Former creationist preaches gospel of evolution

Austin American-Statesman

Preacher travels country urging all to embrace science

By Eileen E. Flynn

The Rev. Michael Dowd gave up a permanent home to travel the country spreading his gospel in the hope of reconciling disparate beliefs. But the former pastor's gospel may shock many Christians.

Dowd preaches "evolution theology," a view that promotes evolutionary science and God as the ultimate reality.

In Dowd's mind, you can have Darwin and the divine. 

Dowd is so committed to spreading his message that he offers his book — "Thank God for Evolution! How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World" — as a free download on his Web site.

The presentations that he and his wife give at churches and other venues are also free. But DVD and book sales help finance their ministry.

For more than five years, Dowd, 49, and his wife, Connie Barlow, a science writer, have traveled the country in a high-top van that they named Angel and asked audiences from many backgrounds to consider evolution theology.

Their work has drawn praise from Nobel Prize-winning scientists.

The couple will speak at 9:45 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover Ave.

"We don't try to show evangelicals or young earth creationists or intelligent design people that we're right and they're wrong," Dowd said. "Evolution gives me a bigger God, an undeniably real God."

Dowd believes that God's revelations didn't stop in biblical times but continued in the form of scientific discovery, a worldview that he thinks is important as public schools grapple with how to teach evolution, Americans choose a new president, and the world faces environmental threats.

"If somebody believes that Jesus, the cosmic janitor, is going to return on a cloud and clean up the mess we made, they're more likely to have a less responsible way of thinking about the future and handing on a healthy, sustainable world," Dowd said.

Dowd said that booking his talks at Unitarian churches is easier because of the denomination's liberal theology but that he wants to spend more time this year talking to evangelical Christians who either grudgingly accept evolution or aggressively try to dismiss it as incompatible with Scripture.

Dowd said he understands the fear of allowing science to trump faith because he was once a biblical literalist who believed that the Earth was 6,000 years old

Over the years, though, he said, a Passionist priest led him to find a more powerful narrative of God and discover a "God-glorifying, Christ-edifying view of evolution."