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.