©2008 Michael Dowd; (P)2008 Penguin
Dowd's conclusions (insofar as they're decipherable) seem consistent with a desire to retain the engine of religion--what could broadly be called the existential urge--without having to invoke a God as the object of religious sentiment. Dowd's God is a personification of the universe as a whole and he views the universe as a living organism that is made conscious through the large mammalian brains of homo sapiens (as far as we know).
Unfortunately, Dowd does both religion and science a disservice. Religion without God is unintelligible and science with sentimentality is diluted. Dowd's narrative ends up being far too thick on sentimentality and much too thin on substance. Dowd doesn’t argue for his positions, he preaches them. As with any sermon, one either chooses to accept it or reject it. In this sense, Dowd is going to be much more palatable to the religious mindset than the scientific. Anyone looking for a religious version of Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth should look elsewhere (James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience is a good alternate).
For those who have ears to hear, Dowd’s narrative is also quite condescending to positions he finds anachronistic and outdated. He reads the text well and his voice has an uplifting and friendly tone and cadence. But his message is clear: get up to speed or you will be culpable for the world’s problems. Dowd casts himself as a visionary who sees where things will end up and has a sort of friendly contempt for those who remain stuck on a pre-enlightened worldview (in both science and religion). Audio quality and production are top notch and Dowd as narrator is excellent.
I very much enjoyed the audio book. Mr. Dowd is obviously passionate about his subject and it showed in his writing and reading. I took much away from it and specifically his concept of integrity; I have been viewing my own life and actions from that perspective and it has been making a very positive difference in my life. My have only a few critiques. First, his understanding of God and Jesus, which I very much agree with, is so unlike the God and Jesus of the bible, that it seems he feels it is just an old myth that was appropriate for the time, but really doesn't hold much value today. He claims a number of times that he is down with scripture, but I didn't find many example of where he thinks the bible has deep underlying truths that are absolutely applicable to life today.
The second is that, although he gives a caveat that science is fallible and can be swayed by opinion, he then goes on to express, dare I say, a religious belief in "science". Scientific experiment that is cut and dry and provable beyond nearly any doubt (ie: the speed of light) are factual, but when you start calling Darwinian Evolution in its entirety "science", you start getting yourself in trouble. Like the Bible, Darwin wrote his "theory" when little information about genetics, never mind the extraordinary complexity of genetic structure, was even know. The religious fervor with which most scientist defend the theory of random mutation and natural selection as the causative elements of evolution of the species smacks of the same dogma shown by christian fundamentalists in defending the bible as literal. The challenge is that what is so often called "science" is not even close to science (see "Global Warmi"...I mean "Climate Change"). Real science, such as big bang theory, quantum theroy etc., can be viewed through a spiritual light and help get a deeper understanding of the fundamental nature of our world (God), the other outdated and junk science, can't be very helpful.
I thought this book was ambigous and lacked a clear premise or direction. The author was never clear on his theology or belief system. Throughout the book he tried explaining a belief in god as anagolous to worshiping the universe. This is not what a searcher for truth wants to hear. Can we at least get an absolute belief system. This book turned from a science/theology debate to a self help book, which was not indicitive by the title. If you are a beliver looking for evidence of God through science this is not the book for you. See Language of God or Whats so Great About Christianity.
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