Responses from Colleges, Academics, and Researchers


Praise for Michael's 2007 book from NOBEL LAUREATES     full list of endorsements

  • "The universe took 13.7 billion years to produce this amazing book. I heartily recommend it." — JOHN MATHER, NASA CHIEF SCIENTIST, 2006 NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS

  • "The science vs. religion debate is over! Michael Dowd masterfully unites rationality and spirituality in a world view that celebrates the mysteries of existence and inspires each human being to achieve a higher purpose in life. A must read for all, including scientists." — CRAIG MELLO, 2006 Nobel PRIZE IN PHYSIOLOGY OR MEDICINE

  • 19 June 2008 Viking/Penguin released the new hardcover edition of Dowd's Thank God for Evolution. The book website provides links to the news articles about it, including New York Times Magazine and Washington Post.
  • Quick LINKS for three categories of praise statements from college professors and students:





    Feature article on CONNIE BARLOW's work in
    June 2008 ORION Magazine    

    "TORREYA STATE PARK perches on the steep, sandy banks of the Apalachicola, where the river twists slowly through the Florida Panhandle toward the Gulf of Mexico. This is one of the most isolated spots in Florida, rich only in plant life and prisons, stupefyingly hot in summer and eerily quiet nearly all year round. Most park visitors are on their way somewhere else, and when Connie Barlow stopped here on a winter day in 1999, she was no exception . . . "



    "Students in my general ecology class thoroughly enjoyed your presentation on some of the 'ghosts of evolution' we should think about when we see osage oranges, locust and Kentucky coffee tree pods, and other fruits here in the midwest. I thought the discussion you generated was great and many students commented on various aspects of the talk for several weeks afterward, especially when we got out in the field. I even asked a question relating to the talk on their next hour exam, which obviously led to further discussion of the topic. Hopefully some of them will get a chance to read your book or some of the literature you made reference to. Thanks again for coming to present your talk to my students." — Dr. Calvin L. Cink, Professor of Biology, Baker University

    "The students and I very much enjoyed your lecture on anachronisms, megafaunas, and Pleistocene faunas and floras. You have done scientists, students, and the lay public a great service by making the terms anachronisms and megafaunal fruit syndrome more widely understood and appreciated. Some scientists were aware of the Janzen and Martin paper, "Neotropical anachronisms: The fruits the gomphotheres ate," but it wasn't all that widely known and it had sort of fallen out of general awareness. You personally have rekindled an interest in this subject. I think this next generation of scientists will shed new insights into many of these relationships. I do fully credit you for helping to focus my long standing interest in Maclura into a more rigorous investigation. Your slides were a nice addition as it helps the students better visualize both the plants and animals that they were hearing about. In the next class session we had a lively discussion on introductions and that was good for the students to think about. You challenged them. Again, thank you! We very much enjoyed your lecture and it was perfect for my mammalogy class to think about." — Robert M. Timm, Ph.D., Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas Natural History Museum

    "Connie, you were splendid! We're still talking about you, your messages about the Great Story and about living simply, your peeks into the past, your enthusiasm and brilliance! Thank you for opening an extraordinary door into the past here at Selby Gardens. Your enthusiastic message (and great slide show!) about the Great Story, especially about evolutionary 'ghosts,' gave us all a palpable sense of botanical history. Now, when I look at the cycads and Pandanus on campus or the Gleditsia along the Upper Myakka Lake, I almost hear the rustlings of Pleistocene mammals ... or some Jurassic shadowy thing emerging from the forest! With the conviction and voice of a preacher, you pulled us into the Great Story and showed us the way. Thank you from all of us here at Selby: researchers, interns, volunteers, administrators. A thousand blessings." — Bruce Rinker, Director of Research & Conservation, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota FL

    "Thank you, Connie, for giving a talk to the ecology and evolution graduate students at Stanford University. Your talk was highly engaging and very informative. Although many of us were familiar with the Dan Janzen paper which forms the core of your presentation, your elaborations on the paper were very novel and certainly interesting." — Jai Ranganathan, graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

    "Thank you, Connie, for making me think more deeply about the interconnections in ecosystems. Too often, we base our ecological thinking on the current state of the system without accounting for past changes in community composition. Your revelations about anachronistic species opened my eyes to a missing piece of ecology that was always right in front of me. I can't wait to go home to Ohio and look at the pawpaws, persimmons, honey locusts and Kentucky coffeetrees and imagine the 'ghosts' they represent. You reminded me that we must think about conservation on longer time scales." — Jason Funk, Doctoral Student, Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University

