Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Da Vinci Code – The Glorification of Trash!!!

Believe nothing against another but on good authority; and never report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to some other to conceal it……William Penn

[NOTE: I refer the reader, in particular to the notes below relating to Chap 55 which deal with the most offensive and blasphemous statements in the book and which constitute the underlying message of the book in relation to the Divinity of Christ, the founding of the Church and the authenticity of the Gospels]

I never cease to be amazed by human ignorance. Some weeks ago I came across the following quote by Konrad Hermann Josef Adenauer (January 5, 1876 – April 19, 1967), a conservative German statesman who was Chancellor of West Germany from 1949-1963. He states "In view of the fact that God limited the intelligence of man, it seems unfair that he did not also limit his stupidity". NO statement could be truer…. And the response to the Da Vinci Code is a prime example of how even those who suppose themselves to be the crème de la crème of human intelligence are exposing the extent of their ignorance.

The largest disappointment I have about this whole affair, is that people with PhD’s (or even a Masters) who are supposedly trained to question and investigate and yet seem to be absolutely incapable of seeing through the trash that exists in this book. It is not only disappointing, it is scary – because if these people are not capable of utilizing the skills they were supposedly taught, then I am led to one of two conclusions – either their degrees are phony or their brains are lacking in neurons!!!

I have written previously with great seriousness but this entry is certainly going to have its share of humor and sarcasm!!!

I am going to review the book as a lay man by which I mean that 1. I am not an historian nor 2. do I belong, have any affiliation (although I wish I did) or otherwise with Opus Dei - I will write as a lay man writes from the research that I have done and with the limitations of my knowledge which I willingly and humbly admit to. However what I do say I will check and confirm to ensure, that unlike Mr. Brown, I get my facts right!!!!

For more detailed reference please read the books that respond to Mr. Brown’s lies such as “The Da Vinci Hoax” by Carl E. Olson and Sandra Miesel, and others that are available and read REAL history books.

All I can say is that I sometimes wish I had the capacity to write so much trash that would earn me so many millions of dollars – or maybe I should not wish so, because it also seems to be a good generalization to state that wisdom grows inverse in proportion to wealth (although there are exceptions to the rule). Let us now get to the book.

The immense ignorance of the author himself is beyond belief. It is amazing that anyone should be so absolutely ignorant of facts and the truth and yet be able to face the world unabashed. I guess it says much about the world as it says about him!!!

The Back Cover

The reviews themselves are a farce, to say the least and to be absolutely polite. It seems scary more than it is absurd that in this modern day where we pride so much in our intelligence, the New York Times is the new goal setting, intelligence gauging measure of literature, history and truth!!!

I do not wish to appear disrespectful however I cannot but laugh at the reviews… If I failed to laugh, I would end up being insane with disbelief!!!

Nelson Demille, #1 New York Times bestselling author appears to obviously have a distorted concept of intelligence. He says “Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and most accomplished writers in the country. The Da Vinci Code is many notches above the intelligent thriller; this is pure genius”

On the other hand Harlan Coben , best selling author of “Tell No One” obviously did not major in history or maybe even understand the pure dictionary meaning of “history” !!!, given the comment that it is “perfect for history buffs”

Robert Crais states that “Dan Brown has built a world that is rich in fascinating detail…” – this of course would depend on what lens you look at things. If I look at the stars through a microscope – I could give a lot of detail about ….. well…. I guess about NOTHING – oh!!! Unless of course, I gave a lot of detail about my imagination!!

Vince Flynn says that it is as “eye-opening as it is page-turning” which makes me wonder whether Mr. Flynn has ever considered that a blind man’s eyes are also open but he still sees nothing!!!! He also calls the book a “thriller’. defines “Thriller” as “One that thrills, especially a sensational or suspenseful book, story”. In this respect to me a thriller would be a story that would keep me suspended to the end and not tells me who killed who right on the first page!!! - however this is but a minor problem.

Acknowledgements and “Fact”

Just one comment – If, as a scientist, I acknowledged sources the way Mr. Brown did, I would be looking for another job by now…..I say this because if one is going to be placing the comments that Mr. Brown places in the “Fact” section, one would hope that his sources and the documents utilized would be more clearly defined. The comment I am referring to is “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.This statement summarizes the book – the most outstanding of lies!!!

This page is by far the most disturbing page of the book since Brown is stating what he calls fact in the novel, when in actual fact his “facts” are fantasies that have long been displaced by truth or rather to be more accurate long-preceded by the truth. He literally, intentionally avoids the true facts available throughout history from an extensive database of information to include as “truth” his own personal views, agendas etc, and those of others that like himself, may have clearly undergone a serious psychotic episode of delusion. I do not say this lightly or even as a joke – to me it is immensely frightening at how easy deceit can be accepted as truth without question; at how easy it is to write or say something without any foundation and to be believed!!!

Chap 2:

1. “Finally, he spoke. “You have done a great service to God” ….

These words were spoken to the monk, Silas. That any one should be said to have done God a great service to God in killing someone else is totally absurd and goes against any Catholic teaching. Not that there may not be anyone read to kill but no one can kill for a reason as described in the book or otherwise and be justified in their act.

This is made clear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The following are a number of passages from the CCC in reference to “killing”.

2268 The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.

2269 The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person's death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger…………………Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone's death, even without the intention to do so.”

2. “One hour, he told himself, grateful that the Teacher had given him time to carry out the necessary penance………absolution required sacrifice”

The CCC teaches – please see in particular the bold/underlined statements - these are the statements that most pertain to rebutting what is being stated:

1430 Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.

1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one's life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).”

The pain that the catechism speaks about is a sacrifice but it is an interior pain – animi cruciatus – an affliction of the spirit!!! And “corporeal mortification” is useless in the absence of “repentance of heart”

Chap 5:

1. Regarding Opus Dei, the book states that its founder, Josemaria Escriva, “promoted a return to conservative Catholic values and encouraged its members to make sweeping sacrifices in their own lives in order to do the Work of God

We are all called to make sacrifices. Take sports and health – how hard it is to be fit and to keep fit, but how rewarding the benefits are. No excellence is achieved without sacrifice and this applies for the body as well as for the soul. The catechism teaches:

2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes….”

The words of wisdom of William Penn, Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, English religious leader and colonist (1644 - 1718) also come to mind “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.

2. Sadly, all of these events had helped spawn the new watch group known as the Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN)” and the story continues by giving the website and relating that one would find “frightening stories” from former Opus Dei members.

I will simply pose a question at this point: what makes this website and organization any more believable than Opus Dei and If one wishes to present sources of information one needs to put all of them on the table and not the ones that suit oneself.

Furthermore it is quite easy to find disgruntled members anywhere which reminds me of the wisdom of Aesop in the fable of The Fox and the Sour Grapes (which were the grapes he could not reach!!!)

3. “We fear what we do not understand”

This quote summarizes everything – from the book to Dan Brown!!! This is the whole problem. It is a fear of what he does not understand. It is a fear of the truth or maybe better put a fear of facing reality!!! It’s like Herod who ended up killing John the Baptist. The only motive was that the truth stung Herodias (and Herod) too much. Dan Brown and many like him find the teachings of the Church offensive, scary etc… etc…. and THEY fear the church as well as organizations such as Opus Dei because the Teachings of the Church challenge their insecurity. Thus being unable to absorb any of the truths that come to us through the Church from Christ, one (like Dan Brown and others like him) ends up filling up their inner space with garbage – and as we say “Garbage in, Garbage out

Organizations such as Opus Dei (and there are several of them) are very intimidating in today’s world where liberal theology, self-conceived morality, individualism, narcissism and a sickly progressivism are the order of the day. Even the word theology, these days needs definition because the “theo” part of it does not, very often pertain to the one true God, but more of what you could I guess call “self-deism”.

