Friday, February 27, 2009

Angels and Demons: Book Review

Following the success of The Da Vinci Code, Hollywood is turning to another of Dan Brown's novels for more conspiracy thriller movie moments. Having previously enjoyed reading Angels and Demons, I thought I would return to it before the movie is released.

The book is centred on the events of the Vatican Conclave of cardinals, when the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church gather to elect a new Pope. The last time I read the book was round about the time of the election of Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, which gave it even more topical interest. Having read it again, I notice that it's even more topical, with its descriptions of the CERN Large Hadron Collider, seeking the Big Bang 'God Particle' which provides the antimatter terror threat exploited by the Illuminati. The Illuminati are the successors of a bunch of scientists condemned by the Vatican who formed a secret society to plan the overthrow and destruction of the Catholic Church in revenge.

As with the Da Vinci Code, Brown sends his hero symbologist, Robert Langdon, on a high-speed chase across Rome seeking to save lives and follow the ancient Path of Illumination, as the seconds tick away on the antimatter hidden within the Vatican. Expect more conspiracy theories, secret societies, architectural gems, suspicious characters and the usual unexpected twists in the tale.

However, the central issue which is discussed time and again is that of science and religion. Are they complementary or contradictory? How do scientists have faith, or how do churchmen view science? Will the Roman Catholic Church continue to war against the advance of science, or will it make peace with the footsoldiers of atoms?

As usual, Dan Brown's theological view seems to be all over the place. Occasionally he says something worthwhile, but then it quickly descends into nonsense again. However, it might be useful for some Christians to re-read the book (or read it for the first time) before the film hits our cinemas in May 2009, to be able to discuss the issues. Certainly, it's a page-turner, and will provide discussion starters with those on the outside of the church.

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