If the name Dan Brown isn’t immediately familiar to you, I am sure that his work is. Brown is the novelist who wrote The DiVinci Code, the book that went on to become the movie that created so much controversy a few years ago. He followed that up with Inferno, which is set to be made into a motion picture in the near future. Although The Divinci Code wasn’t Brown’s first work, it was the one that propelled him to worldwide fame.
By Brown’s own admission, the premise of his book was hardly original. He took old theories proposed by religious academics years ago and put them into a form palatable for the masses. In doing so, he threw doubt on the Biblical record of the life of Christ, tossed in some sensational scandal, and generally belittled traditional Biblical beliefs.
To be honest, I paid little attention to Brown, his book, or the movie at the time. I chalked it up to “more of the same” from Hollywood and the general secular attitude of our society. But a few days ago Dan Brown caught my attention. Since his newest work has just been released in paperback, Brown is on the publicity tour, pushing his book and the upcoming movie. I saw a few minutes of his interview on CBS This Morning on May 7. I found the exchange between Brown and the show’s hosts to be both instructive, and a bit chilling. He described his childhood:
“I grew up in a very religious household, I went to church, I sang in the choir, (my mom) was the choir director. At the same time I had my dad on the math side, and I had no problem with that until… I started to learn about the “Big Bang” cosmology, and I had to say wait… the Bible says there’s Adam and Eve, and God created the universe. And then there’s the big bang and evolution. And I asked the priest… which story is true? And this priest responded by saying ‘Nice boys don’t ask that question.’ For me that was the moment when I look back on my childhood, that was the moment that I realized this battle between science and religion was a fertile ground and I think I write these books just as an ongoing attempt to figure it all out.”*
To many of you who visit this page, there may be a knee-jerk anti-Catholic reaction to Brown’s statement. I would ask you, respectfully, to set that aside for a moment. As I heard Brown that morning, I thought about my friends who are Pastors. I thought about Sunday School teachers, and children’s ministry workers. I thought about them encountering a young, bright and curious boy in their own churches, asking the same question. I wondered what their answer would be. Frankly, sometimes it is easiest to respond essentially the same way that Dan Brown’s priest did. Oh, we might not use the same words, but we might be tempted to reach for a quick a response that just easily brushes the boy aside without ever really considering the implication of the question.
Fundamentalists are often accused of being antagonistic toward academics in general and science in particular. I have lost count of the times I have heard the “faith versus science” debates. Frankly, I am not sure that I understand the mentality that assumes that faith and knowledge must be at odds. The Bible teaches us that God is truth, and that all knowledge begins and ends with him. God made us as intelligent beings with curiosity, intelligence, the ability to study and to learn. Sadly, too many times our inability to answer “the tough questions” is a result of our failure to study and to prepare ourselves.
In the day in which we live, we are being called upon to answer more and more “tough questions.” Often they come from our youngest members. May God help us to prepare ourselves, through the study of His word and an understanding of the world which he has created, both so that we can be fully persuaded in our own mind and so that we might be a help to those to whom we minister.
By the way, if you’re not sure how to answer a young Dan Brown, here are a few websites that should be of some help. As always, the mention of these sites doesn’t necessarily represent a full endorsement of these organizations, but the material that they offer can be of great value.
* Quotation taken from CBS This Morning, broadcast May 7, 2014.