Hi all. This is my second BioLogos post, my first “Ethical Implications of God using evolution” might be worth checking out if you want see how I’ve come to this point. That point is of genuinely considering the paradigm shifting perspective presented in Michael Dowd’s book “Thank God for Evolution”.
I would love to hear people’s thoughts on his perspective. I’ll include a link below that goes some way to summarising it, obviously those who have read the book and had time to digest it would probably be best placed to answer but I’d still like to hear from newbies to his perspective like me.
In our internet world, it is indeed easy to make a snap judgement on things but I know the discussion here will be of a solid and thoughtful nature, as per what I’m learning is the BioLogos standard! It is an emotive issue though - if someone put this to me only a few weeks and especially a few years ago, I’d pray for them as a total heretic. I’m a bit sad to now be acting as that kind of person (it’s a strange and unsettling emotion).
I haven’t finished listening to the book yet (I’m a listener not a reader) but I am a good way through. The perspective it presents is pretty electric. At first, it felt easy to dismiss it as something tosh posh … but as I listened more, it has some real grab. All at once the perspective is very disorienting but then kind of extremely grounding too.
In processing it so far, I’ve had the thought that evolution and it’s reality acts like a Christmas tree. On this Christmas tree or “reality tree” if you will, all different religions can colourfully hang their ornaments, that is - their unique perspectives and views. We can then learn from each other’s trees. Again, there’s an old part of me that writhes at the thought of saying this - heresy! and I still believe it in part (there is truth and non truth) but the lines of distinction are becoming blurry for me at the moment. I sense a truth about this perspective though, at least a very strong aspect of truth. Indeed, evolution or “the great story” as Dowd described it we understand is true. Within that, it is within evolved human cultures to search for meaning … meaning that is inevitably shaped by a community’s unique experiences. And thus we see the formula of how religion is created. That’s not to say truths religion speaks of are not true - but understanding the fragile human process of how the various conclusions of religion are reached especially against the backdrop of our good old buddy Evolution, that’s important.
Building on the analogy of ornaments beautifying and giving more meaning to a Christmas tree, my thinking is that the whole BioLogos movement is really all about how to set up the ornaments of Christianity on the evolution, of “reality”
tree. Indeed, I consider that within Dowd’s perspective I can still very much believe in God and in the power and beauty and reality of Jesus. To a good extent I do this by believing there had to be a mind or some kind of outside power determining how the perfectly unified laws of physics operate - those pre ordered mechanisms coming into effect after the Big Bang. With regard to the Bible and Christian doctrine - I believe, I do … but not without a lot of 21st century auto correcting along the way. This still leaves me pretty disorientated - in that the “God”presented in the Bible cannot really be the full and only true expression of God - certainly not the full picture. Separating what is true of God and what were cultural and historical overlays in the Bible becomes dizzying and is too much for me.
While going through such motions … within Dowd’s perspective I can take a look over at some of the other “reality” trees. The trees of the human expression reaching upward and looking inward that is religion. I can look at these trees now with integrity, curiosity and respect and largely set aside thoughts around who is right and who is wrong.
All this said … there is one main issue I’m having trouble with within this perspective. That is, Dowd seems to present ”the universe” as being the conscious centre of all that there is, rather than there being a God outside of the universe. I don’t know about that line of thinking though - I’d say God and therefore truth is still outside the physical universe but maybe the distinction is not that cut and dry. Also, Dowd doesn’t say per se there is not a God outside of evolution… but then, he kind of does. An interesting area - and one where Christianity would disagree.
So, I’m asking for your help Please, feel free jump in and add your thoughts … even to walk alongside me for a bit on this journey. It’s an interesting path I’m on - but I remain inspired by the words of the song “Faces” (Andy Moor and Ashley Wallbridge - which btw is dance/electronic music) that I outlined latish in my other, first thread. I’m still walking down the road on all this … but at the current time, Dowd’s perspective in “Thank God for Evolution” seems to be the best map I’ve picked up …