Rev. Michael Dowd, Death-Cult Environmentalist? |435|

#1
Rev. Michael Dowd, Death-Cult Environmentalist? |435|
by Alex Tsakiris | Dec 17 | Spirituality
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Rev. Michael Dowd brings a progressive Christian spin to apocalyptic environmentalism.
photo by: Skeptiko
On this episode of Skeptiko:
Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:02] If you’re talking about climate change and you’re talking about doing something about it.
Michael Dowd: [00:00:09] No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I don’t talk about doing something about it Alex, I talk about doing something in your own heart to prepare for what’s inevitable.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:18] I’m just saying, if we buy into what you’re saying, isn’t that the inevitable future. It’s not 20 people getting together and deciding they’re going to live a different way, that isn’t going to be the future.
Michael Dowd: [00:00:31] You’re wasting time by talking about something I don’t give a shit about. I don’t care about the climate sciences hoax, I don’t care about where some scientists were, I don’t care about that.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:43] That’s the vibe I got from you from the beginning Michael, and I get from so many people, the death cult environmentalists, they don’t want to waste their time listening to the other side of it.
Michael Dowd: [00:00:53] In my world, there’s not another side.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:58] You’re still calling yourself a Christian.
Michael Dowd: [00:00:59] I’m an evolutionary Christian, I’m a Christian…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:02] You’re a Christian, you haven’t broken free from it.
Michael Dowd: [00:01:11] I am a Christian naturalist, I have no supernatural beliefs or other worldly beliefs at all, zip, nada, not one. I’m a Christian naturalist. So if you’re interpreting…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:21] You have no supernatural beliefs, when you talk about your relationship with Jesus, wasn’t that a supernatural relationship?
Stay with us for Skeptiko.
 
#4
Totally disagree. Alex once again does not get the idea of mythic narratives conveying truths in a symbolic or metaphorical way and insists on dragging them into literalisms and when they don't go he attacks them, although in a much more friendly way as of late. IMO. The same thing happened with Mark Vernon where they were talking past each other for most or the interview.
There’s some truth to this. Story telling and myth making/telling used to be part of the fabric that held societies together. They acted as a form of entertainment when entertainment was otherwise virtually non-existent, but more importantly they conveyed important moral lessons etc.

Biblical literalism is a relatively new thing. In this day and age the word “myth” has almost become a bad word and an insult. This sort of story telling is a lost art and to modern analysts it just appears like silly fiction that counts as a strike against the myth makers and whatever they may believe in.

In this sense, when I was a Christian, I didn’t really believe in a literal Adam and Eve, or in the flood story of Noah’s arc. I just took them as stories from long ago that people held onto as they contained value for them. Sure some may have literally believed them, others not as much. But this push (from critics and believers alike) that everything in the Bible is either historically accurate or it isn’t, and if it isn’t historically accurate it’s garbage and hurts the whole of Christianity is very new and modern idea.

When I was a Christian I looked at the Bible as an imperfect compilation of real history, mythology and art. In some ways I still largely view it as that. Because it clearly does contain all of those components. Although I now believe there may be more fabrication passed off as historical truth than any Christian would be ready to admit to. In this sense, I don’t know how much use society will have for the Bible as we progress into the future. But we need to interpret it fairly and understand the culture and the ideas of the people when they wrote it.
 
#6
Long time listener to Skeptiko. Just have to say first that I'm a big fan of the podcast and your book, Alex! It's because of your book that I tried Bengston therapy (through Bernadette) and eventually found a few more truly unbelievable healers who are doing extraordinary work and have worked miracles for me. If you ever want more info on some of these people, or if you want me to try and connect you with one or more of them, just let me know. I'm happy to ask if they're interested in talking about their work and sharing their extraordinary life stories.

Regarding this interview: Maybe it's just me, but this man is so disagreeable, obnoxious, condescending, and arrogant. He acts like he's doing you a huge favor by coming on your show. I'm about halfway through and he's simply insufferable. I had to stop and join the forum. I have never disliked a guest more than this guy. He continually talks to you as if you're a child. And what is this sarcasm nonsense he's talking about? I would not have been able to keep my cool with an interviewee like this. Kudos to you, Alex -- really shows how professional of an interviewer you are and how serious you are about constructive discussion, even under very difficult circumstances.
 
