Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
First Objection: It's Fiction, Dummy
10/20/2005 - James WhiteVery shortly after posting the previous article the following e-mail was sent through our website:
Someone at Alpha and Omega ministries might like to encourage James White to point out at the beginning of his blog that The Da Vinci Code is marketed as a fictional story. Fiction defined as: a making up of imaginary happenings. He should point out that there is no need for any defense except to point out the fact that the author himself has marketed the work as not true. There is no need to argue with an author who never claimed to be telling the truth in the first place. It is a movie made for entertainment value and nothing more. Such a story is meant to be enjoyed, not critiqued. The arguments made in this book should not be addressed unless they are common arguments found in more serious venues. Because of this there is no need to badmouth the book itself, but it may be helpful to address its fictional claims if it serves to educate others.
Are we making a mountain out of a mole-hill? Should we just laugh at the The Da Vinci Code, enjoy the story, and ignore the statements it makes about the Scriptures, Christ, the apostles, the Church, etc.? Does this author have a point?
The answer is sadly very clear. No, this writer has not taken the time to consider this issue very deeply, nor has he listened to Dan Brown talk about his own book. I would suggest this reader check this page and listen to the mp3 linked on it as well. You will see that the story of this book reflects Brown's own "research" on the subjects. You don't do "research" for years on material that is merely "fiction." Instead, the book is presented as fiction based on facts. The book itself begins by stating that what it says about art, architecture, and documents, is authentic. Authentic is not a synonym for "fiction." And that brings us to the key issue: no one is arguing Langdon or Teabing actually exist. They are the fictional characters. But the assertions they make, in the guise of setting the foundation for the central conspiracy theory of the book, are presented not as fiction, or mere speculations. They are presented as unquestioned historical facts.
In his talk linked above Brown makes the following statement which, I believe, fully confirms the need for the responses that we have provided, and will provide in the future. He said,
"I am not the first person to tell the story of Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail. This idea is centuries old. I am one in a long line of people who has offered up this alternative history. The Da Vinci Code describes history as I have come to understand it through many years of travel, research, reading, interviews, exploration."These are not the words of someone who is merely offering fiction without factual basis. He presents his assertions regarding the complete and utter textual emendation of the Scriptures as historical facts: and he clearly believes this to be true, and the movie presents these accusations as historical facts. There is no doubt about any of this.
The following citations from the above linked page (which reflects, often verbatim, the linked talk Brown gave) provide more than sufficient basis for responding to Brown's attacks upon the Christian faith by demonstrating the fact that his historical claims are simply false:
While the book's characters and their actions are obviously not real, the artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals depicted in this novel all exist (for example, Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings, the Gnostic Gospels, Hieros Gamos, etc.). These real elements are interpreted and debated by fictional characters. While it is my belief that some of the theories discussed by these characters may have merit, each individual reader must explore these characters' viewpoints and come to his or her own interpretations.I simply note in passing: how do you "debate" fiction? Does this not prove that the historical material he presents he does, in fact, believe to be historical?
BUT DOESN'T THE NOVEL'S "FACT" PAGE CLAIM THAT EVERY SINGLE WORD IN THIS NOVEL IS HISTORICAL FACT?
If you read the "FACT" page, you will see it clearly states that the documents, rituals, organization, artwork, and architecture in the novel all exist. The "FACT" page makes no statement whatsoever about any of the ancient theories discussed by fictional characters.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CLERICAL SCHOLARS ATTEMPTING TO "DISPROVE" THE DA VINCI CODE?
The dialogue is wonderful. These authors and I obviously disagree, but the debate that is being generated is a positive powerful force. The more vigorously we debate these topics, the better our understanding of our own spirituality. Controversy and dialogue are healthy for religion as a whole. Religion has only one true enemy--apathy--and passionate debate is a superb antidote.
SOME OF THE HISTORY IN THIS NOVEL CONTRADICTS WHAT I LEARNED IN SCHOOL. WHAT SHOULD I BELIEVE?Clearly the "it's just fiction, don't worry about it" defense fails the test of the author's own words and intentions, let alone the fact that a large portion of those reading the book, or, in May of next year, viewing the film, will consider it "fiction based upon fact." And hence we move forward in our refutation of the many falsehoods presented as historical facts in The Da Vinci Code.
Since the beginning of recorded time, history has been written by the "winners" (those societies and belief systems that conquered and survived). Despite an obvious bias in this accounting method, we still measure the "historical accuracy" of a given concept by examining how well it concurs with our existing historical record. Many historians now believe (as do I) that in gauging the historical accuracy of a given concept, we should first ask ourselves a far deeper question: How historically accurate is history itself?