True Catholic teachings along with those who follow the truth are an irritation, a target for slander and mockery – only because they are a stand as a contradiction to modern social abnormal norms. In fact very often, the actions that we observe around us appear more as signs of desperation because ultimately, the devil and those that follow him and do his work know that there can never be a final victory for evil. Works such as Dan Brown’s novel and others like him fall into this category – it is ultimately their desperate attempt to hide or run away from their own inequities, inferiorities, discomforts etc. etc. that they do not have the courage to face.

4. “Jesus’ message is one of peace…..of nonviolence….of love…………Those who threaten God with force will be met with force.

The thoughts described at the end of chapter 5 relating to the thoughts going through Silas’ head about his “mission” to supposedly save Christianity through his actions reflect confusion of the Christian message, confusion in the understanding of what Christianity is all about and even one would have to say historical confusion.

Why the latter? Well it seems, as you read through scientific and historical literature that there is a tendency amongst some who wish to push their own agenda to portray humans of years ago as ignorant and often with an underdeveloped capacity to think – maybe evolutionarily, developmentally and intellectually handicapped. This concept is only applied where it suits people however.

Therefore, in a book such as Dan Brown’s, he makes it sound as if from the earliest of times of Christianity there was a global understanding and agenda of deception aimed at controlling the world. This does not take into consideration the cultural, intellectual and physical limitations that people of the time had.

Simply put – without being condescending – and may Jesus and all the apostles forgive me for this – according common modern thinking, as well as potentially certain things mentioned in the Gospels themselves, the apostles were too “stupid” to have the capacity to think, plan and act out such a grandiose plan as put forward by Dan Brown and others…..Well I guess Jesus will forgive me because he himself said “I give praise to you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike” (Mt 11:25). The truth of the reality however IS that the apostles themselves did not understand Jesus’ message sometimes even when it was staring them in the face.

Ultimately what Dan Brown and colleagues do not understand is that Christ’s message requires not human strength and power but humility and servitude. Jesus himself reflects this in his comment to Pilate “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here” (John 18:36). And it may be this that such people fear – the fact that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. This way they feel they do not have control over things and it makes them insecure. It boils down to self-conceit resulting in the spewing of hatred – the labeling as sour the grapes we cannot reach.

Think about it – How many times a day, a week etc. do we do this with one thing or another???

Chap 6:

1. “Nowadays, the term pagan had become almost synonymous with devil worship……. ‘Pagans’ where literally unindoctrinated country-folk who clung to the old, rural religions of Nature worship”

This is the problem with Dan Brown – He literally shoots himself down. Many statements in his book show how absolutely ignorant he can be even at the simple level.

I am not so sure which dictionary he got this definition from (possibly his wife’s), however in three separate dictionaries, coincidentally from three different continents, nowhere did I find the mention of devil worship.

The most recent dictionary available to me was the “Revised and updated Illustrated Oxford Dictionary” (Revised 2000) which states “1. a person not subscribing to any of the main religions of the world 2. a person following a polytheistic or pantheistic religion”.

Even his use of “unindoctrinated” is unwarranted. One of the dictionaries I looked up states that the word comes from the Latin meaning “civilian”. Now civilians may have been uneducated but where does the concept of indoctrination come in??? I guess one can put it down to dyslexia or ignorance on the side of the author!!!

Little else needs to be said – You can tell the direction the donkey is coming from, from its braying!!!!

2. “….the pentacle’s demonic interpretation is historically inaccurate” He then goes on to describe his understanding of its origin.

This is another one of those blunders by Brown especially since as in the other cases he gives no reference for his conclusion. One thing is certainly true, the catholic church has not pushed for the demonic interpretation of the pentacle – it is the Satanists themselves that use it and leave it as a symbol of their presence in the various places they frequent.

I fuss about references, because for a book that states that it has any form of accuracy at the very beginning of it, one would expect some proof of what is said. Had the statement not been made my expectations would certainly be less.

3. “…..the Vatican’s campaign to eradicate pagan religions and convert the masses to Christianity…….take over the existing symbols and degrade them over time in an attempt to erase their meaning”

There is some truth in this statement but in it is woven a lot of untruth. The concept that the church applied and still applies is the utilization of pagan symbols and their “incorporation” into the faith with an altered meaning – I guess the word “symbol transformation” would be more accurate. I am sure I would be correct in saying that whenever the Church tried to do otherwise it failed. What the Church ensures is that there is no worship of other “gods”. This is reasonable given that like our Jewish brothers and sisters we stand by the 10 commandments one of which is “I, the Lord am your God… shall not have other gods beside me” (Exodus, 20:2 -3). To do otherwise would be hypocritical teaching.

This is by no means indoctrination – it is refocusing - a relearning. This is not indoctrination. Indoctrination is the involuntary imposition of a belief – which works short term but not long term and communism is a good example of the failure of indoctrination.

Chap 7.

1. “the Pope placed an often century-long waiting period for canonization to a mere twenty years”

This is just one of the sentences in a paragraph about Opus Dei. Again Brown shows his ignorance of what beautification and the process to sainthood involve. Furthermore he clearly shows a lack of understanding of who Pope John Paul II was and what he was all about. The idea of canonization is that firstly that the church is saying that there is no doubt the person is in heaven, and secondly that this person was a person, though not without faults, but in all his/her humanity served God and his/her good deeds stand as an example that we should follow.

Chap 8.

1. “Da Vinci……was a flamboyant homosexual and worshipper of Nature’s divine order, both of which placed him in a perpetual state of sin against God”

2. “He incorporated in many of his Christian paintings hidden symbolism that was anything but Christian…..”

Again, these are “heavy accusations” – Where’s proof??? Da Vinci must twist and turn in his grave when he hears what is said about him in his absence. The author again includes nothing to substantiate such a claim.

3. “…..modern Church’s demonization of the goddess….nothing has done more to erase that history [history of the goddess] than the Catholic Church”

The Catholic Church is an extension of the Judaism – it is the fulfillment of Judaism. Therefore in the same way that a child cannot come into being without the presence of a father, Catholicism could not have come into being without Judaism. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we owe Judaism A LOT of respect and love. Now Judaism never had the concept of “goddess” therefore it is absolutely unfounded to say that the church lately demonized the goddess. The truth is that the church from its infancy in the womb of Judaism NEVER paid any respects to any goddess as that would have amounted to paganism/idolatry. Judaism’s foundation as well as it currently exists now, is totally based on monotheism – and the Church’s foundation is the same – there simply never was another option available. This is an insult to our Jewish brothers and sisters as it is to Catholics or Christians as a whole.

Chap 15.

1. “His Service to God today had required the sin of murder, and it was a sacrifice Silas knew he would have to hold silently in his heart for all eternity.”

A statement like this makes you not just wonder about Dan Brown’s intelligence but truly come to the conclusion that the man has NO intelligence and potentially a vacuum between his ears.

God is ALL righteousness and goodness; God CANNOT EVER require sin. God and sin are a contradiction that do not go together. Where there is light there cannot be darkness and vice versa. It does not require much intelligence to understand that opposites do NOT go together. If you bounce a ball and it is going up, it is not going down at the same time unless you bring relativity into it. However, in this respect, speaking of God, we are talking about an infinite absolute – i.e. absolute goodness. What is absolutely good (to the fullest extent) cannot tolerate evil. I could go on, however I do not honestly think you can getting a concept that is any more easily understood!!! Is this not common sense??

Hence the presence of Hell – God sends NOBODY to hell, however in his infinite goodness, He had to create a place for those that did not and do not want to be with him i.e. to put it very simply all He was doing was a favor to those who want to be away from Him by creating a place for them.

Chap 26

1. “the background behind her face is uneven…..”Da Vinci painted the horizon line on the left significantly lower than the right”

This is said regarding the Mona Lisa. I am no arts expert but far from taking Dan Brown’s words I looked up the paintings he talks about. For one, there is NO horizon in the Mona Lisa. “Horizon” is defined as the line at which the sky and earth appear to meet. There is NO line in the Mona Lisa and the unevenness is because of the mountains.