#7
Long time listener to Skeptiko. Just have to say first that I'm a big fan of the podcast and your book, Alex! It's because of your book that I tried Bengston therapy (through Bernadette) and eventually found a few more truly unbelievable healers who are doing extraordinary work and have worked miracles for me. If you ever want more info on some of these people, or if you want me to try and connect you with one or more of them, just let me know. I'm happy to ask if they're interested in talking about their work and sharing their extraordinary life stories.

Regarding this interview: Maybe it's just me, but this man is so disagreeable, obnoxious, condescending, and arrogant. He acts like he's doing you a huge favor by coming on your show. I'm about halfway through and he's simply insufferable. I had to stop and join the forum. I have never disliked a guest more than this guy. He continually talks to you as if you're a child. And what is this sarcasm nonsense he's talking about? I would not have been able to keep my cool with an interviewee like this. Kudos to you, Alex -- really shows how professional of an interviewer you are and how serious you are about constructive discussion, even under very difficult circumstances.
thx RJ... glad this brought you to the forum. great to hear re Bengston! I'm going to start a private conversation and get more info.

yeah, there's kinda a long history as to why I stuck it out with the Rev. partially explained here:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...-about-global-warming.4427/page-6#post-137469
 
#8
Long time listener to Skeptiko. Just have to say first that I'm a big fan of the podcast and your book, Alex! It's because of your book that I tried Bengston therapy (through Bernadette) and eventually found a few more truly unbelievable healers who are doing extraordinary work and have worked miracles for me. If you ever want more info on some of these people, or if you want me to try and connect you with one or more of them, just let me know. I'm happy to ask if they're interested in talking about their work and sharing their extraordinary life stories.

Regarding this interview: Maybe it's just me, but this man is so disagreeable, obnoxious, condescending, and arrogant. He acts like he's doing you a huge favor by coming on your show. I'm about halfway through and he's simply insufferable. I had to stop and join the forum. I have never disliked a guest more than this guy. He continually talks to you as if you're a child. And what is this sarcasm nonsense he's talking about? I would not have been able to keep my cool with an interviewee like this. Kudos to you, Alex -- really shows how professional of an interviewer you are and how serious you are about constructive discussion, even under very difficult circumstances.
Yea Alex is generally unshakeable. That and his built for radio voice make him a good Podcaster
 
#10
I can't help feeling a bit sorry for Reverend Dowd. His view that humanity is already irreversibly defeated on Earth doesn't reflect much of Christianity to me at all. He seems unaware of the power of that almighty Consciousness we call God who is quite capable of making subtle adjustments to planet Earth or the Sun when required. He seems totally ignorant of the high probability that we, tiny conscious humans in a massive Universe do in fact matter to that conscious Creator God. Oh sure, one day this Earth may have out lived it's usefulness but so long as imperfect humans in need of a perfecting of the boot camp kind are born into it, this world will carry on.
 
#11
I can't help feeling a bit sorry for Reverend Dowd. His view that humanity is already irreversibly defeated on Earth doesn't reflect much of Christianity to me at all. He seems unaware of the power of that almighty Consciousness we call God who is quite capable of making subtle adjustments to planet Earth or the Sun when required. He seems totally ignorant of the high probability that we, tiny conscious humans in a massive Universe do in fact matter to that conscious Creator God. Oh sure, one day this Earth may have out lived it's usefulness but so long as imperfect humans in need of a perfecting of the boot camp kind are born into it, this world will carry on.
I might have worded it exactly as you did, but HECK YEAH... how could it be otherwise!
 
#12
It's interesting that he didn't want to debate the science - I thought that that was the main point of getting him on the show, but perhaps I misunderstood. It's also unfortunate that the climate scientist we contacted by email didn't get back to us (well, he didn't get back to me - maybe he got back to you, Alex?) - though we knew that that was a long shot.

For what it was, though, the show was very interesting. I thought Alex asked some bang-on questions, especially about Michael's relationship with Jesus. I, too, find it odd that he would call himself a Christian when he doesn't even conceive of the central figure in that religion as a person, but rather as a symbol for the future. Can you really stretch the meaning of "Christian" that far? I'm doubtful.

On Michael's main theme - that we have crossed the tipping point and there is no saving us from catastrophic climate change - I think that that's probably overstating the danger we're in, and so I do think that taking action remains imperative.

