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(Book) Origin by Dan Brown

Where do we come from?

Where are we going?

They are two of the most basic questions mankind has asked for millennia. Man has created stories and gods to define these mysteries.

Author Dan Brown explores these questions in a battle between science and religion. Book here. He blends facts with a mind-bending mission in Spain to share truths with the world that answer the two questions above.

“Well, science and religion are not competitors, they’re two different languages trying to tell the same story. There’s room in this world for both.”

In my inner nerd’s search for an intellectually stimulating fiction novel, Origin delivered.

November 2022 seems like an appropriate time to read it because of just how quickly science seems to be advancing. New AI applications pop up seemingly every week. It can be an exhausting battle for someone who attends church yet loves the sciences. What might this look like in 50 years?

Our methods of inquiry have been evolving exponentially for millennia! It took early humans over a million years to progress from discovering fire to inventing the wheel. Then it took only a few thousand years to invent the printing press. Then it took only a couple hundred years to build a telescope. In the centuries that followed, in ever-shortening spans, we bounded from the steam engine, to gas-powered auto-mobiles, to the Space Shuttle! And then, it took only two decades for us to start modifying our own DNA! We now measure scientific progress in months, advancing at a mind-boggling pace. (134)

Origin is extrapolated from facts, meaning the theories presented from art and science are real; you can go explore the buildings of Spain that are part of the story — Gaudí’s Casa Mila, the Sagrada Familia, El Escorial, and the Guggenheim; and Brown uses valid thought experiments (the Infinite Hallway) and literary secrets (the ampersand &) to support the story’s premise.

The logical conclusions and facts really make me think about the world and what I believe in.

This is the brilliance of the book. It is not the style of prose and the mysterious characters. Dan Brown is presenting one solution to questions that have proven impossible to answer: Where do we come from? And where are we going? (I wrote them again. Get used to it. You’ll read them 100 times in the book.)

It’s a particularly important time to consider them.

We are now perched on a strange cusp of history, a time when the world feels like it’s been turned upside down, and nothing is quite as we imagined. But uncertainty is always a precursor to sweeping change; transformation is always preceded by upheaval and fear. I urge you to place your faith in the human capacity for creativity and love because these two forces, when combined, possess the power to illuminate any darkness. (570)

I won’t spoil the grand reveal, but the answers to the questions help me to learn the historical context and force me to pause to consider my own life and decisions. Let’s read more books that have that effect.

Origin is highly entertaining, edge-of-your-seat good, and intellectually rigorous. A highly-potent combo for any curious mind.

Prayer for the Future: may our philosophies keep pace with our technologies. May our compassion keep pace with our powers. And may love, not fear, be the engine of change.


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