2. “So we have the male god Amon……..And the female goddess, Isis, whose ancient pictogram was once called L’ISA”

Here Brown tries to link the name Mona Lisa (which came long after the painting was done – according to real historians) to Egyptian gods – of course, as is characteristic in the whole book without any reference or evidence.

Chap 28

1. This chapter deals inaccurately (what’s new!!!!), without any historical evidence, in fact by selective omission of historical evidence with the following:

a) the Priory of Sion which according to Dan Brown was founded by the Knights Templars when in reality it was invented by a prankster in France who implanted “documents” into various libraries in France in the 1940’s. This is known because the case appeared in front of the courts!!!

b) the role of the emperor Constantine’s in “obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever”. This, with the innuendoes in the rest of the book is directed at denying the Divinity of Christ and to conclude that Christ’s Divinity was invented by Constantine for his own purposes.

c) He also states that “During three hundred years of witch hunts, the Church burned at the stake an astounding five million women”. This fact is also not substantiated in any way and furthermore, Christian and non-Christian historians put the number down to not more than in the thousands. Given the population of the known world in those days, this would have amounted to the equivalent of wiping out countries!!!

I have to say once again and I am sure I will repeat it again before the end ….. The scariest part of Dan Brown novel and his “Facts” is the fact that Brown ignores established proven fact for his own fantasies and those of others.

Chap 32

1. “Madonna of the Rocks……..The painting showed a blue-robed Virgin Mary sitting with her arm around an infant child, presumably Baby Jesus…....Oddly, though, rather than the usual Jesus-blessing John scenario, it was baby John who was blessing Jesus…and Jesus was submitting to his authority!”

What a load of hogwash!!! These are only a couple of the sweeping statements that Brown makes that clearly reflect his ignorance in art and the absence of research. Firstly, Brown totally reverses Jesus and John the Baptist in the paintings. It is JESUS who is BLESSING and JOHN who is “submitting to his authority”. If Brown had only looked at paintings of the time around when Leonardo Da Vinci lived or even looked at Da Vinci’s own painting of John the Baptist, he would have noted that John the Baptist was in many cases drawn with the thin narrow stick with a cross at the top, while Jesus is shown with the three fingers extending his blessing (I suspect but am not sure that the number three reflects the Holy Trinity). I do NOT claim to know the reason/significance for this so I will NOT (like Brown) come up with my own conclusions.

Brown also certainly has a distorted capacity to interpret body language given his interpretation of the “cutting gesture….as if slicing the neck of the invisible head gripped by Mary’s claw-like hand.” of the Angel’s hand and the “eagle’s talons gripping an invisible head” on the blessed Virgin Mary.

Chap 34

1. “……Opus Dei constituency and their bankroll – to persuade the Pope and his advisers that softening the Church’s laws was not only faithless and cowardly, but political suicide”

This baseless statement is among many in this chapter including speculation about Vatican Council II, calling it a “fiasco” and its repercussion on lower church attendance.

What Brown does not realize is that Pope John Paul II needed little pushing from anyone let alone Opus Dei to maintain and stand by the truth that the Church has taught for centuries. To this extent Brown should have read the immense volume of secular literature that criticized the same Pope so much for his unwavering teachings on chastity in general, chastity in the priesthood, on homosexuality, contraception, abortion as well as underlying message in Veritatis Splendor relating to Christ and the Church as the source of salvation!!!

Where, I ask, was the Pope liberal??? Teaching the unbending truth taught by Christ and handed down from the apostles is NOT liberal in any way or form – and that is why the Church STILL stands after 2000 years, and will CONTINUE to stand, as a contradiction to the secular society.

Furthermore, not only did Pope John Paul II not have his hands tied behind his back by Opus Dei but looked upon them very favorably with respect to the work they did. This is evident in his book “Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way” (ISBN: 0446577812). In this book, in the Chapter “Cooperation with the Laity” he states regarding Opus Dei which he “established as a personal prelature in 1982”, that this movement amongst others calls “forth a great commitment from the laity”. He continues “In October 2002 I had the joy of canonizing Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei, a zealous priest, and an apostle to the laity in modern times.”

Towards the end of the chapter he states “For now, I will just say that I support them, and remember them in my prayers. I have great hopes for them, and above all I wish that through them Christ’s call might be heard and answered: “You go into my vineyard too” (Matt. 20:4).”

Two points come out of this:

1. the Pope supported the efforts of Opus Dei and not the other way around (i.e Opus Dei twisting the arms of the Pope to be conservative) and

2. Opus Dei is an organization of Laity (as evident from the chapter title and the Pope’s comments) and not a monastic order as “The Da Vinci Code” implies.

2. “Unbiased science could not possibly be performed by a man who possessed faith in God. Nor did faith have any need for physical confirmation of its beliefs.”

This statement truly irritated me. It is a statement that should offend every true scientist. As a scientist myself, I pride myself in what I do and with my co-workers we strive to do what we do not just with full dedication but with immense accuracy in technique as well as in recording and reporting. I am a Catholic DURING my working hours AS MUCH as I am a Catholic AFTER working hours – I would be a hypocrite to be otherwise.

Furthermore, as many other scientists would admit, science itself brings us closer to God. It does not contradict faith, it strengthens it. The secular scientists that have their own personal agenda and definition of what science is – are the same scientists that being caught publishing concocted or falsified results including the recent scandal relating to embryonic stem cell research that was published in supposedly one of the highest journals in the field of science – the journal Science. These are the people who do not possess “faith in God” and their work reflects it because the lack of ethics and drive to make the results meet their own ends rather than report the truth are the ones who are NOT producing “unbiased science”

Unbiased science goes with good ethics, good moral standards, love of neighbor and respect for neighbor and God’s creation and the utilization of ones talents and resources for the good of humanity and hence with FAITH in God.

For more proof on the positive relationship between science and religion see the series of book publications “Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action” – topics that include:

1. Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature
2. Chaos and Complexity
3. Evolutionary and Molecular Biology
4. Neuroscience and the Person
5. Quantum Physics and Quantum Field Theory

This is a series of publications published jointly by the Vatican Observatory and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and includes some of the most outstanding scientists know in the respective fields.

Chap 37

1. “Tell me about the Priory of Sion……………The Knights Templar were obliterated?”

This whole chapter is a chapter of distorted historically verified information. For information about the TRUTH of the TRUE Priory of Sion - the canons who cared for the Church of St. Mary in Sion, built in 1099 by the crusaders and later (1617) were integrated into the Jesuit order versus the FALSE Priory of Sion – invented by a power hungry ultra-fascistic maniac read The Da Vinci Hoax by Carl E. Olson and Sandra Miesel (ISBN: 1-58617-034-1). The same applies for the information regarding the Knights Templar. You can also access more information at Da Vinci Outreach and download some resources from the same website.

Chap 55

1. “More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John among them…..The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great”

2. “In 325 A.D., he decided to unify Rome under a single religion. Christianity”

These two statements are absolutely false from beginning to end. The truth as documented historically (and this can be verified with various sources) is as follows: The emperor Constantine came into power after the death of his father Constantius Chlorus, in 306 AD. He was not at this point an emperor of the whole Roman empire since his father was what one would call a co-emperor as he ruled over Gaul and Britain. Constantine had to first defeat Maxentius, who had secured himself within Rome as a stronghold. Constantine finally emerged victorious from this struggle in the year 312 AD. In May 325 AD (May, 20 to be exact) facing a problem in Church unity, Constantine called an ecumenical council which became known as the Council of Nicea. The problem was caused by trouble in Alexandria in Egypt, caused by the presbyter Arius who challenged his bishop, Alexander, on the question of the relation between God the Father and God the Son.