    "Dear Connie: Thanks for your excellent presentation on the last 60 million years of history of North America to my Environmental Science classes in Spring 2004. You brought an entirely new perspective to the usual day-to-day issues of the environment. It's always more meaningful for students to hear about the work of real people, in person, rather than in textbooks. My students were awed by your words. Thank you for all your dedication. Keep up the good work." — Carol Kimmons, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    "Connie Barlow gave a lively talk, one that has all of us looking at the produce aisle with new eyes. Her show-and-tell presentation, including some of the large seeds and seed pods, conveyed her message in an way that her book alone cannot." — Lori S. Eggert, Ph.D., Molecular Genetics Lab, Smithsonian Institution

    "Enthusiasm, a comfortable, relaxed style, and an obvious, deep understanding of the subject matter are a potent combination that assure audiences an evening they will enjoy, understand, and remember. Connie Barlow's program helps people look at plants they have known for a lifetime in new ways and just may encourage students to delve a bit deeper into their science studies in a quest to explore the unknown that is so close to hand." — Margie Gibson, Office of Public Affairs, National Zoo, Wash. DC

    "Connie, your program ["The Ghosts of Evolution"] was fantastic — so well researched and lovingly presented. Passion and science — what a wonderful mix!!" — Nancy Henry, Highlands Nature Sanctuary, Ohio

    "Connie's Evolution Extended is always either the favorite or second favorite book for the students in my course." — Brian Swimme, California Institute for Integral Studies


    "Dear Michael: I was in the class at St. Thomas University that you spoke in this morning. I talked with you briefly after the class, but I just wanted to write and tell you again how much I appreciated what you said, and how you went about it this morning. I am a Christian myself, but I have become used to many Christians shoving their opinions down the throat of others. I found you were very confident in what you said, but you weren't offensive or intolerant of other people. That is a ministry in itself!" — Rich Crosby, student at St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick.

    "Thank you so much for Michael's stimulating presentation, which gave my students and me an excellent opportunity to see how theologians are exploring new ways of understanding God. Particularly valuable was your discussion of how historical context can shape understandings of God, as well as your provocative arguments about theology and ecology. I also enjoyed visiting with you over lunch. My students seemed to be entirely engaged with your enthusiastic presentation." — Dr. Thomas Leininger, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Diego, California

    "Michael Dowd's presentation of 'The Great Story' provided provocative food for thought for my undergraduate students in Introduction to the New Testament. Michael adapted his presentation to fit with the themes of the class. He was courteous and thoughtful in responding to skeptical questions and comments." — Prof. George Wiley, Religion Department, Baker University, Ballwin KS

    "Michael is a great teacher, with both urgently important content and a charismatic style." — John Cobb, Center for Process Studies, Claremont CA

    "From your presentation I discovered for the first time what was right in front of my face, waiting for me to take hold of: the knowledge of how to incorporate my religious beliefs into everyday life in a meaningful way. I've always believed in God, but like many, I had an image of Him as an old guy floating in the sky, which didn't do much for my understanding of myself and the Story. Michael, I will never forget your heaven and hell explanations, and how when you feel love, that is heaven. That makes so much sense to me, and that helped me to relate to God as what lies within everything. Now I realize that signs of God are everywhere in everything, and it's a really cool feeling. Thank you! You've changed my life." — Matthew Giesfeldt, student in an honors interdisciplinary seminar, Edgewood College, Madison WI

    "I was most impressed with Dowd's talk on ultimate reality. Especially the premise that we can call our idea of the supreme Being whatever we choose: God, Allah, Buddha, Lord, Creator, etc., but in reality they all mean the same thing. I always viewed God as some old man with white hair and a white beard, but now I would say that ultimate reality is a cosmic force, keeping everything together and connected on different levels. My favorite message was when he said, "We are Earth becoming aware." This is exactly how I feel. — Michele Pino, student at Miami-Dade Community College, Miami FL

    "I myself being of the Christian faith enjoyed hearing a more scientific part of it, which opened my eyes and showed me a way to believe in both religion and science. I had never fully understood why mentioning both brought so much controversy, like if they didn't correlate. I'm hoping to expand my horizons, develop a better understanding of the scientific view, and add it in with my religious values." — Jenny Gomez, student at Miami-Dade Community College, Miami FL

    "Michael: I don't often learn much in "inspirational" talks, but the work of you and your wife at Summit last Sunday was a profound exception, erudite and charming all of a piece! One could not ask more ofa truly classic (read, Aristotelian) rhetoric." — Richard Wilkie, Professor Emeritus, Dept. Rhetoric & Communication, SUNY Albany NY


    "I am most grateful to have had you, Connie and Michael, with us at Miami Dade College. Your presentations on science and religion, over three days, on four of our campuses, reached more than 300 students and two dozen faculty members, from various disciplines. We also had one of the Campus Presidents and Dean of Administration attend one of your sessions. You demonstrated the transdisciplinary nature of Earth Literacy, engaging students studying English as a Second Language, Biology, Elementary Education, Psychology, Business, Economics, History, Literature, Communication Arts, Fine Arts, and Social Sciences. Your presentations stirred the continuing conversations among students and faculty about the great work that each of us is called to within a context of deep time and ecological sustainability." — Patricia Siemen, J.D., O.P., Director, Environmental Ethics Institute Miami Dade College, Florida

