THE BLOG

God in Big History (VIDEOS): Factual Faith, Sacred Realism

07/07/2014 04:41 pm ET | Updated Sep 04, 2014
  • Rev. Michael Dowd Big history/pro-future evangelist, religious naturalist, sacred realist, and bestselling author

Big History is humanity's first and only creation story derived from global collective learning. While secular, it nevertheless reveals a way of thinking and speaking about God that is undeniably and inescapably real.

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.

(To learn more about Big History -- also known as the Epic of Evolution, Great Story, or Universe Story -- see here.)

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. Moreover, we don't merely believe this to be true; we know it. The evidence is compelling, as I discuss in the third video, below, "Reality Rules!"

Today I launch the beta version of a 5-part discussion course for church and secular study groups. Each video can stand alone and be fruitfully watched in any order. (Episodes 3 and 5 are likely to be the most controversial.)

My most recent TEDx talk, "Reality Reconciles Science and Religion" serves as a relatively concise (18-min) introduction to this 5-part video series.

Feedback throughout July and August 2014 is most welcome. In early September I will incorporate suggestions for improvement and upload a final, professionally edited version to my YouTube channel, God in Big History. (All 5 of these videos, and several others, can be accessed here.)

God in Big History: Part 1 of 5 - "The Big Picture" (35 min)

  • What is Big History and why is it important?
  • How does a Big History view of God and religion differ from other approaches?

Mentioned 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, 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 "The Advent of 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.

God in Big History, Part 2 of 5 - "Sacred Science" (35 min)

  • What does Big History reveal about the evolutionary significance of religion and the inspirational significance of science?
  • How have our sources of knowledge and wisdom expanded through time?

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) what we consider 'divine revelation'.

Big History reveals the evolutionary (psychological and social) significance of religion and the religious (inspirational and revelatory) significance of science.

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, 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.

God in Big History, Part 3 of 5 - "Reality Rules!" (43 min)

  • What and where is God in Big History, and why does this matter?
  • 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)?

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, Jesus Christ, 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; "The Advent of 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, Michael Morwood.

God in Big History, Part 4 of 5 - "Sin and Death" (30 min)

  • 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?

Mentioned in the above video: David Sloan Wilson, Deirdre Barrett, David Brooks, The Apostle Paul, Stephen Jenkinson.

God in Big History, Part 5 of 5 - "Evidential Prophets" (49 min)

  • How does a factual view of God and revelation clarify our way into the future and call forth 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.

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.