Monday, September 14, 2009

Teabing's (And Dawkins') Folly

Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code has been controversial to many Christians, for a wide variety of reasons.

At the heart of most Christian objections to The Da Vinci Code is the treatment of Jesus Christ not as divine, but essentially as an ordinary mortal man with a powerful message who left a family behind him.

The film, quite naturally, has been just as controversial as the novel.

In each, Dr Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is a Harvard anthropologist who gets caught up in intrigue when he's summoned to the crime scene where Jacques Saunière lay murdered.

Dr Langdon is a suspect in the case, and eventually runs to an older friend, sir Leigh Teabing (sir Ian McKellen) for help.

With the help of Teabing and Sophie Neveau (Audrey Tautou), Dr Langdon outmaneuvers French Police Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) and Bishop Manuel Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) in order to discover the secret of the Priory: nothing less than the Holy Grail.

At the heart of Dr Langdon's quest is actually the intent of one man -- Teabing -- to destroy at the very least the Catholic Church.

In many ways Teabing seems to closely resemble Richard Dawkins, the avowed leader of the global fundamentalist atheist movement. Among the various complaints Dawkins registers against religion is that it is a force of oppression. Not only does Dawkins insist that religion oppresses women and minorities, but Dawkins insists that religion oppresses rational intellect.

He describes faith as a "virus", and clearly yearns for the same fate humankind wishes on any viral infection -- its outright destruction.

In these sentiments Dawkins is closely echoed by many of his fellow atheists -- individuals like Michel Onfray, and by the intellectually-crippled members of the Rational Response Squad.

Teabing belives that the revelation that Christ had left a lineage behind him would invalidate the power of the Catholic Church and destroy it.

But with the Catholic Church remaining quite central to the lives of nearly one billion people only a madman would want to see that institution destroyed considering the kind of social and political unrest that would follow.

But people like the fictional sir Leigh Teabing and the real-life Richard Dawkins tend to be individuals of miniscule imagination. They cannot comprehend the possible consequences of their actions becuase they cannot see beyond their own dogmatic beliefs.

That is the ultimate folly of those who believe they know so well what is best for all humankind that they are willing to destroy millenia-old institutions.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I stumbled across your blog today while looking for some unimportant bit of info on The DaVinci Code, and decided to give this post a read. I still haven't perused much of your blog, but what little I have seen seems interesting, even while I as yet can't figure you out. No matter, I'm going to take this post in isolation and respond to it, because I find your position interesting.

    I am a Christian, but I like to think of myself as open-minded, so I read DaVinci (I still have never seen the whole of the movie) and frankly, I found it a satisfying read. Christians railing against thew book have rightfully pointed out its many flaws in the area of its background information, while others have called it schlocky writing, but I enjoyed it.

    There are some things I never got about the thing though, and your post brings up some of those issues. First of all, I'll say in brief that the possibility of Jesus having married and raised one or more children does not (in my view at least) pose a serious threat to the veracity of Christianity.

    Secondly, and more to the point of what you write about here, I don't really understand why there is a value in allowing Christianity (or any other religion) to continue its existence if it is provably false. I think the support of the truth is more noble than the quest for stability. Even the Apostle Paul said in one of his epistles that if the resurrection of Jesus is not reality, then Christians are the most pitiable people in the world, because not only are we just as lost as everyone else, but we're also deluded liars.

    Dawkins can be sort of a dick about religious issues, especially since he's not a theologist, but a biologist, and therefore really ought to stick with defending evolutionary theory, his real strength. However, I think he's right about two things: religion *is* a memetic virus (although that's not necessarily such a bad thing, especially if it's true), and the truth is more important than people's feelings. Just because I happen to feel that pretty much all his other views on religion are wrong, that doesn't change the fact I admire him in those two points.

    Anyway, just thought I'd give my two cents on the matter, and I'll read some more of your blog.


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