In relation to the collation of what Christians recognize as the Canonical Gospels, these were written between 65-100 AD (c.f. the Gnostic gospels written post-100 AD). There was an attempt ca. 170 AD by a certain Tatian to integrate the four Gospels into one called “Diatessaron” which was used by the Syrian church until the 3rd or 5th century. However, historians agree that by the last quarter of the second century – i.e by the year 200 AD, the idea of four Gospels , and only four gospels had taken precedence and accepted in both the Greek and Western churches. The authenticity of the gospels and ultimately the decision to utilize the four that we currently recognize as canonical, can be confirmed amongst others in the writing of St. Clement (ca. 80 AD), Irenaeus (ca. 140-202 AD), Tertullian (ca 155/160 -240-250 AD) and Origen (ca. 183-253/4 AD). The latter is quoted as saying that these Gospels “are alone undeniably authentic in the church of God on earth”

St. Ireneuas writes “Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, set down in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord who reclined at His bosom, also published a Gospel, while he was residing at Ephesus in Asia.”


Fact 1: Constantine did NOT decide to unify Rome – his actions where driven by heresies outside of Rome but in fact problems in Egypt cause by Arius. The reason behind the Council of Nicea was therefore the clarification/rebuttal against the Arian heresies. It is worth noting that the documents of this council are still in existence.

Fact 2: It is clear from the writings of the Church Fathers prior to 200 AD (i.e over 100 years prior to Constantine even becoming an emperor of Rome and even more from the Council of Nicea) that the authenticity of the four gospels had been decided upon and these texts chosen as the canonical writings long before the Council of Nicea was even convened.

Dan Brown in his book, on the other hand gives credibility to those writings that are temporarily distant from the time of Christ while degrading the authenticity of the Gospels…..

From this stems a simple common sense question: Does it take that much intelligence as to who you should believe – the writings of someone close to the time and place of an event or someone that came up with ideas at least 100 years after the event??

3. “Christ as Messiah was critical to the functioning of Church and state. Many scholars claim that the early Church literally stole Jesus from His original followers, hijacking His human message, shrouding it in an impenetrable cloak of divinity, and using it to expand their own power.”

In the whole book of lies and deceit, this IS the underlying message and the most offensive of blasphemies.

This statement question and refutes the divinity of Christ. Arguing from a simplistic stand point, there are still several problems:

1. Christ himself claims divinity. In one of the most provocative statements Christ says “Before Abraham came to be, I am [Yahweh]” John 8:58 – literally claiming to be God. Therefore the concept of divinity was initiated by Christ himself and continued to be accepted in the early church and was certainly, contrary to what the book says, well established before Constantine became emperor. The writings of the early Church Fathers prior to 200 AD are amongst the evidence for this.

The beginning of John’s Gospel (written prior to 100 AD) is also very clear in this respect. The first few verses state: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1. Later we are also told that the “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son full of grace and truth” John 1:12. This is a clear reference to Jesus.

2. If the early apostles are NOT the “Church”, then who was the Church – this is not made clear – of course because the two where one and the same?

3. According to Brown, in the book itself, he claims rivalry between the apostles, which would indicate that if any dissent took place it would have come from them, however the above statement separates the apostles (“original followers”) from the Church and therefore does contradicts what the book itself tries to say.

4. Brown claims that the church hijacked “His human message” – Brown should take a look through ALL human-inspired writings and would very quickly recognize and conclude that, NO human has ever spoken or written of such absolute Love and Forgiveness unless inspired by the teachings of Christ, and been so ready as to sacrifice himself for the love of all humanity. Christ’s message was anything BUT human – it contradicted secular human thinking then and still does now – it still stands because it IS of divine origin. No human has been, is or will ever be capable of preaching such teachings that truly contradict and go against the instinctive responses/reaction of humans (e.g. the concept of forgiving your enemies, or giving without expecting to be given back).

For more profound detail about the Divinity of Christ and the truth and proof around it, one should refer to the various Apologetic writings available and in particular to the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. A good reference dealing with the questions of Christ’s Divinity is the “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli S.J. (ISBN: 0830817743).

Briefly in relation to the matter of Christ’s Divinity Kreeft and Tacelli deal with two arguments: Christ’s trustworthiness and the Impossibility of the Alternative. They then discuss argue this through further with the following questions:

1. The Dilemma: Lord or Liar?
2. The Trilemma: Lord, Liar or Lunatic?
3. The Quadrilemma: Lord, Liar, Lunatic or Myth?
4. The Quintilemma: Lord, Liar, Lunatic, Myth or Guru?

Following a logical sequence of arguments the authors then conclude with the following summary:

“The following outline summarizes all the logically possible alternatives.

I. Jesus claimed divinity

A. He meant it literally
1. It is true ---------------------------------------------------- Lord
2. It is false
He knew it was false -------------------------------- Liar
He did not know it was false ----------------------- Lunatic

B. He meant it nonliterally, mystically -------------------- Guru
C. Jesus never claimed divinity ---------------------------- Myth

The above argumentation [proof presented in the chapter] has shown the inherent flaws of the last four options. Only one remains: Jesus is Lord [my emphasis]”

Statistical Proof of Divinity?

Not only can one argue from an apologetic point of view but it appears that math also supports a similar conclusion. The article shown below was obtained from Netscape news but was shown on MSN and many other websites. It argues about the probability of the Resurrection having taken place – obviously as further proof of Christ’s Divinity (my emphasis):

“Mathematics Proves Christ's Resurrection?

It is faith, not proof, that makes Christians believe in Jesus Christ's resurrection, the central tenet of the religion. Until now. Oxford University professor Richard Swinburne, a leading philosopher of religion, has seemingly done the impossible. Using logic and mathematics, he has created a formula that he says shows a 97 percent certainty that Jesus Christ was resurrected by God the Father, report The Age and Catholic News.

This stunning conclusion was made based on a series of complex calculations grounded in the following logic:

1. The probably of God's existence is one in two. That is, God either exists or doesn't.
2. The probability that God became incarnate, that is embodied in human form, is also one in two.
3. The evidence for God's existence is an argument for the resurrection.
4. The chance of Christ's resurrection not being reported by the gospels has a probability of one in 10.
5. Considering all these factors together, there is a one in 1,000 chance that the resurrection is not true.

"New Testament scholars say the only evidences are witnesses in the four gospels. That's only five percent of the evidence," Swinburne said in a lecture he gave at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. "We can't judge the question of the resurrection unless we ask first whether there's reason to suppose there is a God. Secondly, if we have reason to suppose he would become incarnate, and thirdly, if he did, whether he would live the sort of life Jesus did." He says that even Jesus' life is not enough proof. However, the resurrection is "God's signature," which shows "his approval of Jesus' teaching." The calculations that Swinburne says prove the resurrection are detailed in his book, "The Resurrection of God Incarnate."

Chap 58

1. “The individual had flowing red hair, delicate folded hands and the hint of bosom. It was, without a doubt…..female”

This chapter commences with some farcical comments about Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. One important factor that needs to be kept in mind in relation to this painting is that it is in such an extensive state of deterioration that the fact that Dan Brown writes what he writes is in itself very exposing of his ignorance (and with him those that believe him). In fact even a photo taken after a recent restoration does not even enable you to see the detail that Dan Brown claims.

Web Gallery of Art, states about this painting: “This painting is not a depiction of a simple or sequential action, but interweaves the individual events narrated in the Gospels”

The statement above is one of many ridiculous statements about this painting. If one looks at the original painting – NOT the copy – it is barely possible to tell John’s hand let alone how delicate his hands were. Furthermore, if the same character is said to have a bosom, the same can be pretty much stated about many of the other characters!!!

The flowing red hair that is mentioned above or in more general terms “feminine” characteristics in men are characteristic of many paintings of young men of those days (including for example a painting of John the Baptist by Da Vinci himself!)

