Full Bio

DALE McGOWAN has one foot in arts, the other in sciences, and the other in nonreligious life. He double-majored in music and evolutionary anthropology at UC Berkeley, then studied film scoring at UCLA before conducting a college orchestra while earning a Ph.D. in Composition from the University of Minnesota.


While an associate professor at St. Catherine University, Dale taught music theory, music history, and orchestration, as well as interdisciplinary courses centered on writing and critical thinking, earning the university’s Faculty Teaching Award for his innovative approach. His compositions won recognition in the Boston Art Song and American Composers Forum competitions and have been premiered in the US and UK.

Writing and Nonreligious Life

Dale has written extensively about science, music, parenting, and the interface between religious belief and unbelief. His books include Sharing Reality, Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, Voices of Unbelief, Atheism For Dummies, In Faith and in Doubt, and the satirical novels Calling Bernadette’s Bluff and Good Thunder, and his articles have appeared in venues including the Huffington Post and Washington Post online. Dale’s perspectives on nonreligious life have been featured in the New York Times, NPR, USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, Salon, CNN, and the PBS News Hour. He was named Harvard Humanist of the Year in 2008 for his work in nonreligious parenting.

Philanthropic Work

Beginning in 2006, Dale served as US Communications Coordinator for Nonviolent Peaceforce, a global civilian peacekeeping organization. In 2009, he founded the humanist nonprofit Foundation Beyond Belief. Under his leadership, FBB became the world’s largest humanist charity, raising over $2 million for philanthropic projects worldwide, launching a network of more than 125 humanist volunteer teams in the U.S., and creating groundbreaking disaster recovery and international service programs for the nonreligious community. His philanthropic work has been profiled in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times. He was named FBB’s Humanist Visionary in 2015.


Dale is managing editor of nonreligious writers at Patheos, the world’s largest website for multi-belief opinion. He teaches music at Oglethorpe University, is at work on a book about how music communicates emotion, and hosts the How Music Does That podcast.

Dale and his wife Becca, an award-winning elementary teacher, live near Atlanta with their three children.

Contact Dale

Copyright © Dandelion by Pexeto