August 23, 2005

Book Review: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

While looking for a Christian based book review of Dan Brown’s book Angels & Demons, I had a hard time finding one. So, I decided to write one myself. Dan Brown is the best selling author of Digital Fortress, Deception Point, and most notably, The Da Vinci Code. I had heard negative things about his work from other Christians in passing, so I was shocked one night when my husband returned home with a copy of Angels & Demons. He told me that a professor at his college, who was also a Baptist preacher referred him to the book. He said that the man read them to "keep up with culture and know what he was up against". So, Kevin and I read the book together over a weekend.

I'll have to admit that the fiction is wonderful. You can tell that a lot of research went in to this book and he does write well. Yet, his theology begins to emerge in the climatic points towards the end, and hints of twisted truths appear in various places throughout the book. It ruined the book for us when one of the main characters in the final moments of the book goes into a dialogue of how Christianity has been replaced with Science, and the Catholic Church is flailing to compete. I may not be a Catholic, but I know a lot about Science and I have noticed lately that the R-“evolutionists” are competing to keep up with the solid evidence against Darwinism’s failing religion. Why else would every liberal American news paper be screaming at the top of it’s lungs about how the Christians are trying to destroy Science by allowing Creation to be taught along side of evolution in schools? They are running scared. And rightly so.

Angels & Demons is a story about a man named Robert Langdon. He is a man who loves "art, symbology, codes, secret societies" and isn't sure of his faith if you could say he has any at all. The Illuminati, a secret Masonic society from long ago who’s members were prominent and rich, appear to have resurfaced to destroy the Catholic Church (their main goal), and are wanting media credit for evil acts of murder and mayhem to scare the world. The Pope has died and his servant is in charge until a new pope is sworn in. There have been four cardinals (who were hand-picked to be successors to the church’s throne) that have been kidnapped by the Illuminati. It is Langdon's job to decipher the codes left by the Illuminati and find the cardinals before they are killed. Many of the cardinals die horrific deaths (the descriptions are graphic, and the book should not be read by children under 17), all seconds before Robert and his Scientific helper, Vittoria are able to intervene. While Robert is off trying to save the cardinals, a canister of anti-matter which could blow up the entire city of Rome has gone missing from a top Science laboratory (CERN) and a camera inside the Vatican displays it's count-down towards destruction for the world to see on television. Despite this media coverage, they are unable to locate the exact whereabouts of the canister because the Vatican is so huge. Not only is the Catholic Church running out of candidates for Pope, it is running out of time. The "end" of Catholicism is near!

In the end, the person behind the evil scheme reveals their purpose in a shocking twist of the story's plot. He is obsessed with the fact that the Catholic Church can't seem to compete against Science and Technology. He states...

"Tell me... How can the church condemn that which makes logical sense to our minds! How can we decry that which is now the very foundation of our society! Each time the church raises its voice in warning, you shout back, calling us ignorant. Paranoid. Controlling! And so your evil grows. Shrouded in a veil of self-righteous intellectualism. It spreads like a cancer. Sanctified by the miracles of its own technology. Deifying itself! Until we no longer suspect you are anything but pure goodness. Science has come to save us from our sickness, hunger and pain! Behold science - the new God of endless miracles, omnipotent and benevolent! Ignore the weapons and the chaos. Forget the fractured loneliness and endless peril. Science is here!"

In this same monologue, he explains his need to convince the world of the evils of Science, and says...

"For centuries... the church has stood by while science picked away at religion bit by bit. Debunking miracles. Training the mind to overcome the heart. Condemning religion as the opiate of the masses. They denounce God as a hallucination - a delusional crutch for those too weak to accept that life is meaningless. I could not stand back while science presumed to harness the power of God himself!....The day science substantiates God in a lab is the day people stop needing faith!"

It is then that Vittoria (a Scientist herself) comes back with a response that seems as delusional as the statements above to a Christian who has sound doctrine...