2. “Venturing into the more bizarre……note that Jesus and His bride appear to be joined at the hip”

No statement could summarize the descriptions made in this chapter about this painting or for that matter everything else in the book then the opening sentence of this paragraph “Venturing into the more bizarre”. – One simple comment in this – for them to be joined at the hips – they must have had very wide hips given the distance or else extremely distorted figures!!!

3. “…the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is part of the historical record”

Which historical record? That of the Gnostic gospels written at a very liberal estimate of 100 years after the death of Jesus? Do you give credence to a writer that lived closer to the time of Christ and with Christ in many cases? Or to a write who was barely born when the Gospels were written and approved?!!

Given the importance that Christ gave to the sacrament of marriage for one, if he had been married it would have been recorded and secondly it would have only made this sacrament, so often abused, even holier (if it is possible to say that)!!!!

4. “….The Gospel of Philip…..And the companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth….”

Gospel of Philip is one of the Gnostic Gospels. It is important to note that the word “mouth” is here added by the author or his reference (???) because in the original manuscript there actually is a hole [words in the square brackets are added by the translator from the context of the writings – which in some case differ to what Brown states in his book.]

59. And the Consort of the [Christ] is Mariam the Magdalene. The [Lord loved] Mariam more than [all the (other)] Disciples, [and he] kissed her often on her [mouth]. The other [women] saw his love for Mariam, they say to him: Why do thou love [her] more than all of us?

The other point that the author does not realize and that one can quickly grasp reading through the Gospel of Philip is that for the Gnostics the mouth was associated with the transfer of knowledge –hence Gnostics – coming from the word gnosis – meaning knowledge. The passage below is a good example [words in square brackets are added by translator]:

35. [Grace comes] forth by him from the mouth, the place where the Logos came forth; (one) was to be nourished from the mouth to become perfect. The perfect are conceived thru a kiss and they are born. Therefore we also are motivated to kiss one another— to receive conception from within our mutual grace

5. “…The Gospel of Mary Magdalene……And Peter said, “Did the Savior really speak with a woman without our knowledge? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?”

For a book so focused perpetuating a feminist agenda and on indoctrinating the reader on the “disparaging treatment” of women in the Catholic Church, this has to be the worst quote to use from a Gnostic gospel to try and prove such a point.

It is clear how in this text Mary is looked down upon because she is a woman. In the canonical gospels on the other hand, no such disparaging comment is made. Furthermore, given the culture of the time where a woman’s witness was not given much credibility, the canonical gospels are actually perpetuating something that was, to say the least, counter cultural.

Mary Magdalene is one of the most mentioned characters in the four gospels. In fact she is mentioned more than many of the apostles. Of particular significance is the Lord’s appearance to her after his resurrection.

Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 28 recounts that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb…….Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said…..The go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’” ……..And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them…..Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.””

Luke’s Gospel Chapter 24 recounts a similar event, however, also describes the disbelief of the apostles at the news (“their [the women’s] story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them”). The Gospel however does not stop here, but continues to state that Peter went to confirm with his own eyes. – so to me it indicates that if anything Peter must have thought something o the women’s report or he would not have gone!!! Furthermore Luke also tells us the story of the two apostles on their way to Emmaus where the apostles tell the stranger (that ends up being Jesus whom they do not recognize until the breaking of the bread) that joined them along their journey, that “Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.

John’s Gospel Chapter 20 (like in Matthew’s case) dedicates a good paragraph describing the encounter of Mary Magdalene with the risen Lord ending his paragraph by saying that “Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples. “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her”.

Clearly, despite the obvious skepticism, there appears no shame in these gospels in reporting the witness of the risen Lord by the women, and in particular by Mary Magdalene. Clearly, as I said above, such statements and “bold” depictions/description of the women’s witness in a culture that did not value a woman’s account, is a statement in itself as to the respect that the Church has had and continues to have for women from the earliest of times (not to say that mistakes have not been made!!) – but the church has made every effort from the earliest of times to praise and respect the role of women not only in society but also their great contribution to the church and the faith.

6. “…..Jesus suspects He will soon be captured and crucified. He gives Mary Magdalene instructions on how to carry on His Church after He is gone. As a result, Peter expresses his discontent over playing second fiddle to a woman…..”

Jesus did NOT suspect ANYTHING. He KNEW he was to be handed over, when, how and why – and this is clearly indicated in the gospels.

Luke 26 tells us that Jesus said to his disciples, “You know that in two days’ time it will be Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.

In John 12 we find that Jesus answers his disciples saying “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…..I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.

There are extensive examples and parables that Jesus used to indicate that he was going to die and even how he was going to die. It is beyond any doubt that the gospels clearly indicate that Jesus KNEW what was coming and when.

As to Peter’s discontent – the gospels highlight Jesus’ selection of Peter to head church clearly. Again, it is unclear how one could take as truth, writing written long after the time of the event, when the gospels written just after the death and resurrection of Jesus state otherwise. Here are some examples:

Mt 16:18 – “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Lk 22:31 – “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and one you have turned back [indicating that Peter was to betray him], you must strengthen your brothers.

Jn 21:15-17 – “When they finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep....” – clearly allocating the responsibility of caring/leading the faithful.

The other anomaly about this particular statement is that it appears to go against what Brown himself is trying to perpetuate: The book’s focus is the sacred feminism of which Mary Magdalene seems to be the focus – making her somewhat of a “goddess”. At the same time, in the above quote, Jesus is described as handing the leadership to Mary Magdalene….. The question here is: Why would a divine goddess want to accept leadership of an institution founded by a mortal human (since the book propagates that Christ was not of divine origin)? i.e. who is ordering who around? – Divine to mortal human or mortal human to Divine?

Chap 74

1. “Our ancient heritage and our very physiologies tell us sex is natural – a cherished route to spiritual fulfillment – and yet modern religion decries it as shameful, teaching us to fear our sexual desire as the hand of the devil”

This is a common misconception. It is common simply because it suits those to whom sex is another game i.e. you play tennis, you go for a swim, have a couple of drinks and then you have sex – modern thinking seems put it along the same lines as things to be done when in company.

Such thinking obviously looks with scorn at any institution that demands restraint. What the Church teaches about sex – is not that it is not physiological, nor that it is not natural, but that we as humans, with our capacity to think, understand and truly love and being made in the image of God are called to a higher calling than the average male rabbit in the backyard mating with every available female that comes across his territory.

The higher calling is a calling to love and respect the other person in the relationship, to not use the other person as an object, and to utilize sex as part of the procreative act – where we are acting as tools in God’s hands in his continuous act creation – for more on this topic see the Catechism of the Catholic Church and also Humanae Vitae amongst many documents. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is also meant to be excellent in this respect although I have not read at the time I am writing this blog.

I find statements such as the one above, and others in the book, as well as the concepts of the contraceptive pill, abortion etc quite demeaning to human nature and self respect – in that I feel that what they are implying is that as a human I am no better than the dog down the road that needs to be castrated to help it not go nuts over every bitch that is on heat that comes down the road…. For goodness sake!!!! I hope that I act with a bit more dignity and self control!! The world however does not want us to have self control or dignity.

I mean, how much dignity can you have left when you have slept with 2,3,4….10 – maybe more partners – What difference is there between such a person and a prostitute? What difference is there between such a person and a dog in an enclosure with several female dogs on heat!!!

Brown’s comment therefore is nothing more than the mantra of modern atheistic, materialistic and narcissistic social thinking – with all the implied distortions – Would one have expected better??? Not from Brown!

I also refer the reader and urge him/her to consider what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in “Deus Caritas Est” to Friedrich Nietzsche’s claim (which is also Dan Brown's claim) that Christianity had poisoned eros:

But is this the case? Did Christianity really destroy eros? Let us take a look at the pre-Christian world. The Greeks—not unlike other cultures—considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a “divine madness” which tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness. All other powers in heaven and on earth thus appear secondary: “Omnia vincit amor” says Virgil in the Bucolics—love conquers all—and he adds: “et nos cedamus amori”—let us, too, yield to love.[2] In the religions, this attitude found expression in fertility cults, part of which was the “sacred” prostitution which flourished in many temples. Eros was thus celebrated as divine power, as fellowship with the Divine.

