DAN Brown’s book Angels and Demons, a sort of sequel to his world best selling The Da Vinci Code takes the reader into the intricacies of an ancient secret society called the Illuminati.
The Illuminati has its origin in the Middle Ages in the days of the Templar Knights. This group of knights who were initially sworn to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land eventually became so powerful as to be a threat to the kingdoms of that time and even the all powerful papacy such that the King of France and the Pope conspired to have them eliminated and drove the remnants underground.
The Illuminati, simply meaning the Enlightened, is said to be the sworn enemy of the mother church, seeing it as an institution that is dedicated to suppressing truths and knowledge from certain legends surrounding the life and manner of death of Jesus Christ to the days of Galileo who was tried and condemned for daring to say the Earth circled the sun, a statement considered blasphemous to the church teaching that the Earth was the centre of the universe.
Angels and Demons tells the fictional tale of the re-emergence of the Illuminati and its move to take over the papacy in an attempt at world domination, an attempt seen as the ultimate triumph of science and knowledge over religion and faith.
In the age of enlightenment, it would seem to be a truism that the church with its mystic and ancient rituals is outdated, outmoded and overtaken by scientific truth. Indeed, science is poised to overtake religion if it has not already done so. Or has it?
Mankind today has unravelled the very foundations of life, that he can play God and recreate another in his own image and likeness. He can tell what lies at the centre of the earth and tell the climatic conditions of another planet hundreds of millions of light years away. He has created machines that can think and perform many functions man himself would find near impossible to do.
Yet, where has science got man. In the last 100 years while he was “advancing” he has also been solely responsible for manipulating the resources and atmospheric conditions of the earth to a stage where today his own very existence is at stake. That hardly seems to be the action of a sentient being. Armed with all the knowledge as he does has not prevented man from bringing himself nearer to catastrophe, firstly in the accumulation of nuclear weaponry that threatens him still and then through the destruction of the world’s ecology and atmospheric systems.
In that sense, it would make sense to go slow with knowledge such as the church would promote today, to understand fully the socio-economic consequences of each technology or knowledge acquired, each new truth uncovered. For there is a cost to everything and the cost of man’s relentless pursuit of knowledge and of self improvement has led us to the Kyoto Protocol, to the Rio Summit and last week to Copenhagen.
Even in Copenhagen, each concession made has been done grudgingly and in the end the result if mixed, not entirely what the world was expecting.
Every substances known to men that sustains life comes from the Earth. If the earth lives, man lives. If it were allowed to die, so too must man. The earth is living goes one line of thought, that it has vital systems and organs in flesh and liquids, that it has certain conditions that it must meet for its own sustenance.
It hurtles through space using no locomotion known to men. Without wing or flipper or paddle or engine or arms and legs, it hurtles through space at a frightening 66,000kph. As it does it turns on its axis, completing a full revolution every 24 hours creating night and day and the seasons by this motion alone. It circles the sun for its sustenance, held in place by a force greater than any known to men. Millions of other planets, asteroids and meteorites move through space but so far Earth has been lucky or is it luck alone?
For a long time now the earth has been trying to warn man of the danger – in droughts and rainstorms, floods and changing tides to tell of changing weather patterns. It has sent earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural calamities to wake man up but these warnings have gone unheeded.
Today, the earth is desperate, knowing its own life is endangered so incurable diseases suddenly appear, natural calamities increase. This is the action of a world which knows the end is drawing near. These suppositions require faith more than knowledge, religion more than science. This is to suggest that both faith and knowledge, science and religion have a place in this world.
We must give each a place and strive for balance.