One of the many highlights of my week at Chautauqua was meeting Connie Barlow and her husband Michael Dowd. Michael is the author of Thank God for Evolution. His blog, The Evolutionary Evangelist promotes the concept of Evolution Theology ....
As I and others are now using the term, Evolution Theology, or Religion 2.0, refers to those whose position on the science vs. religion controversy tends toward reconciliation or synthesis. The term points broadly to those who do not see themselves at either end of the polarized debate as it is currently framed (either anti-evolutionary creationism and intelligent design at one end, or anti-religious atheism at the other). Theistic evolutionists, religious naturalists, evolutionary humanists, emergentists, pantheists, panentheists, theosophists, and the 11,000+ signers of the Clergy Letter Project may differ in how they integrate evolution and theology , but they all do.The short Wikipedia article on Michael Dowd refers to him as an itinerant Pentecostal preacher. He and his wife travel around America promoting evolution and Christianity. Michael and Connie sat in on a class that I took (Evolution and Christianity). Michael's version of Christianity is very confusing to me, as was the instructor's version. It's part of the so-called "sophisticated" Christianity that seems to deny any scientifically detectable evidence of God's intervention in affairs of the natural world. Undetectable, that is, unless you are a person of faith. People of faith can see the hand of God in events such as the breakup of the Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin wall whereas the rest of us see these as entirely natural events. People who hold this position often go as far as saying that they really don't believe in supernatural beings because God is everywhere in nature.
I had never heard of Michael Dowd before last week but I have been a fan of Connie Barlow for fifteen years. She is the author of two books that I consult frequently when discussing evolution. The first one is From Gaia to Selfish Genes: Selected Writings in the Life Sciences published in 1991 and the second is Evolution Extended: Biological Debates on the Meaning of Life published in 1995.
The books are collections of excerpts from publications by leading thinkers about evolution. The selection is excellent. All the important ideas are there. In some cases this is my primary source because I haven't been able to find the original works; for example, I don't have a copy of The Logic of Life by François Jacob.
It was a delight to finally meet Connie Barlow (and you, too, Michael!). I wish I had known that she would be in Chautatuqua so I could have brought my books for her to sign. As you might have guessed, Connie is the "evolution" part of the team while Michael is the "theology" part. The unusual part of this relationship is that Connie doesn't necessarily buy into religion in the same way as her husband.
Connie published another book in 2002 called The Ghosts Of Evolution Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, And Other Ecological Anachronisms. I'm not familiar with this book but I think I'll buy it.