Thank God for evolution? Yes, says national speaker

Charlottesville Daily Progress

By Brandon Shulleeta

Evolution and the Bible don’t contradict each other. To have Jesus, Mary “most likely” had sex. And Charles Darwin is worthy of sainthood.

Those are statements the Rev. Michael Dowd, who spoke at Unity Church on Hydraulic Road on Sunday, made in a national tour to convince Christians that both God and evolution are real.

Dowd recognized some of his teachings as radical and said that two kissing fish on his van — one with Jesus’ name and the other with Darwin’s — have been seen as controversial. He said his book, “Thank God for Evolution,” is designed to defeat beliefs that science and evolution don’t mix. Christian conservatives often dismiss the idea of evolution, he said, because it’s often taught from a purely secular point-of-view.

“Nothing matters more than the way we think about evolution,” Dowd said. Evolution helps people understand where they came from and how certain events affect others.

Asking whether God or evolution is more responsible for events and existences is like asking whether a person or vocal chords made a sentence.

Dowd and his wife, Connie — an atheist science writer — have toured the country for six years. They live out of a van and homes of those who welcome them, Dowd said.

The Bible doesn’t contradict itself as long as people take a “day language” and “night language” approach to reading it, he said.

The former is a literal interpretation, while the latter is metaphorical and highly subjective, he said. “God is king,” for example, is a night language understanding of “reality rules.” The term “king” is relative to people’s understandings from life experiences, and without rulers of countries called kings, the phrase wouldn’t make sense.

Therefore, God creating the universe in six days and resting on the seventh is relative to people’s understanding of days, he said. Days can easily be seen as billions of years, depending on how “days” are understood, Dowd said.

Likewise, as animals can talk to people only in dreams, Biblical references to a talking snake only make sense in a metaphorical “night language,” he said.

Church members largely responded favorably to Dowd.

“We are the universe looking upon ourselves,” said Nancy Halgren, adding she agrees with Dowd’s belief that people are made from stardust.