"You mean the day they stop needing the church!" And then she continues, “Doubt is your last shred of control. It is doubt that brings souls to you. Our need to know life has meaning. Man’s insecurity and need for an enlightened soul assuring him everything is part of a master plan. But the church is not the only enlightened soul on the planet! We all seek God in different ways. What are you afraid of? That God will show himself somewhere other than inside these walls? That people will find him in their own lives and leave your antiquated rituals behind? Religions evolve! The mind finds answers, the heart grapples with new truths….God is not some omnipotent authority looking down from above, threatening to throw us into a pit of fire if we disobey. God is the energy that flows through the synapses of our nervous system and the chambers of our hearts! God is in all things!”

I have to admit, I could hardly write that paragraph above without wanting to erase it. It makes the hair on my arms stand up. But I’ll be OK after I pick it apart (like I had wanted to do while we were reading it). First of all, this book assumes that the Catholic Church is the only church. Christianity is not a denomination, but rather the body of Jesus Christ on earth. It spans denominations and is only recognized by the condition of the heart and the fruits in a person’s life. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian is actually a Christian. Yes, we have all done stupid things and the Catholic Church throughout history, especially, has been associated with atrocities (killing of Protestants, killing of Muslims and Jews, etc.)… but not all Christians agreed with the evils their church hierarchy committed – even back in those dark days. God sees into our hearts, and it is sad that the world can not distinguish between true Christianity and the fake kind which actually is self-serving and self-righteous. Anyone can take a good thing and make it bad - if we use it to serve our own purposes and thus begin to worship SELF or MONEY rather than GOD. Christians have a calling to live out our faith, and a lot of us lack in that area on different occasions (me included). We are called to be ambassadors of Christ, and we all should remember books like this one (and the sad theological suicide found within it’s pages) when we think of the seriousness of that charge.

Secondly, Science, as I stated above is not proving that faith is archaic and un-necessary. In fact, every shred of TRUE Scientific evidence over time has proven the Bible to be true. I could write an entire book on this, but I don’t have to, because plenty of authors have beaten me to it – and their books are available for you to buy or check out if you are interested. I’ll just leave you with the link to CSE or Dr. Dino (dot com), Kent Hovind, who has over 17 hours worth of solid video evidence that Darwinism is dead. Science is actually a TOOL that has done nothing but prove the Judeo-Christian God’s account (through the Bible) is factual. Almost every branch of Science was founded by a Christian. You don’t have to leave your brain behind when you leap off the faith bridge. When you see the truth about what macro-evolutionists want you to believe up against the TRUE evidence (not the propaganda and lies), you will see that it is more of a leap of faith to accept their dogma than it is to believe in a Creator. Christianity has nothing to fear from Science. It is rather far-fetched to believe someone would be so afraid of Science that they would embark on a formidable killing spree (as this book depicts).

The book’s statement that doubt is what brings souls to the Church is entirely wrong. Doubt is what turns people AWAY from church. Doubt is why people can read books like this and see nothing wrong with them. People go to church because they start to feel that something is missing. There is a hole in each of our hearts that God put there. We each have a need for Him. Nothing in life can fill that god-sized-hole but a purpose-filled life in Him. We can endure hunger, pain, loneliness, bitterness, anguish… but we can not live without purpose. Evolution provides nothing but a vacuum (and you’d have to have one in your head to believe it). Christianity provides an answer and a reason for living. With Jesus, you have a commission, you have a hope, and you have a future. What do you get with survival of the fittest (if you can manage to swallow that your great-grandfather is a monkey that evolved from a puddle of primordial soup)? Nothing but an excuse to kill and destroy anyone and anything in your way. Remember the Nazi’s? Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s entire evil plan was to breed a superior race in Germany based on a horrific evolutionary theory called “eugenics” (founded by Charles Darwin's cousin). Eugenics claimed to improve the human race using principles from the theory of evolution. Hitler believed man fell into two categories, the “unfit” and the “fit.” This is entirely contradictory to God’s loving claim that all of us are His children, and He desires all of us to choose life and be saved from judgment.

