcendent – greater than any one thing or creature – and immanent, a part of everything. Thus, nature does not exist for human beings; human beings exist to serve nature or the “whole” or “God.”Dowd thus understands human beings as growing from the process of evolution. We are, he says, nature reflecting on itself with the power to save the earth, to immunize it against disasters (like comets, for example) and to reverse the current trend of global warming. This ethic, he says, is what it means today to “know, love and serve God.”Although Dowd is himself a Christian, he says that this message is universal, and will, in fact, transform all religious traditions. Dowd and his wife talk to groups across the United States as diverse as atheists, conservative evangelicals, Unitarians, Jews, mainline Protestants, Catholics, Hindus, and others – and they find that 80-90% of their audiences relate positively to this message. Is he optimistic that the spread of evolutionary spirituality reverse the tide of climate change? It will bring great changes, he believes, but will not likely prevent all catastrophes. But these catastrophes, he believes, will call all religious traditions to greatness, transcending boundaries as they seek solutions.