Michael Dowd, who gave us all so much, has died

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With a heavy heart I must bring the news that Michael Dowd died this past weekend. He was a bright star who, along with his wife Connie, have brought a scientifically real, cosmically inspiring, reality based spirituality to literally hundreds of thousands of people.  They were instrumental in getting me on the path of proclaiming our awesome evolutionary roots to the world.

He’ll be sorely missed, but has brought incredible wonder and good to the world in his tireless work towards a better world, and one based on reality.  If my total contribution to our world at the end of my life is only a tiny fraction of Michael’s, I’ll be very happy.  As half of an incredible team with Connie, he preached the scientific wonder and spiritual power of our Great Story from the big bang (or better, as they coined, the Great Radiance) up until today – through stellar nucleosynthesis (Connie has many wonderful presentations on that), galaxy and solar system formation, the evolution of our one vast family tree of all life on Earth, through human evolution and civilization.  That extensive work is captured and easily accessible at the website Connie built – The Great Story.  This website includes many hours of video of Michael and Connie, and is organized with each main topic from the main page leading to a treasure trove of resources, including celebrations for kids, rites of passage, and so much more.

Michael and Connie started preaching the Great Story in 2002, quickly moving to living on the road full time – speaking to ~3,000 (!) religious or secular groups, only retiring in 2020 when the pandemic prevented them from continuing.  From that webpage:
Rev. Michael Dowd is a bestselling evolutionary eco-theologian and pro-future advocate whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television throughout the U.S. and Canada. His book, Thank God for Evolution, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, noted skeptics, and religious leaders across the spectrum. Michael has delivered two TEDx talks and a program at the United Nations. He has also conducted three acclaimed online conversation series: “The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity” (2011), “The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness” (2015), and “Post-doom: Regenerative conversations exploring overshoot grief, grounding, and gratitude” (2020). Rev. Dowd’s work provides audiences with applications of evolutionary and ecological wisdom that break through the confusions of these rapidly shifting times.
As my mentor, he and Connie have taught me so much, including introducing me to the idea of the Cosmala (see picture above).
Sometime I’ll go through all the content they have either made with me or inspired me to make (well, that would include practically all my content), but not today.  Building on the work of Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, and more, their influence is clear in their promotion of Big History, which now has a society and conferences all on it’s own, and with many of their presentations being in UU churches, they have done a lot to both enrich and anchor UU.   They also were jointly awarded “Humanist of the Year” in 2016 (here’s the video!), served on the board of the Religious Naturalist Association, and more.

In 2014, Michael and Connie began to focus strongly on the devastating effects of climate change, helping raise the awareness of thousands of people to the incredible damage to our Earth that we are causing.  By around 2019, this awareness intensified, giving their Post-Doom emphasis today.

The accolades are rolling in one after the other now, each catching important aspects of his stunning life – including this one from Jordan Perry.  These built toward his Celebration of Life, which occurred on Thursday October 12, 2023 at 5pm PST / 8pm EST.

All of that is just a start at the many ways that Michael will be with us all into the future.  I encourage all of us to discover the many, many life changing works he left us (the links above are a good start).  As when Carl Sagan died, I’m reminded again that times like this speak to us all, urging us to pick up the torch, and carry it into the future.

Starstuff, Contemplating: We are assemblages of ancient atoms forged in stars – atoms organized by history to the point of consciousness, now able to contemplate this sacred Universe of which we are a tiny, but wondrous, part.


Dr. Jon Cleland Host is a scientist who earned his PhD in materials science at Northwestern University & has conducted research at Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning since 1997.  He holds eight patents and has authored over three dozen internal scientific papers and eleven papers for peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the journal Nature.  He has taught classes on biology, math, chemistry, physics and general science at Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University.  Jon grew up near Pontiac, and has been building a reality-based spirituality for over 30 years, first as a Catholic and now as a Unitarian Universalist, including collaborating with Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow to spread the awe and wonder of the Great Story of our Universe.  Jon and his wife have four sons, whom they embrace within a Universe-centered, Pagan, family spirituality.  He currently moderates the yahoo group Naturalistic Paganism.