'Thank God for Evolution'

The Express-Times

Author provides missing link in emotional debate over Darwin versus Intelligent Design by Tony Nauroth 

The title of Michael Dowd's new book is intriguing, the kind that raises eyebrows and creates chatter in the pews before Sunday services.

The author says it's an emotional issue that tears people apart.

But "Thank God for Evolution," in its attempt to marry Darwinism and Design, seems to bring both sides together in a love feast of ideas, although Dowd admits extremists are unlikely to embrace it. 

Matt Kerr, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Allentown is familiar with the conflict. He says the debate comes up frequently, especially as it relates to what's being taught in local Catholic schools.

"We teach that evolution and creationism are not in conflict, as long as God is responsible for evolution."

It sounds like a dog-chasing-its-tail argument, but that's the very idea explored in Dowd's book.

Going further, Kerr says, "If God is the trigger, then how you get to where you are now doesn't matter."

He also says Pope Benedict XVI has written opinions reflecting that position.

Technically, creationists believe in the literal meaning of the Book of Genesis, that God created the universe in six days, then rested on the seventh. Those who believe in intelligent design say only that God created the universe -- no time frame.

Dowd, who calls himself an "evolutionary evangelist," writes, "Americans everywhere are engaging in a life-changing new conversation about Creation. The marriage of science and religion builds bridges and restores hope.

"People across the religious and philosophical spectrum are waking up to the fact that cosmic, biological and human history is our shared sacred epic, our common creation story."

The 'singularity'

One local pastor hasn't read the book yet, but says he will. After all, he shares the author's name.

"I don't think I wrote a book," laughs the Rev. Michael Dowd, pastor of First United Church of Christ of Easton, when told of the author's name.

"Every minister is asked about the issue at one time or another," Pastor Dowd says. "I tell them I don't necessarily see the two sides in conflict.

"We talk rather blithely about the big bang theory," he says, "that all creation was within an infinitesimal 'singularity.' "

Dowd, who also serves as vice president of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, uses such terms because he says he's had an interest in astronomy since he was 5 or 6 years old, when he lived in New York City and was regularly taken to the Haydn Planetarium in Central Park.

"My orientation was always in science," he says.

The idea of all creation stuffed into a single point -- the singularity -- 13.5 billion years ago boggles the mind.

"Even scientists would have to accept it as an article of faith," he says, noting "Human beings attempt to understand the un-understandable."

He adds instead that it's the Bible that helps man search for his place in the universe and his relationship to God.

"I don't think people should look at evolution as a faith crisis. I think they can be integrated," he says.

Which is exactly what Michael Dowd, the author, strives for in his book.

Angels, demons and Dowd

Another book, released as a prequel to the highly successful "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown, explores an extreme view held by a secret science-based society bent on destroying Vatican City as penance for the inroads faith had made in the world.

"Angels and Demons" is full of suspense, with the murders of four cardinals and a futuristic bomb threatening to atomize the Vatican.

The hero, a priest whose scientific study was beginning to show that religion and science could coexist, is the ultimate hero murdered before the reader even reaches the first page of Brown's book.

His is the same kind of illumination Dowd, the author, offers in "Thank God for Evolution!"

In promoting his book, Dowd says, "The war is over!"