The Old Testament firmly opposed this form of religion, which represents a powerful temptation against monotheistic faith, combating it as a perversion of religiosity. But it in no way rejected eros as such; rather, it declared war on a warped and destructive form of it, because this counterfeit divinization of eros actually strips it of its dignity and dehumanizes it. Indeed, the prostitutes in the temple, who had to bestow this divine intoxication, were not treated as human beings and persons, but simply used as a means of arousing “divine madness”: far from being goddesses, they were human persons being exploited. An intoxicated and undisciplined eros, then, is not an ascent in “ecstasy” towards the Divine, but a fall, a degradation of man. Evidently, eros needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns”

“…….Christian faith…… has always considered man a unity in duality, a reality in which spirit and matter compenetrate, and in which each is brought to a new nobility. True, eros tends to rise “in ecstasy” toward the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification, and healing.

Chap 82

1. “….every faith in the world is based on fabrication… – acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove….Every religion describes God through metaphor, allegory, and exaggeration, from the early Egyptians through modern Sunday school. Metaphors are a way to help our minds process the unprocessible. The problems arise when we begin to believe literally in our own metaphors…….Those who truly understand their faiths understand the stories are metaphorical.”

This “philosophical” expulsion of trash from Brown is nothing new in the book. It shows confusion and a lack of understanding and coherence in what he is actually writing/thinking. Let’s argue this using logic (a word not in Brown’s dictionary).

Brown says “faith is a fabrication”. A fabrication obviously implies the manufacturing, the constructing from nothing of something which did not exist previously. Yet he then goes on to say, that faith is the “acceptance of what we imagine to be true” – These two sentences do not add up – To me it appears logical that either I fabricate something and therefore I know it is NOT true (because I fabricated it), or as faith truly is - a stirring from within (because the seed of faith was planted by God himself) that there is something out there that I may not understand but IS TRUE and that until I find it I will not be fulfilled.

What Brown also seems to forget that from simply a logic point of view as well as experience, if faith were metaphorical, it simply would not last. Take the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Minoan fabrications of gods – none lasted more than some few hundred years. On the contrary, the concept of God – as known in the Judeo-Christian belief (because it is one and the same God) has at least six thousand years or so – two-thousand of which involve Christ who is not a negation of Judaism but the fulfillment of it. In contrast to what Dan Brown tries to indicate, while mankind may have an empty spot that requires filling – and this is the quest for the truth, the quest for the ultimate Truth which is God, the Judeo-Christian God is a God that revealed Himself to us and not the other way around – a God that needed fabrication – imagined into being.

This would be logical if one simply thought about it say from a point of view of a pet and owner situation. The concept of “owner/master” means nothing to the pet until the owner “reveals” themselves to them as their master. The pet may seek and want attention however it cannot get this attention/its master until someone decides to provide it i.e. the active principal here is the person “giving”. The same principal applies with respect to God. He is so much greater than us that we cannot comprehend Him, not unless he chooses to reveal himself to us. Then, if we are open to “wanting Him/accepting Him”, we fill the void that otherwise would persist. If he fails to show Himself, we remain unknowingly empty……simply put – The infinite cannot fill the finite (the ocean cannot fill the cup - the cup will overflow), however the finite can become embraced into the infinite (the cup can be full within the ocean – since it is within it, it is full within its immensity).

One could continue on and on with similar arguments. Dan Brown’ arguments are illogical and defy logic – for example – the last statement in that “Those who truly understand their faiths understand the stories are metaphorical” is one of those illogically self-consuming/destructive statements (I don’t know how else to describe it – because it literally shoots itself down)– since given the logic described before, to understand something means to know the truth behind it, since it is impossible to understand what is false precisely because it IS false and has no basis, and therefore one would have to be delusional to believe in that which he/she has already concluded to be false. All it takes to understand Dan Brown’s capacity to be illogical is a capacity to think and analyze critically – something which evidently is becoming less and less common in our politically correct society!!!


I have written enough although I have not written everything!!! I have, in these pages, endeavored to analyze “The Da Vinci Code” as best as I could and in as analytical a way as possible with the limited knowledge of an informed lay person who researches his topic prior to discussing anything. You will obviously find more in depth analysis of some of the claims of Dan Brown in books written by historians, art/biblical/document who are much more knowledgeable than I am in their respective fields. These I encourage every person who has question to read.

From a lay person’s point of view ultimately it is a question of common sense – Do you believe what is historically unquestionable, proven and well documented? Or do you believe that which has been historically proven to be fabricated. To use Dan Brown’s words - are you ready to believe what you truly understand is metaphorical because it lacks no basis?

The book is written with several agendas which clearly stand out:

1. To diminish the divinity of Christ
2. To diminish the sacred origin and spiritual authority of the Catholic Church
3. To portray all Catholics or people of faith as villains (in the book – not one person who is a “person of faith” is a good person)
4. To put forward a pure feministic agenda

It is a book that defies pure logic and fact and any one, and especially if they consider themselves academic and are highly educationally qualified, takes Dan Brown’s claims as authoritative and legitimate, they have ultimately and unwittingly proven their absolute ignorance.

The reader would do well to keep in mind the following quotes, some of which I have already mentioned:

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe”…….Albert Einstein

Believe nothing against another but on good authority; and never report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to some other to conceal it”……William Penn

God has placed obvious limitations on human intelligence but none whatsoever on his stupidity”.

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance -- it is the illusion of knowledge.”…..Daniel J. Boorstin

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to stay, abstains from giving us worthy evidence of the fact.”….George Eliot

If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”….. Mt 15:14

Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong”….Thomas Jefferson

And the last one specifically to Dan Brown:

It is better to conceal one’s knowledge than to reveal one’s ignorance” …. Spanish Proverb

God bless (+) and may the Holy Spirit be the only guide for you towards the TRUE knowledge.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

From Homo Sapiens to Homo Insciens [a] - The Evolution of the Soulless man.

I started writing this at the end of the week that the Church dedicated to Christian Unity (January 25th 2006). I write a day after Pope Benedict issued his first encyclical “Deus Caritas est” – “God is love”. What a simple and yet profound statement that is!!! What an appropriate time to issue such an encyclical relating to the topic of love – a time when the true definition of love has become so distorted – that in practice, especially in the media, and very much so engrained in our society, it has come to mean nothing more then “to use and abuse”.

As I continue to write this (February 19th, 2006 - Yes, it took me a month to come back to writing – much has happened in between!!!) I look at the world and see hatred spreading. I write now a couple of weeks after the publishing of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspapers as well as in several other newspapers of various nations and as the protests, killings, pillaging and destruction including that of Christian churches continues.

It appears to me that as humans we strive to appear balanced, and yet we are not capable of achieving anything but one extreme or another. Like the extremes in politics – where fascism and communism are at both extremes of the political spectrum and neither represents democracy, so one can look at lust and hatred as the two extremes of the spectrum of true love. If one stops to think and observe it is impossible, I feel for one not to ask – ‘is this all we are capable of doing?; Have we no sense?’ However it appears that few, if any, stop and ask this question, or our world would be a much better place. Furthermore fewer still appear to have any sense left. For, who in their right mind would want the world as it is now for themselves and even for their children?

In the Preface of the book “Neuronal Man: The Biology of the Mind” by Jean-Pierre Changeux[1] the writer says “Seen from another planet, human behavior would seem rather surprising. We are one of the rare species that kills our kind deliberately. Even worse, sometimes we condemn an individual murder while rewarding those responsible for collective homicide and the inventors of terrible war machines. This absurd madness has pursued man throughout history, from the invention of the Stone Age ax to the perfecting of thermonuclear bombs.

