Michael Dowd

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Michael Dowd
Born (1958-11-19) November 19, 1958 (age 55)
Fields Big History, Religious Naturalism, traveling speaker
Alma mater MDiv – Palmer Seminary, BA - Evangel University
Known for Epic of Evolution, Evolutionary Christianity
Influences Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Loyal Rue, David Sloan Wilson David Christian

Michael Dowd (born November 19, 1958) is an American Progressive Christian minister, author, and eco-theologian known as an advocate of Big History, Religious Naturalism, and the Epic of Evolution.[1][2]

His evangelizing to over 1,800 audiences starting in April 2002 provided material for Thank God for Evolution in 2008. This book is noteworthy for its breadth and depth of endorsements; it includes six Nobel Prize-winning scientists.[3] On April 2, 2009, Dowd at the United Nations addressed the lack of an evolutionary worldview which he maintains has resulted in a global integrity crisis. Overcoming this crisis, he says, requires a deep-time view of human nature, values and social systems.[4][5] He maintains a Christian perspective and accepts the theory of evolution.

Dowd expanded his outreach program with the founding of EvolutionaryChristianity.com in 2010. Thirty-eight religious leaders from diverse backgrounds joined him in an audio seminar introduction.[6] In spite of their dissimilar religious orientations and backgrounds, they hold many perspectives in common; such as valuing Big History (deep time), a global ethos, and realistic expectations grounded in an understanding of scientific (Evidence of common descent), historical (History of the world), and cross-cultural facts (cultural evolution) as "divine communication". This program has drawn both rebuttals and praise from Christian sources.[7][8][9]

Biography[edit]

Dowd, raised Roman Catholic, graduated from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri summa cum laude receiving a B.A. in philosophy and biblical studies. He went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree with honors at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Seminary) in Philadelphia. Dowd was ordained as a United Church of Christ minister and served as a congregational minister for nine years in churches in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Michigan.[10]

Conversion to Christianity[edit]

Mike Dowd became a Born-Again believer in 1978 after receiving an Article 15 from his commander for smoking Marijuana and being demoted to private. During this time he received Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He back-slid according to his own admission and was punched by a fellow soldier who he challenged to smack him if he ever drank again. He ended up in the hospital with a broken jaw and promised to serve God from that time forward. During the remainder of his military service he ofter wore a jacket with "I Love Jesus" on the back and proclaimed the Gospel. He even traveled around Israel proclaiming the Gospel. He was greatly influenced by the writings and music of the late Keith Green and promised to serve Jesus the rest of his life.

During this time he allied with Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Unitarian Universalist, and New Thought leaders across America on environmental, peace, and justice issues.[11] In 1995 he worked on social and environmental issues that were being considered by Congress.[12] He was Religious Organizer for the Washington D.C. based National Environmental Trust.[12] From 1997 to 2000 he headed The Portland Sustainable Lifestyle Campaign, in Portland, Oregon, the first government-funded program designed to produce large-scale voluntary citizen behavior change along stewardship lines in the United States.[12] In 2000 and 2001 he served as Campaign Manager of Global Action Plan's EcoTeam and Livable Neighborhood Programs in Rockland County, New York.[12]

He became an itinerant "evolutionary evangelist" in 2002.[13][14] Dowd and his wife Connie Barlow travel North America, teaching their "Gospel of Evolution."[15] They present their case for "the marriage of religion and science" at events sponsored by a diverse group of denominations, including Christian, Unitarian Universalist, Unity Church, Free Thinkers, Religious Science, secular humanism and Religious Naturalists venues.[16] Barlow is a writer/lecturer with 4 published works. Together they travel the continent by van as nomads, offering a view of evolutionary theology and relating their Great Story (Epic of Evolution) to both secular and religious audiences. Their message embraces both science and religion, combining her scientific humanism with his evolutionary theism, her soft-spoken manner with his zealous preaching style. They draw in Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and Christians; theists and atheists; scientists and philosophers.[17]

Philosophy and theology[edit]

Dowd was a former young earth creationist. He considers himself to be a Pentecostal Evangelical naturalist or evolutionary Christian minister.[18][19] Dowd describes himself as having been "born again" while serving in the United States Army in Germany in 1979, and for the next three years living within a fundamentalist culture that was strongly opposed to evolution. Thereafter he came under a more eclectic range of religious influences (including a friendship with a "Buddhist-Christian" former Trappist monk, Tobias Meeker), that opened him up to first intellectual, and then spiritual, acceptance of evolution.[20]

Dowd is pluralistic in his ministry. He teaches that humanity will never see an end to the science and religion war until religious leaders do their part and preach evolution enthusiastically from the pulpit. He recommends the Clergy Letter Project as a resource for clergy to help do this.[21][page needed] Dowd promotes the Epic of Evolution as a sacred story and Religious Naturalism as his own religious orientation.. It addresses both objective truth and subjective meaning answering questions in ways that are both religiously and scientifically accurate.[22] He claims that science can be interpreted in ways that nourish and inspire people like traditional religious stories do.[23]

Colleen Engel-Brown, former pastor at a First Unity Church believes Dowd has a "very provoking message". Accepting evolution as plausible "disturbs those who take the Bible literally". [24] Even the Dowd vehicle provokes as it displays two fishes kissing with the labels "Jesus" and "Darwin".[25] His message of evolutionary theology attaches a lot of attention as a subject that opens up the debate on the creation-evolution controversy. Both sides of this debate have been at it for a century and a half. Dowd attempts to serve as a pacifier by showing people that celebrating Big History and interpreting it meaningfully will bring them nearer to spiritual fulfillment.[26][27]

By utilizing traditional religious methods, Dowd invites "people to think about religion in new ways". Stephen Uhl, a former Catholic priest-become humanist psychologist, writes that Dowd does a great job of expanding minds beyond sectarian belief systems and entertains while doing it.[28]

Criticism[edit]

Many in the Christian community reject Rev. Dowds assertion that Christianity has evolved to change to suit the whims of the 21st Century and insist that Rev. Dowd has rejected biblical Christianity to create his own form of hybrid religion that rejects the traditional beliefs like, Heaven and Hell, Sin, the New Birth and resurrection.

