North America — With new polls showing Americans as deeply divided as ever over the origins of life, the Rev. Michael Dowd, backed by a lineup of five Nobel laureates and other luminaries, exclaims, ?The war is over!? His new book, ?Thank God for Evolution!,? due out this November from Council Oak Books, proposes a marriage of science and religion that is already being celebrated on both sides of the debate.
?Americans everywhere are engaging in a life-changing new conversation about Creation,? says author and evolutionary evangelist Michael Dowd.? My latest book, ?Thank God for Evolution!,? proclaims a gospel that is billions of years old. The marriage of science and religion builds bridges and restores hope, realistic hope, individually and collectively. 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. I even know atheists who now freely use the ?G? word!?
?Thank God for Evolution!? will be available for sale in November from major booksellers nationwide and as a free download from ThankGodForEvolution.com, home of the book?s companion blog tracking Rev. Dowd?s mobile ministry.
About the book
?Thank God For Evolution!: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World? is a breakthrough book that offers a long-awaited resolution to the divisive debate that has polarized and paralyzed public discourse on evolution for decades. The book is based on presentations that Rev. Dowd and his wife Connie Barlow, an acclaimed science writer, have shared with audiences across America, from Baptists to Buddhists. Throughout its 370 pages of ?sacred science? are dozens of personal accounts of evolutionary epiphanies, like a Colorado Springs atheist who exclaimed during Rev. Dowd?s presentation, ?Finally, a God that makes sense!?
Part 1, The Holy Trajectory of Evolution, presents a big-picture, science-based understanding of ?deep time,? which reveals that evolution is not the meaningless, mechanistic process that has been rightfully rejected by many religious traditions. Part 2, titled Reality Is Speaking, introduces helpful new language, such as ?public and private revelation? and ?day and night language?, to open channels of communication between embattled religious and scientific fundamentalists. Inspired by scientific discoveries such as the deep space images sent back by NASA?s Hubble Space Telescope, Rev. Dowd asserts that ?facts are God?s native tongue? and ?science is revelatory.? He invites readers to see science as ?a holy endeavor, a sacred enterprise.?
Part 3, titled The Gospel According to Evolution, looks at the human condition from a meaningful evolutionary worldview. It examines traditional religious concepts like ?original sin? and ?personal salvation? from the perspective of what we now know about human instincts from evolutionary brain science and evolutionary psychology. Grounded in current best science, Rev. Dowd offers practical new pathways for understanding the religious diversity of human beliefs, and for improving human behavior. Part 4, titled Evolutionary Spirituality, presents universally applicable ?integrity practices? that breathe new life into core values at the heart of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and other religions.
The book closes with a sobering assessment of the major challenges facing humanity in the next 250 years and offers a realistic and inspiring vision beyond sustainability, an evolutionary revival of passion and purpose in service to life. Dowd sees this revival beginning as we become increasingly conscious of the process of evolution and align the natural self-interest of individuals and institutions with the wellbeing of planet as a whole.
About the author
Rev. Michael Dowd, a former anti-evolution fundamentalist/young-Earth creationist, is today a non-denominational Christian minister best known as ?America?s Evolutionary Evangelist.?
Profoundly shaken by 9/11, Rev. Dowd and his wife Connie Barlow gave away all of their worldly possessions and set out on permanent traveling ministry to share a sacred, science-based telling of the 14-billion year epic of evolution with as many people as possible. Living their message, which embraces theists, atheists, and everyone else, the couple embodies a marriage of science and religion: Michael, a ?born-again Christian evolutionary,? and Connie, a ?religious naturalist? who considers herself a ?classic left-brain evolutionary humanist.?
Living out of a large white Dodge Sprinter van named ?Angel,? adorned with the popular symbols of the Jesus and Darwin fish kissing, the couple have continuously crisscrossed the country since 2001. They have spoken in more than 500 churches, convents, monasteries and spiritual centers, to groups of Roman Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Unitarians, Quakers, Mennonites, Buddhists, and more. Visiting a new town every week or two, the husband-and-wife team are frequently invited to present the discoveries of science in inspiring ways in secular settings, such as public schools, colleges, universities, libraries, nature centers, and even an occasional zoo.
?There was a time when I believed evolution was of the devil,? confesses Dowd. ?I passed out religious tracts promoting the idea that planet Earth was no more than 6,000 years old, and that if you believed otherwise, you were in danger of going to hell. Today, I share the good news that an empirical science-based story of an emerging Cosmos and the Bible are not in conflict.?
Rev. Dowd graduated summa cum laude from Evangel University, with a B.A. in Biblical Studies and Philosophy. He also graduated with honors from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary) with a Master of Divinity degree.
From the mid-1980s to mid-1990s Rev. Dowd served as a congregational minister, pastoring churches in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio. He served as Religious Organizer for the Washington, D.C.-based National Environmental Trust for one year and then headed the Portland Sustainable Lifestyle Campaign, the first government funded program in the United States designed to produce large-scale voluntary citizen behavior change along stewardship lines. He continued this work as campaign manager of Global Action Plan?s EcoTeam and Livable Neighborhood Programs in Rockland County, New York, and served briefly on the board of the North American Coalition on Christianity and Ecology (now The Network Alliance of Congregations Caring for the Earth).
Rev. Dowd?s first book, ?EarthSpirit: A Handbook for Nurturing an Ecological Christianity? (Twenty-Third Publications) encouraged believers to look beyond ?End Times? mythology long before the concept of ?Creation care? entered the Christian discussion on global warming.
Connie Barlow?s most recent book, ?The Ghosts of Evolution,? (Basic Books) was Amazon.com?s #1 recommended science book for several months when it was published in 2001. Her previous books, ?Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science? (Copernicus Books), ?Evolution Extended: Biological Debates on the Meaning of Life? (MIT Press), and ?From Gaia to Selfish Genes: Selected Writings in the Life Sciences? (MIT Press) all explore the nexus of science, spirit and meaning.
?My passion is sharing ways in which an understanding of the evolutionary and ecological sciences can enhance our communion with the natural world and with each other,? states Barlow. ?Michael?s new book, ?Thank God For Evolution!,? incorporates our previous work and takes it to a whole new level, and with far wider appeal.?
As with climate change, there is now a near unanimous scientific consensus that evolution is a known natural process, an observable fact of life evident at levels of reality ranging from microbiology to supernovas. ?Intelligent design? is a term that first appeared in 1989, two years after teaching ?Biblical creationism? in public schools was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Its definition differs from ?Biblical creationism? in that it is not tied to a literal interpretation of the biblical book of Genesis. ?Creation care? is a term introduced in the 1990?s and popularized as the onset of global warming became undeniable. Unlike ?creationism? and ?intelligent design?–both belief-based approaches skeptical of scientific findings–?evolutionary theology? as a worldview and ?evolutionary spirituality? as a personal practice are grounded in our best and most current scientific understandings our evolving Universe. As Rev Dowd explains, ?evolutionary spirituality? is being in ?right relationship with reality.?
Public opinion on evolution
In a June 2007 USA Today/Gallup Poll, 66% of Americans said that ?creationism,? defined by the survey as ?the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years,? was ?probably true? (27%) or ?definitely true? (39%). The same survey found that 30% believe that ?God guided? evolution while 13% said ?God had no part? in evolution. In a March 2007 Newsweek Poll, 48% of Americans said that ?God created humans in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.? In an August 2005 Gallup poll, 58% of the public said that creationism was definitely or probably true as an explanation for the origin and development of life. In 2004, Gallup also found that 34% of Americans believed the Bible should be taken literally ?word for word?.