“Well, science and religion are not competitors, they’re two different languages trying to tell the same story. There’s room in this world for both.”
– Robert Langdon from “Origin”
Ever since the origin of humanity, we have been trying to find answers to the two fundamental questions regarding our existence: Where do we come from? Where are we going? Allegedly, at the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, Spain, computer genius, futurist and billionaire, Edmond Kirsch, will answer these questions guarded by his own scientific studies and on top of that – partake in the unveiling of groundbreaking discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” Not only that – he also claims that it will destroy any notion of religion or spiritualism for good. Because of angry Catholics who want to protect their religion from any outside danger, Kirsch’s meticulously arranged avant-garde style presentation soon explodes into pandemonium as Kirsch gets brutally murdered. One of the invitees is Harvard Professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, who happens to be Edmund’s old professor and friend. Langdon finds out that Edmond’s video file, saved on his cell phone, is encrypted – and with that, he decides to embark on a perilous quest to find the device and release to humanity what his friend died for.
Well well well … Dan Brown, you did it again. You put our beloved hero, Mr. Langdon, in an impossible spot, forced to solve a puzzle in which the result could determine the beliefs, values, and lives of others.
How would this book be any different from the ones written before? And why would anyone bother to read the exact same plot again?
I’ll tell you. Because believe it or not – this book is in some ways, poles apart from “The Da Vinci Code”, “Angels and Demons” and “Inferno”. Yes, the main character is unfolding an impossible riddle. Yes, there is a beautiful woman beside him on the journey, and yes, religion is a big part of the plot. But the most crucial part of this story is, in fact, one that the author has not embellished upon before, namely science-fiction. Yes. You heard me right. Dan Brown has written a book in which could easily be characterized as one among the computer-geeks, futurists, and astronomists in laboratories.
But fear not, dear readers. Our Robert Langdon is still the same old professor as he always was and always will be: A linguistic academic, classicist, history-nerd and code-breaker. Meaning, for the first time in the history of the Langdon-book-series, our protagonist has very little, better yet, no clue as to what is going on half of the time.
What?? (I can hear all of you crumble in your seats while reading this.) Could the professor have embarked on a mysterious journey that is beyond his intellectual understanding??
Yes. At least from my humble point of view, this book isn’t so much based on the intellectual capacity of Robert Langdon, rather, the brains of the actual hero of the plot; Edmund Kirsch.
Through reading, I found out that Edmund Kirsch is the hero of the story for many reasons. A few of them being:
- His scientific discovery goes beyond himself, meaning; Because he believes so much in the outcome of his findings, he risks doing something that could potentially lead to the execution of his own life.
- All that matters to him is for humanity to lead a better life with the truth, instead of a pleasant lie (which he calls religion)
- When he finds out that he’s most likely going to die under his speech, he deliberately leaves tracks and traces so that Robert Langdon can find the rest of his discovery after the assassination.
- Whatever the discovery will present itself to be, the world knows that his presence and his speech will have had a significant impact on the future of humanity.
Are you still confused as to why I, so arrogantly, claimed that everyone should read this book? Of course, you are! This is nothing but a lame, fantasy-book, pondering a couple of science-fiction theories that have already been done conspiracy-theories on by nerds and geeks across the globe! How could Dan Brown deceive us like that? — That’s what you think, isn’t it? But you’re wrong. This book is so much more than that, and I will show you why by making a list of ideas and key-theories that are discussed in this great work of literature:
The universal conflict between atheism and religion
The very first pages of this book (the prologue) open up with an interesting discussion between an atheist and a Catholic priest; Edmund Kirsch and
Bishop Antonio Valdespino. The transparent passive aggressiveness that’s lurking underneath the lines sets an immediate tone for the rest of the story – hinting to the reader that these opposing ideologies, atheism, and religion, will play a significant role in the remaining lifetime of our hero Edmund Kirsh. When Kirsch opens up to the priest about how he calculated only a twenty percent chance he would accept them meeting (seeing that Kirsch was a famous scientist and a nonbeliever) the priest calmly replies:” The devout can always benefit from listening to nonbelievers. It is in hearing the voice of the devil that we can better appreciate the voice of God.”
