Anyone who thinks the thesis of Dan Brown’s Origin is to disprove the existence of god clearly hasn’t read it. [Spoilers]
The thriller plot suspense clearly hangs on the assumption of a church plot to suppress a triumph of science over god, but that’s the point of it being a thriller, it’s absolutely not. The only conspiracy is by the Edmund Kirsch information scientist character and his AI Winston to frame “Dark Religion” – the cultish Palmarian Church – for the assassination of the scientist, who was already dying and planning his own suicide. The assassination is a suicide set-up – well telegraphed to the reader before the event – which hangs on releasing the alternative “there is no god” conclusion to the wider church days before publishing the actual enlightened ending. The apparent assassination of a scientist and the apparent suppression of scientific publication are plot devices. The real conclusion is pure Blake.
“The Dark Religions are departed & sweet science remains.”
“Science can banish the Dark Religions ….
so that enlightened [science & religion] can flourish.”
Jeremy England is one of the many current scientists and philosophers of evolution cited by Brown, specifically for his work on the informational (ie physical) inevitability of the evolution of life. But as I said in my own review these findings are not limited to Discovery Institute or Templeton Foundation funded researchers. Apologetics is not a plot to undermine science, but even if it were, the science stands or falls as science. My own philosophical research, starting decades ago with Hofstadter, and the Entropic Anthropic physics of Rick Ryals also support natural teleology. “Teleology Without a God” I wrote as a preview to Brown’s Origin.
Back in October this became a meme:
“Dan Brown can’t cite me to disprove God”, writes Jeremy England.
Well that’s what WSJ’s click-bait headliner wrote. England actually wrote “The novelist relies on my research, but my literary doppelgänger makes bad arguments.” He sure does, it’s a fiction. “There is no real science in the book to argue over”. As he goes on to explain the idea that physics could disprove god is a serious linguistic misunderstanding. It’s a total red herring, a typical god vs science meme. In fact that is mostly what Origin is about. How information works. Something authors – and philosophers – seem to understand better than scientists in my experience.
As I noted in my own review, Brown goes as far as suggesting Transhuman AI will involve a humanist integration of science and god – a religion by any other name. With or without AI he’s not the only one predicting such a future, but you know neither sci-fi nor predictions are the future. What’s good about Origin is that as a block-buster it will expose some very important areas of information science (in physics and biology and humanity) to a wider public. All we can hope is that people actually report and show curiosity about reading what is actually written, and don’t just jump on memetic “fake-news” bandwagons.
Good news – caught the attention of Quanta and Jim AlKhalili
— Quanta Magazine (@QuantaMagazine) November 21, 2017
Thus I need to read and think about. Important and profound if correct. https://t.co/DI57khSxRe
— Jim Al-Khalili (@jimalkhalili) November 22, 2017
Some inevitable Dan Brown references in the comment thread too 😉
Also published on Medium.