Works[edit]

Dowd's Earthspirit: A Handbook for Nurturing an Ecological Christianity (1991, 23 publications) was inspired by the writings of cultural historian Thomas Berry, cosmologist Brian Swimme, and deep ecologist Joanna Macy.[29] His preachings since 2002 provided material for Thank God for Evolution (2008, influences – Thomas Berry, David Sloan Wilson and others.[30]) Its endorsements includes six Nobel Prize-winning scientists - Craig Mello, John C. Mather, Thomas C. Schelling, Frank Wilczek, Lee Hartwell and Charles Townes.[3][31][32] It has also gotten favorable reviews[33][34][35] and compliments from a host of religious leaders, scientists and cultural icons.[36][37] Starting in the spring of 2008, Professor Hogue at the Meadville Lombard Theological School was using Dowd’s book in his course on theology and science.[38] Penguin purchased the worldwide rights to it in mid-2008.[39]

  1. * Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World -Viking Adult (June 19, 2008), ISBN 0-670-02045-1
  2. * Earthspirit: A Handbook for Nurturing an Ecological Christianity, - 23 Pubns, (April 1991), ISBN 0-89622-479-1
  3. * THE MEANING OF LIFE IN THE 1990s: An Ecological, Christian Perspective [17]
  4. * Study Guide - Thank God for Evolution, 4 hr DVD [18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://thankgodforevolution.com/the-author Religious Naturalism
  2. ^ http://evolutionarytimes.org/files/31da2531aacad3fc7a42c4c8656acdde-4.php Interview - New Hampshire Public Television
  3. ^ a b Endorsements:[1], [2], (Thank God for Evolution frontispiece)
  4. ^ http://evolutionarytimes.org/files/31da2531aacad3fc7a42c4c8656acdde-4.php
  5. ^ EVOLUTION AND THE GLOBAL INTEGRITY CRISIS - The Values Caucus at The United Nations, April 2, 2009 [3] retrieved 4-2-09
  6. ^ http://evolutionarychristianity.com/blog/our-diversity/
  7. ^ http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/2011/03/evolutionary-christianity.html
  8. ^ http://www.religioustolerance.org/chrevol.htm
  9. ^ http://evolutionarychristianity.com/blog/audio-downloads/ Dowd – Evidence as Divine Communication
  10. ^ The Making of an Evolutionary Evangelist [4] retrieved 2009-1-29
  11. ^ EnlightenNext Magazine [5] retrieved 2009-1-29
  12. ^ a b c d Michael Dowd:The Author
  13. ^ Science Meets Religion ... Amicably?
  14. ^ America’s evolutionary Evangelist Michael Dowd in Sedona on Feb 7
  15. ^ Leslie Palma-Simoncek (2008-08-10). "Author to talk on 'Gospel of Evolution'". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2008-09-04. [dead link]
  16. ^ Past Speaking Itinerary of Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow
  17. ^ uuworld.org article [6] retrieved 2009-1-29
  18. ^ An Evangelical Pentecostal Naturalist?! [7] retrieved 2-05-12
  19. ^ An Evangelical Pentecostal Naturalist?! [8] retrieved 2012-2-05
  20. ^ Dowd, Michael (2008). Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World. Viking Adult. pp. 1–6. ISBN 0-670-02045-1. 
  21. ^ Evolutionary Evangelist
  22. ^ Reasons Why Nothing Matters More Than What We Think About Evolution
  23. ^ A Conversation with Rev. Michael Dowd, Free Inquiry, Dec. 2008, page 11, Vol.29 No.1
  24. ^ Colleen Engel-Brown comment [9] retrieved 2-24-09
  25. ^ Lindsay Melvin - Evolution evangelist to speak at Church of River, Friday, July 25, 2008 [10] retrieved 2-24-09
  26. ^ Outside.in - Memphis, Friday, July 25, 2008
  27. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 17, 2009 - Finding My Religion
  28. ^ Stephen Uhl, Author Imagine NO Superstition http://imaginenosuperstition.com/ [11]
  29. ^ EnlightenNext Magazine [12] retrieved 2009-1-29
  30. ^ The Global Spiral [13] retrieved 2009-1-29
  31. ^ "Thank God for Evolution/The Author". Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  32. ^ Endorsements
  33. ^ Reviewer comments
  34. ^ Praise for Thank God for Evolution
  35. ^ Good Reads [14] retrieved 3-07-09
  36. ^ Thank God for Evolution frontispiece and [15] retrieved 2009-1-30
  37. ^ Endorsements [16] retrieved 2009-1-29
  38. ^ Theology and the Science: Varieties of Religious Naturalism retrieved 3-07-09
  39. ^ John Minervini, Willamette Week, April 9, 2008

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]