Couple speak about evolution, religion

Press & Sun-Bulletin

By Brian Liberatore

BINGHAMTON -- Using the tools and tenor of an evangelical Christian, Michael Dowd teaches evolution as the foundation of religion.

Dowd and his wife, science writer Connie Barlow, who five years ago gave up their home to tour the country in a van preaching evolution, spoke Monday evening at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Riverside Drive in Binghamton.

Abandoning a worldview of evolution and religion as conflicting ideologies, Dowd preaches evolutionary history as an ultimate truth compatible to the world's religious traditions.

"It (evolution) is a story that includes all stories," Dowd told about 75 people. "We promote the marriage of science and religion for personal and planetary well-being."

Dowd, 48, attributes his transformation from a conservative pastor to an evangelical evolutionist to conversations with a Buddhist monk and an epiphany so profound he and his wife sold their house in Rockland County, bought a conversion van and made the road their home.

Their only permanent address is a Web site: The two stayed at the home of Binghamton University evolution professor and author David Sloan Wilson while in Binghamton.

"We'll probably live on the road the rest of our lives," Dowd said.

Departing from an antagonistic approach that pits religion against evolution, Dowd accepts as fact the scientific community's consensus: the earth is 13.7 billion years old, imploding stars gave birth to heavier atoms and humans descended from simpler life forms. Cultures, Dowd said, have ascribed anthropomorphic features to evolution and the "creative nature of the universe," through the years in the name of religion.

Using Darwin's theories, Dowd envisions a future where people and culture evolve past behavior that benefits few at the expense of many -- the current state of political and social affairs according to Dowd -- and finds a way of life that harmonizes humanity, technology and the environment.

"How can the epic of evolution be told so it inspires billions of human beings to want to manifest the vision?" Dowd said. "My life is devoted to these questions."