Big History is a way to think about the history of the Universe and our place in it. Big History includes everything from the first few nanoseconds after the Big Bang to the birth and death of stars, the formation of our solar system and planet Earth, the emergence and evolution of life, and all of human history (including the evolutionary significance of religion and science) right up to you now reading this. Also known as the Universe Story, Great Story, or Epic of Evolution, Big History is the science-based sacred story of everyone and everything.
Big History is humanity's first and only creation story drawn from global collective learning. While secular, it nonetheless reveals an evidential way of thinking and speaking about God that is unarguably, inescapably real. (Part 3 of the video series below, "Reality Rules!", is especially recommended for those who may be skeptical of this claim, as well as for those who mistakenly assume that Big History validates pre-scientific ideas of ultimacy.)
A Big History approach to reality synthesizes science and religion head and heart by transcending and including reason and faith, facts and values. Honoring both sides of the equation, how things are and which things matter, is essential for human survival.
The Rev. Michael Dowd is a Big History evangelist, evolutionary theologian, and bestselling author whose work has been featured in The NY Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Wired, Discover, and on CNN, ABC News, and Fox News. His bridge-building book, Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists and other science luminaries, including noted skeptics, and by religious leaders across the spectrum. Michael and his science-writer wife, Connie Barlow, both climate hawks, have spoken to some 2,000 groups across North America since 2002. Their passion is showing how a meaningful, evidence-based view of reality can inspire people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to work together in service of a just and thriving future for all. Michael's two TEDx talks, a New Hampshire Public Television documentary on his "Religion 3.0" gospel, and a program he delivered at Caltech and the United Nations are all freely accessible here. (Rev. Dowd's personal website / Wikipedia page)
Michael Dowd's 18-min TEDx talk serves as a concise introduction to the 5-part video series below.
Words create worlds, and language changes over the centuries. What we call Reality, or Nature, the ancients called God, or, if you lived in a polytheistic culture, the gods. And we don't merely believe this, we know it. The evidence is compelling.
18 min VIDEO published June 2014.
"God in Big History" educational video seriesMentioned in the above video: Thomas Berry, Mary Evelyn Tucker, David Christian, Edward O. Wilson, David Sloan Wilson, Bob Bain, Cynthia Stokes Brown, Fred Spier, Craig Benjamin, Bill Gates, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Julian Huxley, Stephen Toulmin, Carl Sagan, Joanna Macy, Brian Swimme, Aldo Leopold, Loren Eiseley, William Grassie, Walter Alvarez, Connie Barlow, Cathy Russell, Eric Chaisson, Bill Bryson, Robert Wright, Russell Genet, Robert Hazen, John Stewart, Chris Johnstone, Peter Corning, Tom Atlee; 38 "Evolutionary Christianity" interviewees: Charles H. Townes, William D. Phillips, Ian Barbour, John Polkinghorne, Joan Chittister, Kenneth R. Miller, Richard Rohr, Ursula King, John F. Haught, Gloria Schaab, Ilia Delio, Diarmuid O'Murchu, Linda Gibler, Mary Southard, Gail Worcelo, John Shelby Spong, Matthew Fox, Joan Roughgarden, John Cobb, Philip Clayton, Denis Lamoureux, Karl W. Giberson, Owen Gingerich, Edward B. (Ted) Davis, Brian McLaren, Sally Morgenthaler, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Ross Hostetter, Jim Burklo, Tom Thresher, Gretta Vosper, Paul Smith, Bruce Sanguin, Ian Lawton, Kevin Kelly, Michael Morwood; 34 "The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness" interviewees: Bill Pfeiffer, Joe Romm, Ken Wilber, Amy Larkin, Bron Taylor, Rob Hopkins, Nikki Silvestri, Bill McKibben, Carolyn Baker, Drew Dellinger, Peggy Holman, James Hansen, David Gershon, Chris Henderson, Pandora Thomas, Larry Rasmussen, Richard Heinberg, Barbara Jefferson, Michael Brownlee, Susan Joy Hassol, Elisabet Sahtouris, Charles Eisenstein, John Michael Greer, J. Marshall Shepherd, Kathleen Dean Moore, Barbara Marx Hubbard, James Howard Kunstler, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Carl Anthony and Paloma Pavel, Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel Primack.
(5 episodes ♦ 3:15 total ♦ with host, MICHAEL DOWD)
Part 1: THE BIG PICTURE
What is Big History and why is it important?
How does a Big History (global, evidence-based) view of God and religion differ from other approaches?
