Thank “God” for Evolution?!?!

Pardon the brief interlude . . .

I was very excited when I came across this article yesterday. Those who have traveled the path that I’m currently on would surely get pumped over sound bytes like:

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

I even thought that he might favor preterist or postmillennial eschatology:

“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.”

The article, for the most part, sounded quite encouraging. When I visited the Rev. Michael Dowd’s website and began surfing some of the video clips, I began to grow wary. Could I be misunderstanding who the Rev. Dowd believes God to be? I figured I would hold off judgment until I read his book, Thank God for Evolution! How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World, a .pdf version of which he is offering for free from his website. (The website will show it as out of stock; simply request to be emailed when it arrives and await several emails that send you back to the website to provide contact information as well as the webpage from which you can download the file.)

My suspicions appeared to be confirmed when I skimmed the several pages of endorsements beyond those of the Nobel laureates quoted first: pastors from the Unity Church of Christianity, the Unitarian Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Church; an individual from the Association of Global New Thought; new-agers Matthew Fox and Barbara Marx Hubbard (no relation to L. Ron Hubbard but just as New-Agey); and the list goes on . . .

We’re certainly not off to a good start. I figured that the best place to start skimming the book would be to search for the name of Jesus:

“The core teachings of Christianity will remain foundational. The marvels of public revelation will not unseat them. Jesus as ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ will still be central in an evolutionary form of Christianity, just as the backbone of our common ancestor who swam in the sea more than 400 million years ago is still within us, providing vital support. Moreover, Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” will be universalized.” (p. 67)

“Simply, get that you are part of the Whole, and then commit to living in deep integrity—and follow through with it. By being and doing this you will effortlessly express your creativity, take responsibility for your life and your legacy, and listen to your heart for guidance from the source of your existence. You will naturally love Reality (God) with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. You will love your neighbor as yourself. And, yes, this is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ that the early Christian gospels portray Jesus the Christ incarnating.” (p. 112)

“Christian leaders and laity alike have long recognized that it is not beliefs about Jesus that will save Christians. It is, rather, faith in him (i.e., trust in the values he incarnated, the integrity he enfleshed). The key to salvation is committing to Christ-like integrity. Being ‘in Christ’ and being ‘in evolutionary integrity’ (or, deep integrity) are different ways of saying essentially the same thing.” (p. 169)

“As a creaTHEIST, I choose to regard as no coincidence that the mythic stories of Jesus the Christ so well match what we now know both experientially and experimentally through the public revelations of science. ‘Getting right with God,’ ‘coming home to Reality,’ ‘abiding in Christ,’ and ‘growing in evolutionary integrity’ are different ways of saying the same thing.” (p. 179)

All I can say is that this will be an interesting read . . .

11 Comments

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11 Responses to Thank “God” for Evolution?!?!

  1. I just noticed the dedication page, which reads:

    “I dedicate this book to the glory of God.*”

    Yes, the asterisk is supposed to be there. At the bottom of the page is the following:

    *Not any “God” we may think about, speak about, believe in, or deny, but the one true God we all know and experience.

    Hmmmmmmm . . .

  2. Hi Mike,
    You are right to be wary. When Dowd states:


    “Christian leaders and laity alike have long recognized that it is not beliefs about Jesus that will save Christians. It is, rather, faith in him

    so far so good, but the punchline turns it 180 degrees wrong


    (i.e., trust in the values he incarnated, the integrity he enfleshed).

    For those of us that believe that there is no conflict between orthodox Christianity (indeed an Evangelical expression of orthodox Christianity) and biological evolution, Dowd is not helping our cause. Most evangelicals will rightly conclude that Dowd is off base but unfortunatley, may also conclude (wrongly) that Dowd’s view of Christianity (or something like it) is necessiated by an acceptance of biological evolution.

    Check out Michael Spencer’s internet monk for an excellent review of the book. See:
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/review-thank-god-for-evolution-by-michael-dowd

  3. Steve,

    Thanks for the link to the outstanding review! Michael Spencer has some good things to say about the book (bad theology notwithstanding), so I might give it my time after all.

    I have an opportunity to see him in Big Sur this April, just before I start my Farsi language training. Meeting him in person could be interesting.

    I see what you’re saying about Rev. Dowd not helping our cause. I’d be curious to know how much of an impact he’s having.

  4. I hope this guy’s not as loopy as this little sample sounds. TEs already get such a bum rap for being “liberals”, and “we don’t need any characters around to give the joint atmosphere.”