He was, though, an interesting guest with interesting ideas, and I enjoyed the podcast. Thanks to Alex and Michael!
 
#13
It's interesting that he didn't want to debate the science
I know that you and others will probably have a hard time believing this but I've never worked harder to book an expert than I have on this topic. I've even had several experts initially agree and then back out. at this point, I'm forced to conclude that like our friend Rev. Michael they are not willing to risk being asked tough questions. and it's not like I think the science is clear cut -- I don't -- but it's just that those who have taken the alarmist position are so far out on a limb... and have strayed so far from the science... that they have nowhere to go.
 
#14
It's interesting that he didn't want to debate the science - I thought that that was the main point of getting him on the show, but perhaps I misunderstood. It's also unfortunate that the climate scientist we contacted by email didn't get back to us (well, he didn't get back to me - maybe he got back to you, Alex?) - though we knew that that was a long shot.
The supporters of climate catastrophe never debate the science - haven't you realised that yet? They don't debate because faced with anyone well informed on the subject, they would lose. The same is true when it comes to debating evolution by natural selection, except that one time a couple of people tried tried, and pretty obviously lost:


Fake science works that way - they avoid any technical discussion - just spout their conclusions.

The main reason that they call people deniers, is because it gives them a fake excuse not to debate with informed dissenters. There are 'Climate Deniers',' Darwin Deniers', 'Statin Denier's (yes I have seen that daft term used) and of course the catch-all 'science deniers'.

When I hear that one side of a scientific debate calls the others 'deniers', my ears prick up. It is usually a sign that the 'consensus' argument is too weak to discuss in public.

David
 
#16
It's interesting that he didn't want to debate the science - I thought that that was the main point of getting him on the show, but perhaps I misunderstood. It's also unfortunate that the climate scientist we contacted by email didn't get back to us (well, he didn't get back to me - maybe he got back to you, Alex?) - though we knew that that was a long shot.

For what it was, though, the show was very interesting. I thought Alex asked some bang-on questions, especially about Michael's relationship with Jesus. I, too, find it odd that he would call himself a Christian when he doesn't even conceive of the central figure in that religion as a person, but rather as a symbol for the future. Can you really stretch the meaning of "Christian" that far? I'm doubtful.

On Michael's main theme - that we have crossed the tipping point and there is no saving us from catastrophic climate change - I think that that's probably overstating the danger we're in, and so I do think that taking action remains imperative.

He was, though, an interesting guest with interesting ideas, and I enjoyed the podcast. Thanks to Alex and Michael!
My interpretation of this piece is that here is a guy who has a deep history with Christianity---he's familiar with the theology and has a huge network of Christian churches, etc. So when he starts to move away from a more status quo belief system, he finds a way to weave his new perspective into his old perspective, so he doesn't lose his professional network and he doesn't have to completely discard all of the theology and beliefs he's learned over the years, instead he can sort of rejigger them.

He is peddling ideas, after all, so from an efficiency standpoint, it makes sense to rejigger rather than start from scratch. That said, I didn't get the impression that it's all about business for him; it does seem like he's legitimately passionate about what he's selling. But his whole Christian minister outfit and "reifying" Christian terminology in a more secular light is also rather provocative and probably helps with his publicity efforts.

I think some public figures do this kind of thing quite a bit, though usually perhaps more subtly.

Generally speaking, I thought this guy was an interesting guest. I like his notion of defining God as reality and his rejiggering of the trinity to be about past (father), future (son), and present (holy spirit). I also enjoy this idea:

idolatry of the written word, idolatry of the other worldly and idolatry of beliefs.

Except I tend to think that it's probably the spoken word that started putting humans "out of balance" with nature, or even evolved features that came about BEFORE language.

At any rate, the idolatry business reminds me of the book ZeroTheology, which has a related theme.

Personally, I have been exploring what it is like to prioritize USEFULNESS instead of prioritizing "correctness" or "incorrectness" when evaluating ideas. Sort of like how biological evolution is based on the USEFULNESS of mutations, and not based on working an organism toward some Perfect Platonic Version of the organism. In this view, biological evolution never ends and the evolution of human ideas never ends. In this view, when we try to "dig in" with our positions, we are like an organism trying to halt its own evolution. It is true that some organisms haven't changed much in quite some time, but eventual change is inevitable.

