Thanking God for Evolution

Interfaith Voices

Active ImageA Christian – Once an Anti-evolutionary Fundamentalist – Now Hears the Message of God in the Unfolding Evolutionary Process of the Universe

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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.

Welcome to the Ecozoic Era

UU World

By Amy Hassinger 

Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow offer a new vision of reality, evolution, and the divine.

Michael Dowd, tall and a bit gray around the temples, was pacing the sanctuary of my church with the athleticism of a twenty-year-old, gesturing wildly, even leaping off the dais. Our Western culture, he was saying, has historically thought of the universe as a mechanical thing, a clock created and set into motion by a clockmaker, who stood apart from it. But—and here Dowd’s voice quickened—there is no clockmaker hovering anxiously over his creation or, worse, having abandoned it. And there is no clock.

Michael and Connie on New Dimensions

New Dimensions Media


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 Program Description

Can evolutionary science and religious faith ultimately find common ground? And moreover, is it possible that evolution might not only be reconciled with religion, but in fact become the very foundation of a rich, new spiritual vision? For Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd, the answer is an unequivocal yes

Ordained minister speaks on human evolution

The California Aggie

by David Bellumori

Sample ImageThe Reverend Michael Dowd spoke Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis on new ways of thinking about evolution, the universe and humanity's place in the world.Among celestial images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of spinning galaxies, Dowd described this way of thinking as a "creationist story" untied to religious, ethnic or political groups.Dowd and his wife have traveled the country for the last four years speaking to audiences in high schools, colleges and congregations to spread their message. They try to work with as many different groups as possible, including atheists, Buddhists, Christians, American Indians and anyone else willing to listen.

Evolving Faith

Pittsburgh City Paper

Sample Image

Minister says you don't have to choose between God and Darwin 

by Melissa Meinzer

The much vaunted "fittest" in "survival of the fittest" can't include rigid fundamentalists who believe the Earth is a mere several thousand years old -- they're missing the long view, after all.

So says the Rev. Michael Dowd, a Pentecostal preacher, author and firm believer that evolution and Christianity can and must coexist. Dowd has done some evolving of his own: After straying from his Roman Catholic upbringing into a period at loose ends characterized by sex and booze, Dowd spent some years subscribing to fervent born-again Biblical literalism and, finally, to feeling called to preach the gospel of evolution.


Dowd will speak in Pittsburgh May 30 in support of a new edition of his book, Thank God for Evolution. For six years, Dowd and his wife Connie Barlow have been nomads, traveling by van from city to city, spreading their word.

"Many religious people reject evolution because they've been taught or told that it's contradictory to their faith," Dowd says by phone, from a stop in Dayton, Ohio. His interpretation is that life on earth has evolved, and continues to do so, and that religious creation stories are poetic myths that can help us understand the ineffable beauty that is science.

"For billions of years, life has found ways of creating greater complexity and interdependence," says Dowd, calling evolution a "holy trajectory." His notions, he says, are "God-glorifying," because they contend that evolution is the work of the Divine in action. People can call that God, he says, or just see it as the work of some greater, holier good.

"Jews, Christians and Muslims all talk about [humanity's] fall" from innocence, he explains. "Those are mythic terms, traditional poetic understandings that point to something that's true." That true thing, he says, is pure innocence tainted by self-interested mistakes: a universal theme in the human experience.

"I hold all these concepts, all these doctrines to be true in a symbolic sense. It's not about whether someone chooses to believe in the literal miracles of the Bible."

So if the doctrines are merely symbolic, why bother maintaining ties to Christianity at all?

"Every religion has its own gifts," he says. "Whether one interprets the stories of Jesus as complete fiction or myth, it doesn't matter. The person, the character of Jesus the Christ is the authenticity, trust and humility" that we need to coexist on the planet. What's most important, Dowd says, is that we realize our interdependence on one another and our role in the millennial symphony being played out on Earth.

But some of Dowd's former fellow-travelers are not convinced.

"Reverend Dowd may be well intentioned, well meaning," says Paul Abramson, editor of "I'd love to debate him, but I'd be sorry to embarrass him in front of a large group of people."

Abramson, who subscribes to a literal, Biblical narrative in which God created the universe in six days, says the title of Dowd's book is deliberately provocative. "[Dowd's] writing is a dime-a-dozen," he says by phone, from Indiana. "He should study creation science: There is good evidence that the earth is less than 10,000 years old."

Debating creation and evolution, says Abramson, is mostly just a distraction anyway: "The creation/evolution debate relates to how powerful is God. Is God honest? He said six days, the context seems to say six days, why can't it be six days?"

Dowd, says Abramson, is "dumbing down Christianity in a dangerous way."

But regardless of such criticism, Dowd says people get what he's preaching.

"About 75 percent of Americans we've found, from atheists to evangelicals, the vast majority of people across the spectrum have real enthusiasm for what we're trying to do," he says. "No religion could emerge into its full glory without an evolutionary perspective."