The statement “We all seek God in different ways” is a common one, but is also one that I must rebut. If God is all-powerful, and any God you believe in should be (why trust in a God who is incapable to do anything for you?), then shouldn’t He have the right to make the rules? And let’s say He did make some rules... wouldn’t it then be our responsibility to follow them, as his subjects? Seeking God should be done the way HE desires. In the Bible, God calls us to repent, and live for Him. Here are the statements regarding seeking the Lord that would have been preferable to this misleading theology in Dan Brown’s book:

Proverbs 4:19 - But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

Proverbs 5:21 - For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths.

Proverbs 9:6 - Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.

Isaiah 53:6 - We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him (meaning Jesus) the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 55:8 - "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

John 14:6 - Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Some religions evolve, this much is true. But, Christianity is not merely a religion. Christianity is an entire way of life built on absolute principals given to us by the Father. Just because our society and culture changes, the commandments do not. It is still as wrong today to sin as it was when the world was new. To think that you can just rip pages out of the Bible and make it fit your own ill-conceived notions is wrong. Black is black, white is white – yesterday, today, tomorrow and always. And that brings me to a very serious question… How trustworthy is a religion that changes it’s rules with the changing of the seasons? If you were to play monopoly with your kid sister, and she changed the rules every time you went past “Go”, would you trust that you had a fair chance of winning? The religions that change and re-create themselves (add new holy texts) are the ones you should not trust. The Christian Bible has never changed. The Dead Sea scrolls prove that. What you read today (if you get a good copy of the original texts, and not an Alexandrian copy) is the same as it was all those many years ago when Jesus walked the streets in his sandals. Yes, there are a lot of bible versions, but you can do some research and find out why. It is not because Christianity is changing. It is because man tries to change things he doesn’t like to fit his own selfish motives. This will invariably pull people away from the faith, and create new denominative sects, but the truths of God’s word remain today – whether we believe them or not. This brings Paul's wonderful sermon to the intellectuals in Athens to mind (Acts 17). It is probably my favorite sermon in the Bible, as I relate with Paul the most of the apostles. I was the greatest of sinners, and yet I stand here today, a forgiven woman.

Acts 17:18-31
18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

This last section of the review will focus on the last part of Vittoria’s rebuttal...

“God is not some omnipotent authority looking down from above, threatening to throw us into a pit of fire if we disobey. God is the energy that flows through the synapses of our nervous system and the chambers of our hearts! God is in all things!”

To say God is in all things would be somewhat correct. The Bible says that in Him we live and move and have our being (see verse 28 in Acts 17 above). And I do believe he is in control of even the smallest atom and molecule… even the anti-matter discussed in this book. He knows every hair on our heads and numbers every beat of our heart. This is true. But to limit Him to the natural world, is to put Him in a box in which He doesn’t fit. We are not capable of understanding even the totality of our physical world (thus Science is only the observation and study of it – and is never fully complete), so how can we say that we understand the God who created it? Just because we can only observe the physical, does not mean that God only maneuvers in the physical. This is where Science lacks. There are things that we can not observe – there are unseen things. There are many things in nature that confound man and our Scientific methods of studying them… covalent bonding in water, the human mind, the make-up of light, the amazing creatures found under the sea… the list is endless. God is god of our entire universe, not just what we can see. He is not limited by natural laws. He is a God of Miracles.

Although God does love us, and desire for us all to come to Him and be saved, He is also a God of purity. A holy God can not be corrupted by evil. He has reserved the right, as creator and ruler to prevent that evil (and all who commit it against others) from entering in to Heaven and His presence. If you spill a drop of red into your white paint, it’s no-longer pure white, but very light pink - the more red, the pinker it gets. God prevents Heaven from corruption by preventing sinners from staining it. This is the reason for Hell – and it is a real place according to the Bible (aside from articles I have read about the Catholic Church stating it is only a “state of mind”). Jesus spent much of his ministry warning us about Hell. He almost talked more about it than he did anything else. He didn’t yell or scream. He didn’t spit in anyone’s face or look down on them for their sin. He recognized it and told them to “go and sin no more”. The love that God desires to shower on us does not negate the promise of his judgment to come. For us to ignore it and only listen to “feel good” messages piping out from pulpits across America is to turn our back on Jesus’ warnings. Here are a few:

Matthew 7:14- Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 10:28 - Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Mark 9:43 - If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.