So Dowd's talking about the problems of writing ideas down in holy books is a parallel idea to what I have been exploring. I just don't think ideas need to be written down in order to be artificially "concretized". I tend to think that in human culture, ideas can be "frozen in place" in all kinds of ways besides just in writing.
 
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#17
My interpretation of this piece is that here is a guy who has a deep history with Christianity---he's familiar with the theology and has a huge network of Christian churches, etc. So when he starts to move away from a more status quo belief system, he finds a way to weave his new perspective into his old perspective, so he doesn't lose his professional network and he doesn't have to completely discard all of the theology and beliefs he's learned over the years, instead he can sort of rejigger them.
Yep, agreed - I think that's a perceptive comment.

Personally, I have been exploring what it is like to prioritize USEFULNESS instead of prioritizing "correctness" or "incorrectness" when evaluating ideas.
What results have your explorations turned up so far? Or, in other words, how would you evaluate this approach?
 
#18
The supporters of climate catastrophe never debate the science - haven't you realised that yet? They don't debate because faced with anyone well informed on the subject, they would lose. The same is true when it comes to debating evolution by natural selection, except that one time a couple of people tried tried, and pretty obviously lost:


Fake science works that way - they avoid any technical discussion - just spout their conclusions.

The main reason that they call people deniers, is because it gives them a fake excuse not to debate with informed dissenters. There are 'Climate Deniers',' Darwin Deniers', 'Statin Denier's (yes I have seen that daft term used) and of course the catch-all 'science deniers'.

When I hear that one side of a scientific debate calls the others 'deniers', my ears prick up. It is usually a sign that the 'consensus' argument is too weak to discuss in public.

David
well said. and I think yr right about evolution except the christian's kinda clouded the issue for a long time :)
 
#19
My interpretation of this piece is that here is a guy who has a deep history with Christianity---he's familiar with the theology and has a huge network of Christian churches, etc. So when he starts to move away from a more status quo belief system, he finds a way to weave his new perspective into his old perspective, so he doesn't lose his professional network and he doesn't have to completely discard all of the theology and beliefs he's learned over the years, instead he can sort of rejigger them.

He is peddling ideas, after all, so from an efficiency standpoint, it makes sense to rejigger rather than start from scratch. I didn't get the impression that it's all about business for him; it does seem like he's legitimately passionate about what he's selling. But his whole Christian minister costume and "reifying" Christian terminology in a more secular light is also rather provocative and probably helps with his publicity efforts.

I think some public figures do this kind of thing quite a bit, though usually perhaps more subtly.

Generally speaking, I thought this guy was an interesting guest. I like his notion of defining God as reality and his rejiggering of the trinity to be about past (father), future (son), and present (holy spirit). I also enjoy this idea:

idolatry of the written word, idolatry of the other worldly and idolatry of beliefs.

Except I tend to think that it's probably the spoken word that started putting humans "out of balance" with nature, or even evolved features that came about BEFORE language.

At any rate, the idolatry business reminds me of the book ZeroTheology, which has a related theme.

Personally, I have been exploring what it is like to prioritize USEFULNESS instead of prioritizing "correctness" or "incorrectness" when evaluating ideas. Sort of like how biological evolution is based on the USEFULNESS of mutations, and not based on working an organism toward some Perfect Platonic Version of the organism. In this view, biological evolution never ends and the evolution of human ideas never ends. In this view, when we try to "dig in" with our positions, we are like an organism trying to halt its own evolution. It is true that some organisms haven't changed much in quite some time, but eventual change is inevitable.

So Dowd's talking about the problems of writing ideas down in holy books is a parallel idea to what I have been exploring. I just don't think ideas need to be written down in order to be artificially "concretized". I tend to think that in human culture, ideas can be "frozen in place" in all kinds of ways besides just in writing.
ok, but sea levels have not risen. and the alarmists have been caught faking science.
 
#20
Sort of like how biological evolution is based on the USEFULNESS of mutations, and not based on working an organism toward some Perfect Platonic Version of the organism.
Except that if you follow my thread about Behe's "Darwin Devolves", he shows that, given the structure of DNA, the only form of evolution by natural selection that 'works', is a destructive kind that progressively destroys the information in the genome.

David
 
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