If there is an underlying “message” in Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol, it is that people should not discount the mystical, the spiritual, or the “un-scientific.” He maintains that the “ancient wisdom” of the religious and the mysterious often contains truth that goes beyond what we can see or hear or measure.
Actually, he goes a step further, suggesting the ultimate merger of science and mysticism and predicting a time when souls can be weighed, thoughts measured, and the spirit’s control over physical matter demonstrated.
The threads of these messages run throughout the book:
“Thought is an actual thing, a measurable entity, with a measurable mass.”
“The coalescing of millions of minds can affect random function and bring order from chaos.”
“Once we realize that we are truly created in the Creator’s image, we will start to understand that we too must be creators.”
“Now science, which for centuries has derided religion as superstition, must admit that its next big frontier is quite literally the science of faith and belief.. The same science that eroded our faith in the miraculous is now building a bridge back across the chasm it created.”
“There is a hidden world behind the one we all see. For all of us.”
The book talks of “streams of energy pouring through the healer’s fingertips” and “Christ with rays of light flowing from his head and hands.”
Brown mentions repeatedly the “age of enlightenment” that began to usher in during the mid 1800s, and ties it to deeper examination of “the word” or the Bible.
He talks of the body as a temple for the spirit and how faith or concentrated thought can “have an incredible healing effect, can literally regenerate cells.”
He quotes Einstein, “That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
He respects “Noetic Science” which he calls “an unlikely fusion of modern particle physics and ancient mysticism.”
He displays a healthy if not overblown respect for the symbols and mysteries and hidden meanings of Masonry and of mystical sources from various cultures and parts of the world.
As you read, you start to wonder how much he knows about Mormonism, because there is such a fit with much of what he says. It is doubtful that any other church would support some of his directions and conclusions as specifically as does the Restored Gospel.
The irony is that at one point in the book, Brown suddenly offers a quick caveat about how, even though there is deep and powerful truth in many things beyond our physical understanding or mental logic, “it does not mean that all legend is true.” Then he speaks of modern religions including stories that “do not hold up to scientific scrutiny: everything from Moses parting the Red Sea..to Joseph Smith using magic eyeglasses to translate the Book of Mormon from a series of gold plates he found buried in upstate New York. Wide acceptance of an idea is not proof of its validity.”So while attempting to lend credibility to all kinds of mystic practices, from Masonic ritual to Zoroastrianism, he seems hesitant to do the same with the one modern religion that best illustrates his messages and conclusions.
A second level of irony is that the main theme of what the main character is learning from the “ancient wisdom” is that men can become like God and that there is a process called “Apotheosis” or the deifying of man. The Constantino Brumidi painting on the interior dome of the Capitol, he argues, is a painting of George Washington becoming a God. The central truth of ancient wisdom, in Brown’s mind, is that “as above, so below” or that Man is created in God’s image and can be deified into a God. He says it over and over, in varying degrees:
“All of the ancient texts are, in their own way, quietly whispering the exact same message, ‘Know ye not that ye are gods?'”
“The only difference between you and God is that you have forgotten you are divine.”
“If we accept, as Genesis tells us, that ‘God created man in his own image,’ then we also must accept what this implies-that mankind was not created inferior to God.”
He is essentially advocating the very center core of the restored belief that he has judged too strange to fit in with the mystical truths that he feels we could consider and believe despite there being no tangible proof for them.
As a Mormon reader, you begin to wonder how much he knows about the Restoration and you begin to wish he knew more, since so many of his tenets are so closely related and could be further enlightened by what Joseph Smith said and wrote.
Whatever you think of the story and of the entertainment value of The Lost Symbol, Brown should be appreciated for his attempts to suggest that there are truths and wisdom in the Spiritual world that are of greater depth than the scientific, and that science is catching up so that someday there will be a perfect merger between the two.
And if he is praised for those attempts, he should probably also be criticized for not doing more research on the one religion that could have backed up his claims better than all the rest.