Matthew 13:42 - They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So to sum up my review of Dan Brown’s book, I would have to say that it would be a positive review of a well-written book, that had negative theology. I certainly don't want you to think he's a bad writer. I enjoyed the fiction, and it was a nice plot… but the theology ruined it once and for all. I would suggest that if you are a new Christian, and have not read the Bible all the way through on your own… do that BEFORE reading anything by Dan Brown. If you are already a Christian and want to keep up with culture and see what kind of mentality you are up against (like my husband's college professor), by all means, grab a highlighter and read Angels & Demons for yourself. Make sure to highlight it as you go, every time you see something contrary to scripture popping off the page. I pray that Dan Brown has a wonderful adventure of his own, getting to know Jesus personally – so that rather than living vicariously through the world of symbolism, secret societies, and codes… he can experience the purpose and peace given to us through Christ our Lord.


Gooblink said...

Hey! Thoughtful review! I haven't read Angels and Demons, but it sounds like it may have included more "theological meat" (albeit rotten meat?)than The Da Vinci Code.

I read The Da Vinci Code after hearing all the hoopla about it and was sorely disappointed. I was disappointed because the book wasn't that great - for my literary tastes - I like a lot of depth and imagry...maybe that's why I love the bible so! But the other reason was that I felt the Christian community was giving Mr. Brown and fellow conspiracy theorists too much credence. If you think about it, does it have any bearing on salvation whether or not Jesus was married? I personally believe he was not, but if it were of significance, the bible would mention it. And, even if Jesus had offspring (which again, I don't believe) what damage could that possibly do to The Church today? It would only emphasize that Jesus had a true human side.

Just my 2 cents!

PS, I love Dr. Hovind. The only thing is that I wish he'd also lay off the conspiracy stuff. It impedes his credibility as a scientist, IMHO.

John said...

You're right.... indent craziness!!

I would recommend writing an entire post w/ no blockquotes, & then going through in the compose side of the window (rather than the edit HTML side) & selecting your quotes individually to blockquote them. I tested it w/ a long post & it seemed to work. I've run into problems w/ margins & indents & such myself.

Sprittibee said...

Thanks John. I'm playing with it. I managed to get the margin correct, but now, the blockquotes are not justified. ACK! HTML is not cooperating.

Sprittibee said...

FINALLY! I managed to get the blockquotes to cooperate without destroying my clean, justified margins. :) Makes it so much more legible! Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Being a Christian I really enjoyed the book. I think it had a good story line (some of the parts were gruesome) I found myself actually praising God, not for Mr Browns writing, but for Gods people and even the fact that Jesus name was mentioned in the book. I hope that people don't look at it with a microscope and pick out every flaw. It made me want to explore and learn even more about the vatican, the saints and christianity. If we were all the same it would be a boring world

professorfunky said...

Dear Spirit Bee,
I wish to offer this to you because it seems there are aspects of your faith which seem familiar to me but I which I now see as troubling.
Many people are deeply uncomfortable about uncertainty about life's ultimate questions and for these folks perhaps "doubt" really is the problem. For myself,

doubt is necessary to an open and honest search for truth, both religious and scientific. The Bible (Old Testament, esp) sometimes deals with this issue and

perhaps even accepts doubt as normal. Perhaps the book of Job or even Jacob's "wrestling with the angel may be read this way. I live with both faith and

doubt, and thus my faith is not the same as yours.
But you seem to crave certainty so much that you wish to cast out doubt - isn't this a dangerous and possibly fanatical state of mind? You seem to be