The writer then continues to say that “It (human behavior) has resisted all religions and all philosophies, even the most magnanimous. As emphasized by Arthur Koestler, it is hard-wired into the organization of the human brain”.

I will weave this particular blog around the statement above since there is so much depth and so much to comment about from the few words quoted above. I will be working backward through the statement as I analyze the truths or lack of and rationality or irrationality behind what it states and what it concludes. From there then I will work back to Pope Benedict’s encyclical and its relevance to our daily life and our world today.

Humans must be the most absurd of all creations. We must be the greatest paradox of God’s creation. Genesis tells us that following His creation of the world “God saw how good it was”[2]. The Holy Scripture than proceeds to tell us that “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them”[3]. Two important concepts can be extracted from this sentence – the first being that God created humans in his own image and secondly that he created man and woman equal. Furthermore the scripture continues to tell us that only after God had created man and woman in His own image did He look “at everything he had made, and he found it very good (my emphasis)”[4]. Two important points to be extracted summarizing the scripture quoted above are: 1. the significance/value and sacredness of human life and 2. that humans are NOT intrinsically evil since simple deduction would easily reach the conclusion that if we were so we could not ever be “very good” nor be the “image of God”.

I cannot but agree that human behavior is absurd and that human behavior is also complex. However human behavior is “complicated” by the fact of the existence of the soul which is what makes us the image of God. Nancy Murphy in her introduction to the book “Neuroscience and the Person: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action”[5] summarized St. Augustine’s concept of the person as being: “a human being is an immortal (not eternal) soul using (not imprisoned in) a mortal body”. Condemning humans to a hard-wired, robotic, reflex dependent and pre-programmed system of life, automatically and intrinsically contradicts reason as well as what the Holy Scriptures tell us about “why” humans exist. It predestines humans to a miserable outcome, irrespective of options. It predestines humans to doom from the womb. The complexity of this argument is further evident in the never ending discussion on the role of genes vs the environment (nature vs nurture). As a neuroscientist I deal on a daily basis with the complexity of the brain, as do thousands of other scientists. No scientist in their right mind and who sincerely wanted to speak the truth about the discoveries of science would ever come to any other conclusion other than that we deal with much that is unexplainable and the little that we know about the human brain contrasts the immensity of what we do not understand. No true scientist would ever refuse to admit or believe that there are concepts that are beyond human understanding. I, for one am sure that, irrespective of the progress in technology and knowledge in the years to come there will remain limitations that are not solely of the temporal order associated with our developing mind, but also limitations that pertain to our finite capacity to understand the infinite.

Therefore there remains the unknown, the spiritual, which we cannot truly ever understand fully. However this spiritual side of mankind is what makes any theory proposing “hard-wiring” even less supportable as the explanation of human behavior. Some sort of “hard-wiring” is obviously necessary as nature follows its course through the centuries. However unlike the rest of creation humans have a choice. We can choose right from wrong. We can refrain from doing wrong and work actively to do the right thing or we can choose to do the opposite. The choice is ours. We are NOT driven simply by instinct.

With the above thoughts in mind, the following four sections endeavor to investigate the following concepts:

1. The relationship between the soul and human reason

2. The relationship between human reason and the capacity for humans to love
3. The current disintegration of human behavior
4. The importance of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical in light of the current situation in our world.

The Soul and Knowledge

[N.B. I return to writing on April 16th, 2006 – Easter Sunday. As I write I see that this topic is truly complicated – not that I did not know it when I set out to do it – I just feel sorry for the reader!!! I came to the conclusion that at least if no one else understood what I wrote, which I hope is not the case because that was not the scope of the blog, at least it would serve or have served as an aid for myself towards understanding more where I stand and what I understand of my faith.]

The spiritual aspect of mankind is in fact what truly defines us from the rest of creation. I proceed in this topic with caution due to its profoundness and complexity and of course due to the limited knowledge I myself have about this topic.

To discuss this matter I wish to mostly draw on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas (Treatise on Man) and follow the logic presented in this document. I wish to expand on the topic beyond the two key words in the heading of this section (i.e. soul and knowledge) for the simple reason that I believe that the more we look at something in its entirety (or as close as we can to it) the closer we are to coming to some sort of understanding of it.

Firstly we must comprehend/accept that the life, soul, movement and knowledge are so very intimately linked that they make the essence of who we are and why we are here. I hope that the following will somehow bring that out.

Life: St. Thomas commences his arguments by defining the soul as the “first principle of life” using simple logic and reasoning that we utilize in our daily lives for the classification of objects i.e. animate (anima [Lat] = soul) or inanimate objects being those objects which have life or do not have life respectively. He also tells us that life “is shown principally by two actions, knowledge and movement” – which I will explain in more detail below.

Soul: St. Thomas tells us that the soul is “is not a body, but the act of a body”. My humble interpretation of this (and I stand to be corrected) is that the soul comes into existence to give life to the body however it is not in existence before it. I found that the simplest way of understanding the chronology of this or grasping this concept is to refer to the scriptures. In Genesis, relative to the creation of man it says “…the LORD God formed (my emphasis) the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (my emphasis), and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7). Thus the creation of the body (“formed”) precedes the principle of life (“breath of life”) which is the soul.

Movement: St. Thomas concisely summarizes movement as the transition from “potentiality” to “actuality”. For movement to take place, “movers” are necessary. A mover, as can be perceived from the word itself, is that which causes a movement. A mover, through giving “what it has to the thing moved” induces the transition from potentiality to actuality – i.e. it causes that which has a potential to move to actually move (“to be in act”). There are however, different types of movers.

First and foremost there is the “Unmoved mover” – This is by definition God. He simply IS – Yahweh – “I am who am” – He is NOT a creaTURE but IS the creaTOR. He therefore is the cause of “movement” however he himself simply IS.

Without going into excessive detail, we need to understand that an object can be moved either “accidentally” or “essentially”. The former implies movements that are in succession where the presence of the mover is not essential for the “moved” to continue moving (e.g. the egg requires a chicken to come into existence however the egg does not require the continued presence of the chicken to hatch). The latter implies a movement where the “moved” requires the continued presence of the mover to continue moving. God being the “unmoved mover” is neither moved essentially nor accidentally. The soul is an example of a mover that is moved accidentally (continues to exist even after the death of the body). The body is an example of a mover that is moved essentially (i.e. requires soul to be present to be alive).

I went into the detail that I did about movers as I feel that it is essential to have some understanding of the “causal relationship” that exists between the body and the soul.

Knowledge: I left this for last even though it was the aspect that related most to what I was discussing in terms of the distinction between humans and the other creatures.

St. Thomas describes the soul as being “incorporeal” i.e. not composed of matter. At this point we need to tie in the three points I have mention above before we proceed. Here is the logic we need to remember: Life is given through the presence of the Soul. If life is defined by “knowledge and movement”, then to me it appears to follow that the soul can equally be defined by “knowledge and movement” [compare to the math equation: If L (life) =S (soul) and L = k (knowledge) + m (movement); then it also follows that S = k + m]

The reason St. Thomas gives for the soul being incorporeal (again – meaning not composed of matter) is that through our intellect, we “can have knowledge of all corporeal [composed of matter] things”. This follows from the logic that given the body has a “determinate nature” i.e. is limited in time, space or character, it is by it own nature, limited in what it can know. I guess the best example I can give would be that of the fact that it is impossible for us to comprehend infinity. Another example is that of animals – since they do not a soul in the same way as humans do, they do not have any knowledge/understanding beyond their instinct (which is nothing more than pre-programmed behavior for a given situation – it does NOT imply understanding). Irrespective of what some scientists would like to say this is the TRUTH. No animal in recorded or prerecorded history has ever expressed emotions or feelings or expressed knowledge through paintings, music, writing etc. as humans have done from the earliest records. Also, for the record, there have been many co-existent humans and animals for thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of years and maybe even more and neither has evolved into each other (although it goes without saying that some human behavior is worse than what some animals do). For more arguments in this respect read G.K. Chesterton’s “The Everlasting Man”.

