Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Do you believe in God, Mr. Langdon?

Vittoria was watching him. “Do you believe in God, Mr. Langdon?”
The question startled him. The earnestness in Vittoria’s voice was even more disarming than the inquiry.
Do I believe in God? He had hoped for a lighter topic of conversation to pass the trip.
A spiritual conundrum, Langdon thought. That’s what my friends call me. Although he studied religion
for years, Langdon was not a religious man. He respected the power of faith, the benevolence of churches,
the strength religion gave so many people . . . and yet, for him, the intellectual suspension of disbelief that
was imperative if one were truly going to “believe” had always proved too big an obstacle for his
academic mind. “I want to believe,” he heard himself say.
Vittoria’s reply carried no judgment or challenge. “So why don’t you?”
He chuckled. “Well, it’s not that easy. Having faith requires leaps of faith, cerebral acceptance of
miracles—immaculate conceptions and divine interventions. And then there are the codes of conduct. The
Bible, the Koran, Buddhist scripture . . . they all carry similar requirements—and similar penalties. They
claim that if I don’t live by a specific code I will go to hell. I can’t imagine a God who would rule that
“I hope you don’t let your students dodge questions that shamelessly.”
The comment caught him off guard. “What?”
“Mr. Langdon, I did not ask if you believe what man says about God. I asked if you believed in God.
There is a difference. Holy scripture is stories . . . legends and history of man’s quest to understand his
own need for meaning. I am not asking you to pass judgment on literature. I am asking if you believe in
God. When you lie out under the stars, do you sense the divine? Do you feel in your gut that you are
staring up at the work of God’s hand?”
Langdon took a long moment to consider it.

This excerpt is from "Angels & Demons" by Dan Brown. I, too, am taking a long moment to consider it.