genuinely seeking truth but all you mention in your search are readings and sources that already agree with your standpoint. Do you have the courage to read

and seriously research those that oppose the ideas of your favourite authors? Please don't answer too quickly and search your heart. I will be the first to

admit that this I fail at this too but whan I do I get the same feeling as your "hair standing on end" that you mentioned. It is a _very_ difficult thing

that causes much anguish in me - but that is what I believe the genuine search for truth involves. You are absolutely right that people fashion even good

things to serve "SELF", as you put it but that isn't it evident that this is exactly what one is doing when someone sticks only to those ideas and authors

that keep affirming what one already believes. You dismiss so easily the terrible things done in the name of Christianity and simply state that this was

"bad" Christianity but isn't it possible that religious or other persecutions necessitate that the persecutors be absolutley certain and have no doubts about

what they are doing? What do you think happens to people who don't believe what you believe after they die? Isn't it all too clear what absolute certainty

can do even in our own post 9/11 era?
You repeat things people have told you about "r-evolution" and all the evils it is supposedly responsible for. Yes, the Nazis misused this idea, just like

some Christians misused the message of Christ. To me this anti-evolution fight is a typical example of making idols out of something that has nothing to do

with the central messages even of your faith. So many resources are directed to this evolution fight and so much division and animosity generated that good

people pn both sides are split up (just one of so many splits!) while real and pain and suffering continue all around us. To me, anti-evolution has become a

religious symbol that has almost displaced and obscured the ethical core of what you seem to be getting at.
An honest approach for me would be that we really do use our brains, as you say, but I mean _really_ use our brains and look deeper than Brown's book or just

stuff that confirms our own ideas. We need to listen to others and test our own beliefs by our commitment to truth. Even the Bible must be looked at in

different ways. Would you stone someone to death now for violating the sabbath? The rabbis have changed this and other rulings and rightly so. And so did

Jesus - the Christian faith has indeed evolved from its Jewish roots and if you looked into the history of Christianity you would see that Christianity has

changed in many key ways - read Rev. John Spong's Why Christianity must Change or Die. And please, don't dismiss this as "liberalism" because all that would

be is labelling different views and once again just reaffirming your own beliefs and casting out doubt.
Yes the Dead Sea Scrolls are very close too our existing Old Testament, but these scrolls are still recent compared to the original sources. If you

want to know if the Bible has changed, read James Kugel's _How to Read the Bible_. I must warn you though, if you are a person of traditional faith and at

the same time of honest (not always the same, I'm afraid!), it is a deeply disturbibng book. However, desite my "heretical" readings and search for truth, I

believe I have maintained my faith, even strengthened it and I remain a good person. I invite you to the same difficult journey into faith amid doubt.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sprittibee! Just wanted to throw out there that I appreciate your Christian sense being offended by some of this stuff. I am a History major and I wanted to comment that the middle ages are not actually the kind of "dark" time that is suggested by most people and the typical slant of popular culture. The Catholic Church also has its share of mud flung against it and accusations that are ridiculous, untrue, or irrelevant. When I actually saw the beauty and truth that is the Catholic Church, it moved me so deeply- very deeply- that I converted from being a Methodist. There are so many misunderstandings about it and this Dan Brown, and the rest of popular culture love to attack the Church (and all Christianity). Anyway, I appreciate you speaking up in some way against this garbage! Thank you!
Sorry I can't sign in with any identification, I can't remember any of my log in info! My e-mail is

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for the review. Most helpful.

Chris Jordan said...

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response to Angels and Demons! Yours was the first one that I found after weeks of searching for one online, and it was very well written. Keep up the good work!
(p.s. I just finished writing my own response at

Anonymous said...

all i have to say is that this is just a book and its one opinion and its inappropriate to be rude about someones opinion. you can say his facts are wrong but when you say that his opinions are wrong that is just a disgusting thing to do.

Andrea said...

i never read this book before, but i already watched the movie. like the da vinci code, i think the book is better than the movie.



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