13 Brown is not a conspiracy theorist
Books Origin asks if God will survive science Thursday, October 5, 2017
The latest in Dan Brown’s series of high-flying airport conspiracy thrillers starring tweedy Harvard symbology prof Robert Langdon was born the first time he heard Missa Charles Darwin, a piece of music coincidentally composed by his brother, Gregory W. Brown, that combined Darwin’s writing with a standard liturgical mass.
As soon as he heard it, Brown was brought back to childhood, when he first learned stories of creation, and Adam and Eve, and “wondered which story was true.” For the author of the The Da Vinci Code, who obviously favours the historical and perhaps heretical, the chance to explore human origins, religion and Darwin seemed, well, a natural choice.
But Brown had more in mind for the fifth instalment in his blockbuster series.
“That was on the table, but I didn’t really want to write about it,” Brown recalled this week. “My editor said, ‘I’d love you to write about Darwin. Evolution could be interesting.’ I said, ‘What I really want to write about is where we’re going. I want to write about the future.’ He asked, ‘Could you do both?’ I said, ‘No, that’s not possible.’
“And he said, ‘Oh, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.’”
Of course, Brown was never one to shy away from untangling a Byzantine puzzle and Origin became a years-long obsession for the 53-year-old, and what resulted is a typically fleet-footed tale about religion, technology, art, architecture, science, and the beginning and end of the world. Well, it’s all around us. It affected the election in my country. It affects all of us. What has happened is that news is entertainment because now every single person with a cellphone is a broadcast news station. You can videotape anything and can distribute it to the world. There is no curator for the World Wide Web. People say whatever they want. Oh yeah, definitely. I spent plenty of time looking at their language, looking at the kind of stories they run, looking at the reactions. It’s astonishing because there are plenty of intelligent people who buy into conspiracies. A lot of people say: “Oh Dan, you’re a conspiracy theorist.” I do not believe that aliens have visited the planet or that they’re on ice in Area 51. I’m pretty sure we did land on the moon, OK? No, I’m a skeptic.
The reason I’m very excited about this book is that we’re living in a time when our species is letting go of its superstitions and religion is a superstition. Theirs are claims that are not quantifiable. It doesn’t make them untrue .... It’s hard to keep faith and a rational mind simultaneously. We’re all struggling with it. Langdon chooses topics, not by coincidence, that fascinate me. He and I share a fascination in history and the power of religion and in art. How does technology fit in? As far as Langdon knows, it doesn’t, then he falls into this world and he realizes it absolutely does.
Technology is changing the face of our philosophies at a very fast pace. It is challenging the world’s religions in a way that is now striking at the very core of religious belief. And I have sensed a chasm opening up across many cultures between the believers and the non-believers. You know, I don’t. This will sound naive, but I was shocked The Da Vinci Code caused controversy. I grew up in a house where I was encouraged to ask difficult questions without repercussions. And I wrote a book that said, “What does it mean for Christianity if Jesus isn’t the son of God, if he’s a normal prophet?” It seemed like a perfectly reasonable question to ask, but not everybody agreed. This time, I’ve asked: “Will God survive science?” I guess we’ll just see what happens.
American writer Dan Brown is back with Origin, the latest novel about symbology professor Robert Langdon’s adventures.