Recently the movie “The Da Vinci Code” based on Dan Brown’s book of the same name was released. There seems to be a fear that this work of fiction could sway the beliefs of many from that of traditional Christian teachings. Here is what I think.
I was raised a Catholic, but now I’m not even a Christian. What changed my belief was not because of some author writing a convincing book, nor was it because of a movie like Martin Scorsese’s film “The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ.” I lost my faith by simply reading and analyzing accepted scriptures.
All forms of Christianity originated from the early Catholic Church. Because of politics, Christianity split up in to different sects, but they all seem to have the same basic belief that Christ was the son of God and that he died for our sins.
The part about him dying for our sins is what I don’t quite understand. According to Christian doctrine everyone is born with “original sin” because Adam disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. And because of our “original sin” we needed a “redeemer” to save us. Hence, God sent his only begotten son to die for our sins and save us. Doesn’t this all sound like a children’s fairy tale?
Why did Adam sin in the first place? When God created him, he gave him a “free will” and because of this “free will” Adam made the decision to sin and was held responsible for his action. But wait a minute; we all know that different people handle temptation in different ways. When looking at a beautiful woman, a young man with raging hormones is more likely to succumb to her advances than another less hormonal and more scholarly man who would examine the pros and cons of being with her. And if the man was created gay, a beautiful woman presents little or no temptation to him.
If God is able to know all things and do all things, all he had to do was tweak Adam’s “free will” so that he couldn’t have succumbed to the temptation of the forbidden fruit. Why should God blame Adam for not listening to him, when he created him to act that way? It wasn’t Adam’s fault that God didn’t give him enough will power to resist the temptation He put before him. The “original sin” is actually God’s own fault. Consequently, we did not need to be “redeemed” and there was no reason for Christ to die. If Christ was God and He suffered so brutally and died for some unnecessary reason, then the Christian God must be a masochist.
When I was in grammar school, I was an altar boy. One of the prayers we would say was to pound on our hearts three times and say the words “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,” which when translated meant “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” I was just an innocent kid then, what could I have possibly done that was considered a grievous fault? Is it because God is like a “corporate alien” manager who always shifts the blame for his mistakes on to his employees? He made a flawed creation and blamed his creation for the flaw. None of this seems to make sense.
The Church itself was another reason I was driven from Christianity. One of Christianity’s biggest spokesperson is the Catholic Church. This is the organization that, in the time of the Inquisition, burned scientists at the stake even when they were later proven to be right. This is the organization that Hitler admired in his book “Mein Kampf”. This is the organization where American bishops covered up the actions of child abusing priests. Why would the true God ever want to be associated with such a group? For that matter, many of the world’s religions that claim to know so much about God are really so heavily flawed in their dealings with man. How could they ever be God’s representatives?
I think that people believe in irrational religious ideas only because they look upon their churches as insurance policies for the hereafter. They don’t want to take a chance on going to hell, and their priests use religious rules and “faith” to guarantee a pleasant afterlife.
Although I don’t believe that Christ was God, I certainly admire his role as one of history’s greatest philosophers. Christ questioned the Jewish religious establishment of his time. He actually criticized the sadistic God of the Old Testament and preached love and tolerance of everyone, and that could have given the religious leaders of the time enough reason to have him crucified. Believing he was married to Mary Magdalene, as suggested by “The Da Vinci Code,” does not alter his philosophy. If anything, being married and raising a family would have given him a better look into the minds of the majority of his followers.
I think, the main effect of “The Da Vinci Code” phenomenon, is to show us how intolerant some religious organizations are. They label the book and movie as “heresy”. They boycott movie theaters. They forbid their followers to read the book or see the movie. This type of intolerance from religious groups extends to other areas as well. Why else can’t Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds coexist peacefully in Iraq? Why can’t the Jews and Palestinians live together in their territories?
When a religion tries to tell you that you can’t read a book or see a movie, it is really insulting your intelligence. If you’re really comfortable with your faith then someone else’s beliefs will not affect you in any way. If you begin to question your beliefs, maybe it’s because they’re not right for you in the first place.
Leonardo Da Vinci, being a great scholar and scientist, probably hated the policies of the Catholic Church during his time. He could have had access to forbidden scriptures but was not able to speak out. His way of expressing such dangerous ideas could have been by placing hidden messages in his paintings. Unless more of his works are discovered, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.