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Truth vs. Peace


By heath - Posted on 27 July 2005

As you may have read, I have been reading The Da Vinci Code. I finished it last night, so I thought I would record at least one thought about the much read novel. The religious outlook The Da Vinci Code has me somewhat confused. On one hand, it seems that Sophie, Langdon, and Teabing are all in a search for truth. However, in the end, it is only Teabing, and perhaps the Church, that are really seeking truth. Sophie and in the end Langdon, are seeking what might be called peace. In some ways, the book shows the dichotomy that most people see when looking at religion in a pluralistic world. You can either search for truth, or you can search for peace.

A search for peace is only concerned with metaphor and mystery. It is not concerned with truth. Hypocritically, most seekers of peace make no claims to exclusive truth, except that there is none or at least that it cannot be found. Instead, they seem to see the essence of faith as believing without thinking. This is postmodern religion. "How it affects me," is the most important criteria for religion. They have given up on the idea of truth either because they are frustrated by all of the competing claims or the idea of exclusive truth is morally repugnant.

A search for truth, on the other hand, is concerned with how the claims of a religion correspond to reality. These usually end up being either radical atheists out to prove all religions false or religious zealots eager to prove their own superiority. This is modern religion. "How it aligns with objective(scientific) reality," is the most important criteria for religion. Confused about humanity's humble original condition and subsequent fall, they pridefully make all kinds of exclusive claims and gladly divide up humanity between those that are in and those that are out.

Christianity, and in truth all religions I have studied, make truth claims, and they all make exclusive truth claims. Islam claims that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet. Buddhism claims nirvana can be reach by following the eight-fold path. Hinduism makes claims about reincarnation and law of karma. Christianity claims that Jesus Christ is the second person of a Triune God. Judaism claims that YHWH is the one true God. While some of these claims may be compatible, no religion is entirely compatible with another. In fact, most religions have further subdivisions based on irreconcilable interpretive disagreements.

I can hardly believe the statement in The Da Vinci Code that, "those who truly understand their faiths understand the stories are metaphorical." Surely Brown would not have us believe that the only true believers in a religion are those that espouse his own religion, one that rejects all claims to absolute truth. This is truly the height of arrogance.

It is certianly true that there have been some dastardly religious people in human history. There are so-called Christians that rank among the top. However, if one truly understands the scriptures one can see that the writers did not intended to put down women as Brown claims but to move their cultures to the ideal of equality. They did not seek to hold up current political or societal power structures, they stood outside of and usually against them.

Christianity invites all those with a critical mind to investigate its claims and experience true peace. Grace and Peace begins many of Paul's letters. Grace speaks of the objective fact that Christ has paved the way for the adoption as sons for all that will believe. And Peace speaks of the ever widening harmony God desires to pour out upon humanity. True seeks of truth and peace will be both satisfied and challenged if they would humble themselves and look for one outside them selves for safety. He eagerly awaits.
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Did you finish the book Heath?  What did you think overall? 

Brown has claimed he wants to try and open up a new genre of historical education through fiction ( I saw him say that in an interview).  Scary thought.

 

It was pretty disturbing.  He makes a decent story of it, and he is at times fairly convincing.  The only problem is the he hides a lot of the facts and skews others.

It is scary that many read this as Brown intends and believe that it is based on the truth.

It must be nice to make all kinds of scholarly assertions without having to fall under peer review or criticism from peers.  I think it is pretty dishonest, all in all.

Ya, historians everywhere must be jealous of Brown's ability to know facts about the past without the use of historical methodologies of discovery to determine likely truths.  Like you said, he does intentionally leave out facts and makes them up when the story needs.  It is quite dishonest, especially given the virtue Brown wishes to extol in his characters, namely fair minded truth hunting.

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