Rev. Michael Dowd on CNN

Lou Dobbs Tonight

The following is a transcript of Rev. Dowd's appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight.

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SYLVESTER: There is a growing movement that critics say will reintroduce intelligence design or creationism in our schools, the focus of concern now, so-called "Academic Freedom bills." Opponents of these bills say they are just back door attempts to bring religion into the classroom. Bill Tucker has our report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The basic working knowledge right now of Evolutionary theory...

BILL TUCKER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Teaching the concept of Intelligent Design as biological theory, explaining life on earth, was banned in schools by a federal judge in Dover, Pennsylvania in 2005. The court found Intelligent Design to be philosophical, a religious concept, not scientific theory. The Discovery Institute continues to actively support Intelligent Design. And the institute also actively supports so-called "Academic Freedom" bills, to protect instructors who, it says, teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of Evolutionary theory.

JOHN WEST, DISCOVERY INSTITUTE: We think we should learn more about Evolution in fact, I'm most concerned I think that the Evolution education in this country is dumbed down.

TUCKER: The language of the Academic Freedom bill is now being considered in six states even includes a clause that says, "Nothing in this act shall be construed as promoting any religious doctrine." Discovery officials adamantly deny that they are trying to sneak religion into the science class. But, then they don't consider Intelligent Design a religious concept, they call it a scientific theory and they consider Evolution flawed science. So, Intelligent Design becomes an answer.

Fundamentally, it's a clash of Creationism versus Evolution, one that Evangelist, Michael Dowd, says in his book "Thank God for Evolution" is unnecessary, but not surprising.

MICHAEL DOWD, AUTHOR: I don't think we're going to see an end to the science/religion war, nor an end to the conservatives trying to keep Evolution away from their children until people -- Christians especially, are exposed to a sacred meaningful, inspiring way of thinking about Evolution.

TUCKER: The lawyer who led and won the fight to ban Intelligent Design from science classes puts it in less prosayic terms.

WITOLD WALCZAK, ACLU: The legislators can pass all the bills they want. It's the school districts that are going to foot the bill for litigation when they have some teachers who introduce religious concepts under the guise of science.

TUCKER: In Texas, they may be about to test that legal theory.

Seven of the 15 members of the Texas state Board of Education subscribe to the theory of Intelligent Desire, just one vote shy of a majority. And that's important because what happens in Texas doesn't stay in Texas, at least regarding textbooks. The state is the largest buyer of school textbooks, so what Texas wants, most of the rest of us get.

Bill Tucker, CNN, New York.


SYLVESTER: The Texas Education Board will decide this summer whether the strengths and weaknesses of Evolution should be taught in schools, and the Texas decision could impact other states as well.

Now there are those who believe there is a link between Evolution and Creationism. The Reverend Michael Dowd is at the forefront of that movement. He is the author of the book "Thank God for Evolution" and Michael Dowd joins me now.

Thank you very much for coming here. Now, in your book, you say this idea that science and religion cannot only coexist, but Creation and Evolution can coexist, how so? And you also say something really interesting -- the facts are God's native tongue. What do you mean by this?

DOWD: There's a huge body of people in the middle, it's the millions in the middle who are not being reported on. If you just pay attention to mainstream media, what you get is the idea that there's just the new atheist on the one end, there's the young earth Creationist and Intelligent Design folks on the other. But, if you ask most Americans, do they see a conflict between science and religion, they'd say no. in fact, I'd love you to do a poll on that one, because there's so many people, there's 11,000 clergy, for example, that have signed the clergy letter -- it's called the Clergy Letter Project and they signed the letter saying they see no conflict between a mainstream scientific understanding of Evolution and their faith.

SYLVESTER: How do you explain it, though? I mean, most people present it as an either/or, it's either Creation or Evolution. How do you bridge the two?

DOWD: Well, because it can be understood as 14 Billion year, of grace and creativity. In other words, we can take the same science and interpret it meaningfully. In fact, in the clip, one of the things that I pointed out there that I think is the truth is that we're going to continue to see conservatives reject Evolution and fight against it in schools until it's been interpreted meaningfully for them and it's not right now. Most conservatives have only been exposed to a way of thinking about Evolution that's meaningless, chance, purposeless, directionless, godless process, and of course they're not going to accept that. SYLVESTER: So, you were a minister, so when you go around country and you are talking to different religious groups, how do you tell them, hey, this makes sense?

DOWD: Well, my wife is a science writer and we've been, for six years traveling on the road...

SYLVESTER: Your wife is also an atheist, isn't she, she's not just a science writer, she's also an atheist?

DOWD: Well, if what you mean by atheist is a big daddy in the sky, the yes, she's an atheist, she doesn't believe in that kind of God. But, the way we talk about it in terms of this Evolution theology, and Evolution theology is this is kind of Religion 2.0, it's the place in the middle where most Americans are.

Now, they solve that conflict differently. For example, Francis Collins wrote a best-selling book. He solves it that there are so many different people that working in Theistic Evolution or Religious Naturalism, these movements that see that they cannot only not conflict, but they can actually be mutually enriching, that science can enrich ones faith, Evolution can deepen one's faith.

SYLVESTER: You know, yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution and you are a reverend. I know that you said there was one point in your life where you said that Darwin -- you essentially dismissed him as the devil. So, how did you go from there to where you are today?

DOWD: I was a student at Evangel College, it's now called Evangel University, but it's affiliated with the Assemblies of god in Springfield, Missouri and they teach Evolution, there. I didn't know that at most Evangelical colleges and seminaries teach Evolution. Well, when I discovered that, I walked out of class. And it was only after I really came to see that Evolution could be understood in a, to use religious language, a god-glorifying, sacred, meaningful way, in a way that inspired people to greater compassion, love, integrity. And again, most people have not been exposed to a way of thinking about Evolution like that, that's why I wrote my book "Thank God for Evolution."

SYLVESTER: We only have about 30 seconds, but really quickly, with the debate that's going on, what do you make of that?

DOWD: I think it makes complete sense. I feel -- my heart goes out to conservatives that feel threatened that their kids are going to go to hell if they accept an Evolutionary world view. It's, of course, I don't think -- it's not the case. Evolution can strengthen their faith. But again, they have not been exposed to that way of thinking, yet. And I think until we do, until churches preach and teach Evolution sacredly, meaningfully, inspiringly, I think we're going to continue to see this battle.

SYLVESTER: So you mean, you're really saying that there's some middle ground, here.

DOWD: More than middle ground. I think Evolution can actually broaden and deepen and strengthen religious faith.

SYLVESTER: OK, Michael Dowd, adding to the discourse, your book, the "Thank God for Evolution," we certainly appreciate it. Thank you very much for your time.

DOWD: Thank you, Lisa.