    "Thank you, Connie and Michael, for taking time out on your last day in Portland to speak to my "Complexity and the Universe" class. The students were fascinated by your story of what you are doing and why, as indicated by the discussion stirred up during class. An important purpose of the course is to teach the science of cosmology in a way that invites students to incorporate the concepts into their own lives in ways that are meaningful and personal to them. Your personal stories provided them with an excellent example of the life- and society- transforming power of this process. It helped them to see directly that the science really does have an impact on everything: politics, religion, or just how we spend our day-to-day lives." — Todd Duncan, astrophysicist, Portland State University

    "Thank you Michael and Connie for coming to Clark College and presenting the keynote speech for the Clark College students and community for our Earth Day celebration on April 22, 2003. Your presentation was inspiring and uplifting and I'm sure others who attended were as deeply moved as I was. The best part about your presentation, in my opinion, was the inclusiveness of your message. Your message and style draws people closer to a true understanding of evolutionary biology and our important role in the universe without creating a divisive atmosphere between religious and non-religious values and beliefs. This is something I have been struggling with in my years of teaching biology at Clark College. I am so happy that so many of my students attended the keynote presentation, and I will definitely be inviting you back to Clark College to present to my biology students in the future. Again thanks for the inspiration. Your genuine enthusiasm has left a lasting impression with us." — Kathleen Perillo, Environmental Biology Professor, Clark College, Vancouver, Washington

    "Thank you Michael for coming to my Public Speaking class at Wenatchee Valley College. It was a wonderful opportunity for my students to see and hear a professional public speaker. I was especially delighted with the exercise you suggested for helping students find their passion, their raison d'etre. While I know that what I teach is solid academically, its always nice to see and hear a professional validate what I do. The passion is the key. You have it. They saw it. And I thank you." — Chip Balling, adjunct professor, Wenatchee Valley College, WA.

    "Thank you, Connie, for your marvelous presentation in the Myth and Shamanism class at Edgewood College. You really gave the students a unique perspective on the co-evolution of plants, animals, and cultures and the the role of myth in trying to understand our universe. We have made reference to your presentation several times in class, so your impact continues." — Prof. Cynthia Rolling, Social Science Department, Edgewood College, Madison WI

    "Like a supernova you burst upon our lives! And now beauteous energies are unfolding. Our students learned so much from both of you in mind and heart. Our Universe Story class continues to build on the gifts and inspiration of your visit. Now students are quoting from your work in their papers." — Prof. Paula Hirschboeck, Philosophy Department, Edgewood College, Madison WI

    "Michael, thanks once again for the inspiring presentation to my Environmental Ethics class. I really enjoyed meeting you and learning about your good work. Thanks, too, for the books. I'm intrigued and looking forward to reading them."  John Nolt, Philosophy Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

    "I was delighted to be a member of your audience last Sunday when you spoke at the Unitarian Church of Evanston. I enjoyed your presentation and, even more, I was heartened to discover two people so unselfishly devoted to a cause. My later visit to your website only strengthened my impression that you are an unusual partnership somehow surviving in a world of materialism and self-interest. On your website, I was of course attracted to "A Feast of Elements". Your description of the synthesis of elements is remarkably accurate, considering its brevity. You managed to catch the essence of the story, if not all the details." — Dr. Richard S. Treptow, Professor of Chemistry, Chicago State University

    "I would just like to offer a brief thanks for inviting Michael Dowd to speak for our class. He was very inspiring and opened (at least my) eyes to a way of thinking that I have never been exposed to. It made more sense to me than anything else I have previously been taught about evolution, spirituality, and our personal relationship to each. His website is very informative and interesting as well." — Michelle Slobodzian, student in International Relations class, SUNY Buffalo

    "Barlow provides a kind of benchmark in the environmental movement, suggesting how a green consciousness might now fully realize its religious character. In a real sense, Barlow's book answers recent calls for a theology of nature. Reminiscent of Auguste Comte's fully developed Religion of Humanity, Barlow sketches a bona fide Religion of Nature." — William A. Durbin, book review of Green Space, Green Time in Zygon journal

    "I just finished teaching your book in a class on World Religions and the Environment in Rollins College. I thought you would like to know that your book was a hit. It is beautifully written science and the meaning of science for how we should live today. Here is one student's comments in a journal entry, after he finished the book: 'Wow! That was powerful! I don't know where to start because my mind is in a state of shock. There were so many thoughts involved in that last chapter. Personally, this book did a lot for my soul. I would have to say it was the most inspirational book I have ever read and I have never felt the feeling of relief after reading a book.'" — Professor Karl Peters, Rollins College, FL and coeditor of Zygon journal


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