Darwin drives Da Vinci’s Dan?

By Russell Grigg

Book covers of The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail

What (apart from money) motivates a man like Dan Brown to write a book like The Da Vinci Code, with its blatant attack on the deity of Christ and the authority of the Bible, its attempt to rewrite history and reinterpret Christianity, and its promotion of sexual promiscuity? (See ‘The Da Vinci Code: Fiction Masquerading as Fact’; also ‘The Da Vinci Code: The Church is Mobilizing’; also ‘The Da Vinci Code Movie’, response to Da Vinci Code apostate, and some feedback on the Last Supper errors of Leonardo himself).

Some part of the answer is given in Dan Brown’s Witness Statement before Judge Peter Smith in the British High Court, London (27 Feb–7 April 2006), where Brown defended a charge of plagiarism brought against him and (technically) his publisher, Random House, by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, co-authors of the equally fruitloopy book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Indeed, the name of the main antagonist in The Da Vinci Code, Leigh Teabing, is derived from the surname of the latter and an anagram of the former.

In his sworn Witness Statement, Brown said (inter alia):

Paragraph 39: ‘Both in prep school and college, I had studied science, including that of Galileo, modern cosmology, and Darwin. I also attended church camp and was trying to reconcile science and religion in my own mind. My parents’ opposing views (my father an agnostic mathematician and my mother a religious church musician) made for an interesting childhood. I grew up surrounded by the paradoxical philosophies of science and religion, and though I wanted to believe in Christianity, as I got older and studied more science, I had a hard time reconciling the two. I once asked a priest how I could believe both the ‘the Big Bang’ and the story of Genesis, and the ‘matter of faith’ type response I received never answered my questions. At college, I completed a cosmology course that included a section on Copernicus, Bruno, Galileo, and the Vatican Inquisition against science. Science and religion was a very large part of my life from grade school all the way through college, and I wanted to make them harmonious on a personal level.’
… though I
wanted to believe in Christianity, as I got older and studied more science, I had a hard time reconciling
the two.
Dan Brown’s willingness to ‘make a buck’ by attacking the beliefs and concepts that Christians hold dear springs from the fact that no one, it seems, was able to answer his youthful questions about science (particularly Darwinism) and religion, and to show him that there is no conflict between the Bible and true science—this includes the science of Galileo! It is hardly the first example of church leaders disobeying the biblical commands to ‘give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’ (1 Peter 3:15) and to ‘destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5). See also Apologetics Q&A.
Paragraph 40: ‘So, I began reading books on science and religion, including The God Particle (D.47), The Tao of Physics, The Physics of Immortality, The Quark and the Jaguar, and others. The recurring theme that excited me was the idea that science and religion were now dabbling in common areas. These two ancient enemies were starting to find shared ground. …’

What a pity Dan Brown didn’t read books by scientists who are evangelical Christians, instead of these ‘new age’ sources, from the huge range of these now available from various creation ministry organizations, including Creation Ministries International.

A Judges gavel
Paragraph 41: ‘This was how I ended up writing Angels & Demons—a science vs. religion thriller set within a Swiss physics laboratory and Vatican City. The grey area that interested me was the ongoing battle between science and religion, and the faint hope of reconciliation between the two.’

As we have said often, the facts of science are interpreted through the filter of the worldview of the observer. Dan Brown’s ‘battle between science and religion’ is actually a ‘battle’ between a worldview that says that God does not exist (or is irrelevant for all practical purposes) and a worldview that says that God is the ultimate reality.

Paragraph 209: ‘… Being raised Christian and having attended Bible camp, I am well aware that Christ’s crucifixion (and ultimate resurrection) serves as the very core of the Christian faith. It is the promise of life everlasting and that which makes Jesus the ‘Christ’. The resurrection is perhaps the sole controversial Christian topic about which I would not dare write; suggesting a married Jesus is one thing, but undermining the resurrection strikes at the very heart of Christian belief.’

True, but what about attacking the veracity of the Word of God? This has been Satan’s objective from the very first temptation, recorded in Genesis 3:1, ‘Did God really say …?’.

In his 71-page verdict, Judge Peter Smith cleared Dan Brown and Random House of copyright infringement. Brown admitted that he and his wife, Blythe, had read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, but said they had also used some 38 other books and hundreds of documents. Smith noted that Brown had depended heavily on the research done by his wife, Blythe, so much so that Brown could not give clear answers as to when he had first read Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Smith wrote:

‘I do not believe he [Brown] consciously lied. His failure to address these points in my view shows once again that the reality of his research is that it is superficial.’1

The judge was deeply irritated by the absence of Mrs Blythe Brown, who stayed at home in New Hampshire, USA, during the trial. He suspected that she did not want to admit that she had read Holy Blood, Holy Grail far earlier than her husband believed she had.1

Judge Smith further commented: ‘It is a testament to cynicism in our times that there have been suggestions that this action is a collaborative exercise designed to maximise publicity for both books … I am not in a position to comment on whether this cynical view is correct.’2

Be that as it may, Holy Blood, Holy Grail was selling a modest 3,500 copies per year, but leapt to nearly 7,000 per week in Britain during the trial. This no doubt will help Baigent and Leigh pay the $1.5 million defendants’ legal fees awarded against them. Sales of The Da Vinci Code jumped by 57 per cent immediately after the trial began in February, and sold 500,000 copies in one week in USA after its release there in paperback on March 28.2,3

  1. ‘Judge rejects ‘Da Vinci Code’ plagiarism claim’, CTV.ca, 19/07/2006 Return to text.
  2. Rayner, G., and Quinn, B., ‘Code author clear as book sales soar’, The Sunday Mail, Brisbane, April 9, 2006, p. 5. Return to text.
  3. Serpe, G., ‘Judge Disses ‘Da Vinci’ Lawsuit’, Apr 7, 2006, E! Online News, 19/07/2006 Return to text.
Published: 4 August 2006