Big History transforms our sense of who we are, to whom we're related, and how we can foster a just, healthy, and sustainably life-giving future. It also shows why our sources of insight and understanding have expanded through time and how this factualizes (REALizes / naturalizes) what we consider 'divine revelation'.
35 minute VIDEO - published July 2014. WATCH
Mentioned in the above video: Marlin Lavanhar, Loyal Rue, Joel Primack, Nancy Ellen Abrams, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Thomas Berry, Benson Saler, Stewart Guthrie, Michael Winkelman, John R. Baker, Evolutionary Religious Studies, David Sloan Wilson, Jonathan Haidt, Ara Norenzayan, Edward O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, William Grassie, Connie Barlow, Karl Peters, Stuart Kauffman, Ursula Goodenough, and Chet Raymo.
Part 2: SACRED SCIENCE
What does Big History reveal about the deep-time importance of religion and the soul-nourishing importance of science?
How have our sources of knowledge and wisdom expanded through time, and how is this now broadening and factualizing traditional notions of "scripture", "divine guidance", and "God's word"?
Big History reveals the evolutionary (psychological and social) significance of religion and the religious (inspirational and revelatory) significance of science.
35 minute VIDEO - published July 2014. WATCH
Mentioned in the above video: David Sloan Wilson, Terry Tempest Williams, J. Harlen Bretz, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Buber, Thomas Berry, Gregory Bateson, James Hillman, Philip K. Dick, Stuart Guthrie, Evolutionary Religious Studies, Jesus Christ, Satan, Thomas Aquinas, Sallie McFague, John F. Haught, Larry Rasmussen, Matthew Fox, Ilia Delio, J. L Shellenberg, Pauline Le Bel; "The New Atheists": Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens; "Evolutionary Christianity" interviewees: Charles H. Townes, William D. Phillips, Ian Barbour, John Polkinghorne, Joan Chittister, Kenneth R. Miller, Richard Rohr, Ursula King, Gloria Schaab, Diarmuid O'Murchu, Linda Gibler, Mary Southard, Gail Worcelo, John Shelby Spong, Joan Roughgarden, John Cobb, Philip Clayton, Denis Lamoureux, Karl W. Giberson, Owen Gingerich, Edward B. (Ted) Davis, Brian McLaren, Sally Morgenthaler, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke, Ross Hostetter, Jim Burklo, Tom Thresher, Gretta Vosper, Paul Smith, Bruce Sanguin, Ian Lawton, Kevin Kelly, and Michael Morwood.
Part 3: REALITY RULES!
What and where is God in Big History, why does it matter, and in what sense does Big History reveal an evidential way of thinking and speaking about God that is "unarguably, inescapably real"?
How and why is 'personification' the key to A) understanding the world's myths and religions, and B) distinguishing factual from fictional claims about God(s)?
43 minute VIDEO - published July 2014. WATCH
Mentioned in the above video: David Sloan Wilson, Deirdre Barrett, David Brooks, The Apostle Paul, Stephen Jenkinson, and Griefwalker.
Part 4: SIN AND DEATH
How does Big History transform our understanding and experience of human nature, chaos, and death?
How does a 'factual faith' or 'sacred realism' view of our challenges and foibles REALize (naturalize / factualize) ancient mythic wisdom?
30 minute VIDEO - published July 2014. WATCH
Mentioned in the above video: David Christian, Bob Bain, Craig Benjamin, Fred Spier, Cynthia Stokes Brown, Bill Gates, Naomi Oreskes, Erik Conway, AAAS What We Know campaign, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, James Cameron, Years of Living Dangerously, Bill McKibben, David Roberts, James Hansen, Tom Friedman, Paul Gilding, John Englander, Richard Heinberg, James Howard Kunstler, Kathleen Dean Moore, Jorgen Randers, David Gershon, Joanna Macy, Chris Johnstone, John Michael Greer, PZ Myers, Michael Scott Earl, Paul Hawken, Larry Rasmussen, Bron Taylor, Paul Loeb, John Mather, Craig Mello, and Carl Sagan.
Part 5: EVIDENTIAL PROPHETS
How does a factual view of God and revelation clarify our way into the future and call forth unabashedly pro-science prophetic speech?
How are these two core values uniting tens of millions of religious and secular people around the world? (1) Live in right relationship to reality. (2) Ensure a just and healthy future.
49 minute VIDEO - published July 2014. WATCH
Rev. Dowd's Huffington Post blog