Michael Dowd’s Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World was one of those books I really, really wanted to like. The ongoing quest by some to reconcile religious beliefs with the discoveries of modern science has always been an interest of mine. Therefore, when I found Dowd’s book available for check-out at my local public library, I excitedly grabbed it. Unfortunately, while Dowd does an admirable job with his enthusiastic and kind-spirited attempts at explaining evolution and other natural processes as manifestations of a majestic and divine universe, his book’s lack of quality editing left me frustrated, and in the end, considerably disappointed.
In reality, Dowd’s recent book is several books cobbled together into one. One book, the one I really wanted to read, is his attempts to make religion, (and by religion I mean primarily Christianity) compatible with the modern, secular, scientific world. Dowd endows the universe with an overarching divine purpose. In effect, Dowd using a pantheistic approach, relabels the universe as “God”. As a result, belief in “God” is not an act of blind faith, but a simple acknowledgement of the verifiable reality around us. The Big Bang, formation of heavy elements as the result of stellar explosions and evolution of life are all manifestations of the Divine. Hence, there are no contradictions between God and science because God has been materialized and the material world has been made divine.
The other “books” in Dowd’s pastiche, when compared to the core of his argument, have considerably less gravitas. His attempts to explain human behavior by accounting for the nature of our animal ancestors was not only interesting, but fortunately germane to the book’s purpose. However, Dowd spends way too much time on self-help topics, (including a “12-step” personal growth formula which has no business being in this book), New Age ruminations, and ecological discussions. While I found his futurist predictions interesting, unfortunately that material, like much in his book should have been explored in a separate book.
Too bad, I really wanted to like Dowd’s book. Maybe his next book will be better. As well as his next editor.