Dan Brown continues probing religion

Latest book follows familiar formula of suspense,history

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NEW YORK — Dan Brown is once again taking on the big questions.

“Will God survive science?” asks the author of the blockbuster “The Da Vinci Code” and other philosophical-religious thrillers during a recent interview. “All the gods of our past have fallen. So the question now is: Are we naive to think the gods of today won’t suffer the same fate?”

His new novel is “Origin,” already a chart-topper on Amazon.com, and for Brown fans a familiar blend of travelogue, history, conspiracies and whodunit, with asides on everything from the poetry of William Blake to the rise and fall of fascism in Spain.

Brown protagonist Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbologist, is in Spain and back in danger. A former student, Edmond Kirsch, has been assassinated just as he’s ready to unveil a scientific-technological breakthrough that he promises will bring about the downfall of Western religion and revolutionize how people think of life and death. Langdon, with the help of a prince’s wayward lover and a voice of artificial intelligence named Winston, attempts to find out what Kirsch had planned.

“The Da Vinci Code” outraged church officials and scholars with such suggestions as Jesus and Mary married and had children. Brown acknowledged that the controversy led him to avoid larger religious questions in his follow-up novel, “The Lost Symbol,” but his skepticism remains. A native and longtime resident of New Hampshire, he remembered visiting Boston’s Museum of Science as a boy and being confused by the theory of evolution and how it contradicted the story of Adam and Eve. Back home, Brown asked a priest about the differences.

“This guy said, ‘Nice boys don’t ask that question.’ I did what every little boy does, I started asking the questions,” he says. “I gravitated towards science. Faith became difficult for me.”