Monday, January 7, 2008

The future of our planet and humanity may depend on a unique view of science and religion

Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fayetteville
901 W Cleveland St Fayetteville, AR 72701
Wednesday January 9, 2008
Connie at 6-6:45pm; Michael at 7-9pm

Fayetteville will have the honor of hosting these inspired speakers for a one-evening appearance on Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at the UUFF Sanctuary. Connie Barlow, who has a special interest in children's education, will speak and lead a sing-along that adults and children alike will enjoy from 6pm-6:45pm. Michael will speak at 7p.m. Childcare is provided. The entire community is invited to attend one or both presentations. Light refreshments will be provided. Dowd and Barlow will have books and DVDs available.


I already know about evolution. Why would I want to attend this?” you may be asking yourself....

"It matters what we think about evolution. Indeed, for many issues - personal, political, and planetary - nothing matters more. Until we take into our lives insights born of evolutionary psychology and brain science, for example, we’ll fail to appreciate why we and our loved ones have such a hard time breaking free from habits and behaviors that don’t serve us, whether we’re religious or not, and why our intimate relationships can be so challenging.

Until we recognize billions - not just thousands - of years of grace and guidance, we’ll remain stuck with abstract and trivial notions of God and unnatural and competitive understandings of religion.

And until we learn to see through what I call “sacred deep-time eyes”, atheists and fundamentalists will continue to blame each other for the world’s ills, liberals and conservatives will keep trashing one another, believers will keep trying to convert or kill those of differing belief, and, collectively, we will fail to see that enormous global challenges are calling us to greatness."
--Michael Dowd (on talking about his work in 30 seconds or less...)


Most writers would be thrilled to have a Nobel laureate endorse their new book. For author Michael Dowd, no less than five Nobel laureates — most in the sciences — have written glowing reviews of praise for Dowd's unique take on evolution. But add in the fact that Reverend Michael Dowd was once a conservative evangelical who protested the teaching of evolution and things get interesting!

Dowd and Barlow 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. Their websites are overflowing with praise from literally hundreds of community leaders, from every shade of the religious and secular rainbow.

This event is cosponsored by the UUFF Social Justice Committee, The Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology’s Environmental Committee and Limbertwig Press of Fayetteville.
A personal invitation from Leigh:

In my years of being fascinated with the natural world, I have never seen teachers illuminate the beauty of evolution and the natural world like Barlow and Dowd. For Dowd personally, it all is a celebration of what he calls God, for Barlow a celebration of what she calls the Universe. What is remarkable, and truly unique, is that their ideas CELEBRATE the diversity of beliefs (one of which would be a lack of any particular belief) as having the capacity to make our society more healthy, the way a healthy ecosystem is characterized by a diversity of life.

Being exposed to Dowd and Barlow helped me recognize some of my own narrow-mindedness -- I believed for the world to change, more people would have to think as I do. After years spent in progressive, liberal and creative circles I am amazed that one of the most diversity-celebrating worldviews I’ve ever come across is from a former evangelical Christian minister -- a worldview that does not merely tolerate differences in thought, cultures and beliefs but sees those differences as gifts we’ll need to move into a culture that truly embodies peace, justice and ecology.

I see Dowd and Barlow as doing tremendously important work. Dowd’s brand new book (and website) Thank God for Evolution! (Council Oak Books) is angled as exploration of a science-based worldview to American religious community in a way that is unifying rather than divisive; in a way that unites all in the common goal of a livable planet. Not to mention that a science-based understanding of the planet’s systems is absolute prerequisite to action to reduce disastrous climate change.

More than 85% of the world’s population count themselves as religious ( Given those numbers, any worldview that enhances cooperation toward environmental sustainability is one worth seriously examining. A worldview such as Dowd’s and Barlow’s could go a long way in creating a culture of peace, promoting social justice, and preserving the earth as a viable ecosystem for us and our fellow creatures. I support their work because I love and work on behalf of the natural world.

I heartily invite you to come out on a winter night to a presentation that will be lively, thought provoking, and above all, truly inspiring for those who are working for peace, justice and ecology.

Leigh Wilkerson -- Poet, Activist and Gardener (

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