Evolution evangelists ... coming to a church near you?
6 March 2003
Mike Jacobson is a medical doctor who now works full-time as a counselor at a local church. He recently sent AiG a true story about two traveling ‘evangelists’ who are visiting churches and colleges across the USA telling the antithesis of the Gospel—the Great Story of Evolution. One of these evangelists, Michael Dowd, was a pastor who converted to evolution while at seminary.
When someone embraces evolution and rejects the historical authenticity of the Fall (i.e. Genesis 1–3), he has no basis for believing he has need of a Savior (i.e. John 1–3). That truth is clearly seen in the sad tale that follows.
For a number of months now, I have been receiving an interesting publication entitled Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology. It appears to share a similar purpose to that of this ministry: to integrate the study of science with faith. The October 2002 issue reported on the formation of the International Society for Science and Religion, based in Spain.
This highly ‘intellectual’ newspaper appears to cater particularly to the university or seminary level professor. Not surprisingly (though sadly), this ‘science and religion newspaper’ gives much greater weight to what it refers to as ‘science’ than it does the religion that it is supposedly attempting to integrate. Whatever ‘science says’ goes, and if science does not affirm a religious belief, then it presumes the religious belief to be false—or mythical at best. Consider some article titles: ‘World religions seek peace through science,’ ‘Wesleyan scholars search for a new creation at Oxford,’ ‘The moral obligation of taking Darwin seriously’ and finally ‘Evolution’s traveling "evangelists" tell the sacred tale: unique ministry strings together the story of Earth.’
This last article was the most troublesome—and revealing. Written by a doctoral student at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, it details the traveling ‘ministry’ of ‘evangelists’ Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow, who take the ‘Great Story’ to any church or campus that will hear them.
According to the article, Mr Dowd’s spiritual journey began with a ‘born-again’ experience on a mountaintop in Germany, after which he enrolled in an Assembly of God College. To his great dismay, he discovered that the school embraced evolution. Eventually, a ‘friend convinced him that evolution was not a tool of Satan and that one need not be anti-intellectual to be a Christian.’ Dowd’s interest in evolution continued as a United Church of Christ pastor.
Eventually, he met and fell in love with Connie Barlow, a ‘longtime Unitarian Universalist.’ In April 2002, they began a traveling ministry together. And what is this Great Story? Is it the story of Jesus, and God’s love for humanity? Hardly. According to these evangelists, it’s much better.
‘THE GREAT STORY, also known as the Universe Story or Epic of Evolution, is humanity's common creation story. It is the 13 billion year scientific epic of cosmic genesis, from the formation of the galaxies and the origin of Earth life to the emergence of self-reflective consciousness and development of human technology.’
In reading through a timeline of this Great Story, I looked particularly for the answer to three questions: Who is God? What about sin? And who is Jesus? Here are the answers according to this ‘gospel.’ First, God is ‘that Ultimate Reality.’
All of humanity’s various names, images, and metaphors for ultimate reality: God, Goddess, Great Spirit, Creator, Lord, The Almighty, Yahweh, Allah, The Implicate Order, Unmoved Mover, Originating Power, Source, Ground of Being, Buddha Nature, Brahman, Indra’s Net, Higher Power, The Tao, The Universe, Kosmos, The One, The Great Self, etc.
What is their take on sin and the Fall? Well, it was not really a fall; it was ‘an enormous leap in complexity, and a hugely positive development’!
50,000–500,000 years ago SYMBOLIC LANGUAGE emerges, marking the birth of beliefs and metaphors for comprehending the nature of Reality and our relationship to it in all its manifestations. This marks a radical shift. For 80–95% of human history we experienced life—we remembered, made choices, learned, pair-bonded, raised children, and were guided by instinct, experience, and non-verbal tradition, or ‘culture’—without any internal conversation going on in our heads. In other words, we lived and communicated as other animals do—intuitively and experientially, making full use of our senses—and were guided by the whole of Reality (within and outside us) just as all other creatures are. Mythically, while this can be considered HUMANITY'S FALL FROM THE GARDEN, it should also be recognized as AN ENORMOUS LEAP IN COMPLEXITY, and a hugely positive development at a number of levels. Symbolic language widens the range of possible feelings that can be experienced. It makes abstract thought achievable—hence, science and religion. It also allows us to communicate something of the past—storytelling—and to work with others in planning future actions. In all of these ways, symbolic language makes it possible for the Universe to come to know and experience itself in a new way, in and through the human. (Emphasis in the original)
Jesus supposedly brought a new ‘understanding’ of ‘Reality’ as a Forgiving Father and redeemer of humanity and understood himself ‘to be one with, and a unique revelation of, the Source and wholeness of Reality.’ Unfortunately, that same reflection of deity is apparently attributed to the rest of us. As one little girl wrote after hearing the Great Story, ‘It was unbelievable that we are 13 billion years old! And that we are made out of stardust it [sic] makes me feel like a Goddess. I don’t like it. I love it.’
Here we see the ‘true reality’ that results from listening to this fabrication. A young child does not see a holy God for who He is, her lost state as a consequence of sin and her need for redemption through faith in Christ. No, instead, she is excited about the presumptive connection she has with the stars that gives her a sense that she is a ‘goddess.’ Who needs Jesus when you are a goddess? It reminds me of the words of the serpent in the Garden when he said, ‘Ye shall not surely die.’ That was not a Great Story. It was, and still is, The Great Lie.
If you or someone you know has struggled with the authenticity of the Creation account, I suggest any of a number of resources from Creation Ministries International (creation.com). Also, a friend who had serious doubts found his questions answered in an excellent book In Six Days.
 Stark, E., Evolution’s traveling 'evangelists' tell the sacred tale, Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology 3(2):35, 2002.