This statement leaves you wondering why Kirsch would even be of any threat to the Catholics, regardless of what he has yet to confirm in his speech. However – later that day – when Kirsch holds a private performance on his scientific discoveries to all the influential priests in “The Parliament of the World’s Religions.” – before revealing it to the whole world, no one can believe their eyes or ears. Bishop Valdespino leaves the speech in utter frustration, decisive on the brutality he feels obliged to perform, which is to kill the most powerful religious threat out there; Edmund Kirsch. My thoughts, confused. However, I later concluded that the reason why the threat was so big, was of course – because most of the religious believers in this world, only believe because they’re taught to believe. Few of them actually read the entire work of the Holy Bible, partake in intellectual discussions with their priest or question the symbols and allegories that are tied to a religion. Bishop Valdespino is confident that he’ll never be persuaded in another direction because he has actually looked into his religion and questioned everything there is to question. But he knows that if everyone else gets to hear another truth, they’ll most likely fall for it. My conclusion of all this goes: There will always be a minority of religious individuals who question and devote themselves to biblical knowledge about their questionings. But then, as a result of this, there will always be the majority who believe blindly followed by a familiarity that they were presented with by their community; They believe because it’s convenient, not necessarily because they see the values that come with believing.
The archetypical atheist who believes in a prosperous future world where only one religion dominates; The religion of Technology and Science
And here we have our hero, Edmund Kirsch. On top of being an atheist and a computer-nerd who specializes in mathematics and game-theory, he’s also a hopeless idealist. He wants to change the world; To dimish all war, religious conflict, terror, and torture. He childishly thinks that if the world would have no God, our globe would be consumed with peace at last. Of course, he was too idealistic for his own good. Mr. Langdon doesn’t hesitate with thinking that he’s wrong, neither does the public or the reader (at least myself!) But in some ways, he did get exactly what he wanted. He died in peace, happy at last – because he knew that his theory would be distributed to the world, therefore, his childish notion of a peaceful world could go no existing. Because after all, what exists is only what we make it be, isn’t it?
3. The archetypical villain who – in many ways – we find ourselves sympathizing with
It’s always a plus when we can relate to a villain as it makes it all the more fun to read to the end of the book. We want the hero to succeed, but … at the same time, doesn’t the villain have a point too?
The villain in this story (or more like, villains) are/is the Catholic sovereignty in Spain. Bishop Valdespino desperately wants to save his family’s innocence by preventing Kirsch’s discoveries ever to come out to the public. And can we blame him? This crazy scientist is shamelessly about to destroy all the purity left in this world and no one is trying to stop him??
What I love about “Origin” is that the two opposing factors (the hero and the villain) are in many ways already existing in real life. The fight between the atheist and the religious is a stereotype that has been happening throughout history! And somehow, we can never seem to come to a mutual understanding. Some people believe that – because their ideologies are poles apart from one another – it’s impossible for them to agree. I find myself doubting this theory. What if they can agree? What if – as Mr. Langdon says so brilliantly – “Well, science and religion are not competitors, they’re two different languages trying to tell the same story. There’s room in this world for both.”
I guess it all depends on whether you look at the Bible as a philosophical work full of symbols and visual metaphors, or as a full report on something that actually happened in real life … What do YOU think?
4. Dan Brown’s prophecy in the end is very … very … almost frighteningly true
Okay. Whether it’s Dan Brown’s or his fictional character, Edmund Kirsch’s theory, we cannot know. However – the author did make it up, and to me, it looks like he must have done a significant amount of background work in a scientifical studio to be able to write it down. Because let me tell you … the prophecy about our origin and about where we are going is truer and more astonishing than you think.
Never have I been more shocked when reading a book.
Never have a heard such a bold confession been made into a literary art form.
This is the reason – my friends – to why you absolutely have to read his book. It could open up to many interesting and mindblowing discussions, both online and offline. Because Dan Brown is much more controversial than you might think …
Now, I won’t reveal it to you, because I want you to have the pleasure of reading it for yourself. But be aware – it’s going to be one hell of a ride!
Aftur S. Nerdrum
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