Evolution-Loving Evangelical Comes To Houston

Houston Press

by Olivia Flores Alvarez

It's been 200 years since the birth of Darwin, and 150 years since the publication of his book, On the Origin of Species, so we guess it's about time that religion and science stopped fighting and figured out some common ground.

The Reverend Michael Dowd, an ordained evangelical preacher, and his wife Connie Barlow, an atheist, are doing their part to make that happen. They travel the country with The Gospel of Evolution Roadshow (it's really just Dowd and his wife in a camper), preaching the marriage of science and faith, God and technology, and they've made it to Houston.

Dowd says you can't truly have one without the other and he's got a pretty good argument as to why.

"God's word is usually thought of as ancient text - what was revealed to shepherds and farmers and fishermen 2,000 years ago, something that was written on animal skins and preserved in clay pots," he tells Hair Balls. "Looking at that from a sacred-science-based perspective, from an evolution theology point of view, God's word is revealed to us by every fact that's discovered by science. Literally, every single discovery by science is a revelation of God, of reality. It's God revealing truth. That's a far more realistic than the idea that God would have chosen fishermen and scribes 2,000 years ago and whispered in their head and then they wrote down perfectly what was being dictated."

Sacred science? Evolution theology? What the hell? (Oops! We mean, "What the heck?")

"Some people criticize evolution for being just a theory, well, it's not just a theory. It's a fact. And it's not just a fact, it's theology. It's about God - God's will, God's word, God's ways. The theory of evolution is based on a mountain of factual evidence. But when I say it's theology, it's because it also strengthens and deepens our understanding of the divine, our understanding of God's word," says Dowd. "Without this world view, it's impossible to have an accurate understanding of God's nature or know what God's up to today. You're going to still be thinking that God did all the really cool stuff 2,000 years ago.

Typically, where people have found their sense of the holy, the sacred, the deeply meaningful, in religion. And that makes sense, because for 99% of human existence, answers to questions like "How did that ocean get there?" or "How did the moon get there?" have been answered by religion. All the big questions like "Why are we here?" and "How did we get here?" couldn't have possibly been answered in a factual, natural way prior to certain technologies like telescopes, microscopes, and computers being developed.

"What Connie and I are emphatic about is that the discoveries that science gives us, the understanding of nature of the universe and our place in it, that science gives us, is every bit as sacred, every bit as holy, every bit as meaningful as anything that religion offers. And, paradoxly, gives us a deeper, richer appreciation of our own religious traditions.

"Ed Wilson at Harvard said, 'The source of our problems is this: We have Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and God-like technology.' I'd add one thing: we have trivial notions of God. If we continue to think of God in a mythic way, like a supreme landlord who doesn't live here, like some creator who walked away once he was done, then we'll never understand religion or science."

Michael Dowd presents "Thank God for Evolution" at several area churches from February 8 to February 23. For information on his presentations, or to download a section of his book, Thank God for Evolution, go to www.thankgodforevolution.com.