  5. Here’s a quote from Rev. Dowd’s latest post, Evolutionary Morality and Ethics, at http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/blog:

    “The single greatest advantage that an evolutionary worldview has over traditional, flat-earth worldviews is that evolution provides a firmer foundation for godly ethics and morality, individually and collectively, than can ethical systems based on the Bible, Qur’an, or any other ancient writings alone.”

    If that isn’t incompatible with the traditional Christian faith, I don’t know what is.

  6. Anonymous

    Hi! I just happened upon your blog since I just learned about this guy and I pretty much feel the same way you do.

    I was intrigued at first only to realize, after exploring his website and listening to some of his audio messages, that Mr. Dowd’s theology has very little in common with Christian orthodoxy.

    For example, his whole notion of God as some kind of invisible, non-rational “force” indistinguishable from reality sounds very much like panentheism (that God is a bundle of potential energy that actualizes itself in the material universe). Neither the Bible nor any of the historic creeds depict God in that way.

  7. Anonymous

    I happened to read the postings in the blog wondering how the logical men will respond back the ambiguity this guy performs. So I start…
    Charles Darwin himself had also a religious education just like the men who wrote book. And despite that, he denied that everything in the universe was created by God. This act must never be confused with courage, self-expression or knowledge. This is just a pshychological rejection of accepting a fact you know but you do not belive fearing that it will hurt your ego and that you’ll have to think about death, resurrection and that you’ll be judged for your deeds in your life. Death is the most scientific fact in life. We see people dying every minute. There is no book of rule saying that one can only die if he is in his sixties. Death is the nearest future for all of us. We never know what will happen in a moment. So it is something that one should definitely confront and prepare.
    Allah exists… He exists in everything, in every atomic particle, in a single molecule, in the design of bird wings, in every single balance that makes life possible on Earth. Denying His Existence does not change the fact that He exists. But accepting it does change a thing for those who accepts and sincerely believes in.
    Best Regards

  8. Anon,

    Thanks for your post. I’ve noticed a number of Islamic websites supporting evolution. I’m curious to know why that is …

    Another question. You wrote, Allah exists… He exists in everything, in every atomic particle, in a single molecule, in the design of bird wings, in every single balance that makes life possible on Earth.

    Is this not panentheism, the belief that God is in everything (as opposed to pantheism, the belief that God is everything)? From what I understand of mainstream Islamic theology, Allah is quite distinct from His creation. Then again, I do know that certain Sufi sects adopt a panentheistic approach. Might you be Ismāʿīlī or Sufi?

  9. People on this blog thread seem to believe that there is one Christian orthodoxy. It seems to reflect quite the limited worldview, as the “orthodoxy” claimed here smacks of western and modern evangelical Christian thought, not some universal traditional thought. There is no one universal Christianity. A very cursory glance at worldwide historic Christian theologies will show that.

  10. Virginia,

    People on this blog thread seem to believe that there is one Christian orthodoxy. It seems to reflect quite the limited worldview, as the “orthodoxy” claimed here smacks of western and modern evangelical Christian thought, not some universal traditional thought.

    All due respect, much of what I and others say on my blog smacks of heresy to most modern evangelical Christians, as I am (1) an evolutionist, (2) a denier of strict biblical inerrancy, and (3) a preterist who denies a future return of Christ. Cutting me a little slack would be nice. 😉

    There is no one universal Christianity. A very cursory glance at worldwide historic Christian theologies will show that.

    This is true, but all that might mean is that Christianity can’t get its doctrinal act together. At the same time, it doesn’t necessarily require one to adopt some form of Christian universalism. What is your definition of “universal traditional thought”?

  11. Anonymous

    I haven't read thank god for Evolution, but I've seen the author's videos. Whether we agree or disagree with his argument, I see God in Nature– its no coincidence that most of our body is made of water and most of our Earth is filled with water. Most of our DNA, I think, over ninety percent, is identical. When you consider the number of calendars we've had in history, what's a day to God? For me, the Bible is authoritative though I am not a literalist. I do believe Jesus will come again soon! Maybe we are slowly spiritually evolving to this point– recognizing the relationship between our Creator and how he's shown us miracles no one else has seen– the moon, our solar system? If anything, my appreciation and gratitude for god's love and grace is even stronger! We are only now beginning to see the gifts he's given us!

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