Origin By Dan Brown


Try ‘Paul Gauguin …’ in google , it’ll return the most trended search ‘paul gauguin where do we come from’. Dan Brown writes in the book, ‘Art inspired by science’. He takes this link from Gauguin’s 1897 painting and continue his investigation with Synthetic Intelligence and quantum computing. Washington Post published an article titled ‘There are more atheists and agnostics entering Harvard than Protestants and Catholics‘ in Sep 2015. It’s an interesting fact that the younger generation from an advanced country is more rational and very importantly with the right access to the tools to investigate and verify the religious claims of the world existence and human existence and their origin.

Of course, Harvard is not a right sample to reflect the world reality as we are witnessing growing religious intolerance and sometimes culminated into violence. Prof. Mark Juergensmeyer puts, ” … religion is not innocent. But it does not ordinarily lead to violence. That happens only with the coalescence of a peculiar set of circumstances – political, social, and ideological – when religion becomes fused with violent expressions of social aspirations, personal pride, and movements for political change.”


Origin is not only about Origin of life but also some other important debates and dialogues on science, religion and politics. The plot revolves around 5 murders with needle of suspicion pointing towards the employees of Royal palace of Spain, a fanatical church and religious chiefs and  the royal palace itself! Dan Brown introduces advancement in AI to SI. Give quick glimpse about telomere reproduction, veiling C2 values in GSM, D wave and many other developments in science and technology while dealing the plot.

origin_01Debate between Science and Religion can’t be settled in 450 page mystery thriller  but what is more important as the fictional character  Robert Langdon thinks, ‘Dialogue is always more important than consensus’. Posting convincing questions to continue the dialogue is an art such as Would you rather live in a world without technology … or in a world without religion? When they come with direct contradiction. Meanwhile without losing the sense of synthesis between science and religion.

In a nutshell Spain can’t afford another Francisco Franco who is responsible for the murder of 400,000 people during his dictatorship between 1936 and 1975. Dan Brown’s waring in Origin is that dictatorship of Francisco is over but the objective and subjective conditions for the emergence of such dictatorship still possible if the subjects are not vigilant. Origin is not against the religion per se but against religious fanaticism, in the Spanish context it’s not against Catholicism but against political Catholicism. In the Indian context it’s Hinduism and the Hindutva, political project of the Brahminism in the guise of revival of Hinduism.

It altogether a separate question that  Francisco who raised to the power with the military support of German Nazis and Italian fascists continue in power till 1975 HMF_Dictadoreseven Nazis and  fascists are defeated in WWII? Spain which was successfully isolated from the UN till the USA started to normalize the relations with Francisco’s Spain in 1953 by signing the Pact of Madrid, admitted into the UN with the USA support and then the President Eisenhower visited Spain in 1959. Mr.Richard Nixon glorified Francisco as , “General Franco was a loyal friend and ally of the United States.”

If in natural science God is ‘God of Gaps’, in social science they are ‘gods of fear’. Poseidon for Greeks  and Neptune for Romans made unnecessary followed by mankind’s scientific knowledge developed about seas, oceans and lunar cycles impact on them and the list goes. Science bestows an individual not only with personal confidence but also with the humanity as whole with collective social confidence. Humanity needs such collective knowledge and confidence in the best interest of the society. As an important character said in this novel, “… History has proven repeatedly that lunatics will rise to power again and again on tidal waves of aggressive nationalism and intolerance, even in places where it seems utterly incomprehensible … and it’ll happen we are not vigilant”.

Origin has made a lot of relevance to India where rationalists such as Gauri Lankesh, Hindutva_MurderMM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, Ranjan Rajdeo, Sai Reddy, Jagendra Singh et al are eliminated in cold blooded murder for standing for the rational ideas and moral. India needs people like Dan Brown to tell our story as fiction.

On this count, this book is an interesting and indispensable for the people from land of Trump and Modi !

I think, this novel may go for motion picture adaptation since it’s a screenplay in itself !  Indians will be curious to see who will cast a lead IT security agent of the Royal palace, Suresh.

S Karthikeyan

Santa Clara, California


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