On Origin: A Book Review

I’m not an avid reader of fiction, but after watching two interviews on his book promotion tour, I was interested. Knowing my interest in the interchange between science and religion, my wife (who also saw the interviews) returned from Costco with a copy of Origin by Dan Brown.

For the record, I’ve have not read any of Dan Brown’s other books, so I am not going down the rabbit hole of comparing Origin to any of the others.

Origin is a tale involving science and religion revolving around two fundamental questions that humans have thought about for many years: Where do we came from? Where are we going?

Professor Robert Langdon, a character in other Brown novels returns, As an invited guest, he is attending an event where a former student, well-known futurist and anti-religion atheist, Edmund Kirsch is to announce a major finding that (according to him) will disrupt the foundation of world religions.

Most of the story takes place in three different Spanish cities: Bilbao, Madrid, and Barcelona – with a small portion in Budapest, Hungary. Having been to Barcelona, I greatly enjoyed Brown’s use of La Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera (Casa Mila). These both unique structures from famed architect Antoni Gaudi are local treasures. We also visited the Abbey at Montserrat outside of Barcelona.

The fast-paced story held my attention. Given the different locations and the story’s short time frame, Brown dedicates each chapter (which are short) to a specific setting with different characters. This format indicates of simultaneous events.

Brown combines adventure, history, present-day thoughts, religion, a royal family, Artificial Intelligence, and real-life settings to engage readers in the storyline. Being curious, I researched some of the organizations and places in Origin – and yes – they are legit.

There is enough science within Origin to engage readers – but not enough to require a science background. The religion side is small, while the science-religion interrelationship is (at best) shallow. As with any topic, generalizations provide the broad thought, but that can also lead to misconceptions. One incident caused me to cringe, but (at the time of this writing) I can’t find it.

Whereas Origin creates an atmosphere for discussions on the creation topic for readers, some consider Origin to be another God vs Science situation where one must make a choice. The actual wider range of thoughts is not part of this novel – which also reinforces the choice notion. I also note that the religious conservatives in this story do not seem to promote the same type of creationism as the Young Earth Creationists and organizations as Answers in Genesis and their Creation Museum.

Whereas some may take Brown is publicizing an anti-religion view – and possibly his – I did not take his text that way. Professor Langdon’s final conversation with a priest shines light on those who see how religion and science do coexist.

Origin centers around Edmund Kirsch’s big announcement. I’m not going to give it away, but I will state that it’s not what I expected – and it is worth pondering.

In closing, I enjoyed Origin and recommend it. I found it to be easy and engaging reading. Although it is based on many truths, the story is still fiction – but the two key questions are worth thinking about: Where do we came from? Where are we going?

Enjoy a few pictures of La Segrada Familia, La Pedrera, and Montserrat.

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On My Wow Moment

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La Sagrada Familia, the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family, is one of the many great landmarks in Barcelona. For me, it was a must see, so before leaving home, we purchased our timed advance tickets during the first full day after our arrival. I left the facility stunned and moved.

I’ve been to St. Peter’s (Vatican), St. Mark’s (Venice), Duomo (Florence), St. Patrick’s (NYC), Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, stunning churches in St. Petersburg, Russia, and many other wonderful churches – but to me, La Sagrada Familia is the most moving religious place I’ve ever visited.

Famed local architect Antonio Gaudi (Gow DEE) designed the project, and the first stone was laid on in 1882. Gaudi worked on La Sagrada until his death (1926), and he is fittingly buried in a crypt below it. Historical and political events impacted construction, which is ongoing with hopes of completing the project in 2026.

La Sagrada Familia hovers over the city and its surroundings, thus easily seen from most vantage points.The outside is both striking, gaudy, and odd – it even reminds me of the towers one makes at the beach by dripping wet cone as an inverted cone. Close examination displays a detailed story and incredible intricacy with the sun providing an interplay of light and shadows playing an integral role with different direct light and shadows throughout the day.

Inside is a different story, and that provided the moving experience. Gaudi had a deep faith, was a keen observer of nature, and a strong believer in using natural light. Instead of going on and on about the interior, I leave readers with these three quotes by Gaudi to help understand him – then enjoy the pictures.

There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.

Color in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic.

The amount of light should be just right, not too much, not too little, since having too much or too little light can both cause blindness.

NOTE: Here’s a past post that has two wonderful videos about La Sagrada Familia.