Thus, as St. Thomas concludes: “the intellectual principle which we call the mind or the intellect has an operation "per se" apart from the body.”

I could go on quite a bit more, however I have gone into this topic more than I ever anticipated. To summarize the whole argument and concept into a simple single sentence I have to use a quote from the Summa itself and that is “that man understands through the soul.”

Knowledge and Love

[N.B. I return to writing on June 25th, 2006. Unfortunately given the hoohaa about “The Da Vinci Code” I had to postpone continuing this blog until I finalized the one about the same book/movie]

One may ask how these two could even be related. However one has to keep in mind that the ultimate TRUTH lies in God as Pope John Paul II put it in “Veritatis Spendor”: “The spendor of the truth shines forth in the works of the Creator……Truth enlightens man’s intelligence and shapes his freedom….” God is omniscient. God is also the ultimate definition of LOVE. Pope Benedict XVI in “Deus Caritas Est” tells us: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him”. The relationship between truth and knowledge may be obvious, however the two are also intricately linked to love since they make the “substance” of God – who God truly is (in mathematical terms – if A, B and C are a subset of X then it is possible to conclude that while they the three entities are different they influence each other and essentially make up the definition of X).

We have in the previous sections linked the soul to knowledge. To explain the link between Knowledge and Love I wish to use the writings in Saint Faustina’s diary which in her simplicity truly explains this link:

God makes known to me, even now, the immensity of the love He already had for me before time began; and as for me, I have just begun to love Him, in time. His love was [ever] great, pure and disinterested, and my love for Him comes from the fact that I am beginning to know Him. The more I come to know Him, the more ardently, the more fiercely I love Him, and the more perfect my acts become…….From the very first time that I came to know the Lord, the gaze of my soul became drowned in Him for all eternity. Each time the Lord draws close to me and my knowledge of Him grows deeper, a more perfect love grows within my soul” (231)

I feel that in this paragraph Sr. Faustina truly links God to knowledge and knowledge to love. Of course this would mean little to anyone who does not comprehend that the ultimate TRUTH, LOVE and KNOWLEDGE lie in God.

How all of this becomes intertwined into human behavior and its deterioration is the aim of the discussion of the next section.

The Evolution of the Soulless Man

In the discussion so far we have observed that: understanding comes through the soul (St. Augustine) – meaning that knowledge ultimately comes through the soul. Knowledge and love are intricately linked IN God and both find their fulfillment IN God.

Simple deduction would lead us to the following conclusion:

Conclusion 1: Denial of the role of the soul in our daily life – acting as if there was no soul, no spiritual aspect in our lives, leads to a deprivation of knowledge and worse still of TRUE knowledge that comes from God. In doing so, our actions become nothing more than mere instinct i.e. thoughtless and irrational acts.

Conclusion 2: In denying the spirit in us, in denying the higher responsibility that we have as humans created in the image of God, in denying the knowledge that reaches out to us from God through the soul, we ultimately deny the love of God. Once you reach this point, very little intelligence is required to conclude that in denying the love of God, we are unable to love our neighbor. This leads to the deterioration and ultimate degeneration of the moral fabric of society ultimately leading to the disorder that we observe around us - the hatred, the disarray, laws outlawing God, laws legalizing abortion, the pill, promiscuity, permissiveness in general - the mentality that nurtures the “culture of death”.

Referring to the opening quote around which I am weaving this commentary, at this point it becomes clear that this “absurd madness” that Jean-Pierre Changeux claims to have “pursued us throughout history” has in reality NOT pursued us at all. It has been a madness that WE have actively fostered and nurtured and potentially sought/pursued through our self-glorifying and hence self-destructive behavior. It also becomes clear that this “absurd madness” is in NO way “hard-wired” in us, since hard-wiring implies a behavior over which we
have no control, a behavior that is innate.

Hence – to summarize all that has been said so far – we come to the infamous “Soulless man” – the human who was NOT created soulless, but EVOLVED INTO BEING soulless through his own choice, obstinacy, proud, egocentric, and narcissistic behavior and his efforts to obliterate God from the daily fabric of human life.

Deus Caritas Est – The Light at the End of the Tunnel

This part of the blog is long overdue for closure. So, rather than get into a fresh discussion I wish to focus more on summarizing some points that are highlighted in the encylical "Deus Caritas Est" - God is Love.

To give an overall summary of what this encyclical stands for - there could be no better antithesis to the overall attitude of modern society, than the words written in this encyclical which obviously reflect the words of Christ. What the encyclical teaches us stands out as a contrast to modern social behavior as black stands out from white. This will be clear as you read through the summary points I have below [bold or [comments in square brackets] are my emphasis/addition]:

Eros vs Agape ?

"An intoxicated and undisciplined eros, then is not an ascent in "ecstacy" towar the Divine, but a fall, a degredation of man"

"...there is a certain relationship between love and the Divine: love promises infinity, attain this goal is not simply by submitting to instinct. Purification and growth in maturity are called for.....Far from rejecting or "poisoning" eros [which is what Friedrich Neitzsche claimed Christianity did], they heal it and restore its true grandeur."

" is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified crature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united does man attain his full stature."

"Eros, reduced to pure "sex," has become a commodity, a mere "thing" to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity"

"Christian faith....has always considered man a unity in duality, a reality in which spirit matter compenetrate, and in which each is brought to a new nobility."

"...eros and agape...can never be completely separated. The more the two,, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized.....eros which seeks God and agape whcih passes on the gift received...."love" is a single reality, but with different dimensions"

Following the detailed discussion on love the first part of the encyclical continues by describing how God expressed and expresses His love towards humanity (through Jesus Christ - the incarnate love of God) and Jesus through his giving of himself with the ultimate sacrifice of himself on the cross and of course in his presence the holy Eucharist. The document continues to relate love of neighbor to love of God and how the two interrelate.

In the second part of the encylical the role of the Church is this expression of true love is described.

"Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and his needs, including material needs....."The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the Word of God (kerygma-martryria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia)."

The expression of charity also involves an aspect of social justice that many other encylicals and church documents such as Rerum Novarum, Populorum Progressio, Laborem Exercens deal with in detail.

To conclude the Church directs us to the example of the saints. In particular and above all towars our Blessed Mother Mary "Mother of the Lord and mirror of all holiness.....[whose] greatness consists in the fact that she wants to magnify God, not herself. She is lowly: her only desire is to be the handmaid of the Lord...She speaks and thinks with the Word of God...Mary is a woman who loves...We sense this in her quiet gestures....delicacy...[and] humility...."

Thus "Mary, Virgin and Mother, shows us what love is and whence it draws its origin and its constantly renewed power. To her we entrust the Church and her mission in the service of love.."

Thus this encylical stands out as a guide towards unmaking the degradation into what I referred to earlier as the "soulless man". It gives the direction to build us as humans into truly mature and loving human beings. The choice is ours now....The church has done her bit!

May God bless you (+) and keep you


[a] Homo Sapiens – Latin for “wise man”; Homo Insciens – Latin for “ignorant man”
[1] Neuronal Man: The Biology of Mind. Jean-Pierre Changeux. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
[2] Gen 1:25
[3] Gen 1:27
[4] Gen 1:31 [At this point I do not wish to get into the evolution vs intelligent design argument as I will do so at a later time. However I do want to say that the role of the Holy Scriptures is to tell us the “why” while the role of science is to tell us the “how”. Thus the whole point of the creation narrative in Genesis and the context in which I am using it here is solely to acknowledge the relationship between God and humans from the very beginning – and that humans ARE a creation of God (i.e. the “why”)]
[5] Neuroscience and the Person: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action. Eds RJ Russell, N Murphy, TC Meyering, MA Arbib. Vatican Observatory – Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Notre Dame, IN.