The crowd gathered to hear from the man who brought us such works as “Digital Fortress,” “Angels and Demons” and his most notable work, “The Da Vinci Code,” and to learn about the writing style and philosophy behind the stories of Dan Brown that mix religion and faith to make calculating thrillers.
A sizable crowd turned out to hear the author Oct. 6 at the antiquated-but-preserved McFarlin Memorial Auditorium at Southern Methodist University. The Dallas Museum of Art, the group that sponsored the event, heralded on their website that it was Brown’s “first public appearance in Dallas.”
Brown’s father introduced him. A retired mathematics professor and textbook author, Richard Brown delighted the audience by showing off the first book Dan wrote as a child, which his late mother Constance bounded in cardboard and strung with yarn.
Dan Brown entered the auditorium to thunderous applause, spoke of his humble beginnings as a writer and then turned to his new book. “Origin” deals with central character Robert Langdon searching for answers to the philosophical questions, Why are we here? and Where are we headed?
Brown then showed a video about his research for the book, which took place in Spain, and included interviews with scientists. The video ended with the book cover and the profound tagline: ‘Will God survive science?’
Faith and science intertwined throughout Brown’s upbringing. He displayed his mother’s license plate which read Kyrie, the Greek word for God, and his father’s license plate, Metric.
The mixture of the two elements in his work created its share of controversy, particularly when “The Da Vinci Code” was released. But Brown said some of it was overblown with the idea that the uproar would be short-lived. He said a cardinal of the Catholic Church was quoted as saying that the church “survived the writings of Galileo and Darwin, so it should survive the writing of some guy from New Hampshire.”
The author recalled a priest in Boston pointing to him on the street and calling out “I do not approve of your book!” The priest later told him that Bible meetings at his church consisted of about eight people until “The Da Vinci Code” was a topic of discussion. The topic drew crowds of around 400 people.
The question of existence inspired Brown to write. It was inspired by an event of his youth when he asked a priest whether the teaching of Adam and Eve
or the teaching of evolution was accurate. The priest responded by saying, “Nice boys don’t ask that question.”
During research for the new book, Brown spoke with scientists who said the creation artificial intelligence is inevitable. Brown wondered what would happen if the robot was given a conscience, concealed in a confined space and given the ability to form thoughts. He wondered if the robot would ponder who created it and to ask what purpose it was to serve on this planet. Brown used the concept as an analogy as to why people should not be afraid to ask questions.