Da Vinci Code wins Book of the Year

Dan Brown’s controversial best seller has won the WH Smith book of the year title at the British Book Awards in London. The novel is based on the premise that Jesus married Mary Magdelene, they had children, and the bloodline survives to this day. Perhaps because it is a book it hasn’t yet stirred up much response from our religious media watchdogs. But that is set to change next year when it is released as a film starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, and Sir Ian McKellen.

Only the Vatican has been actively condemning the book, with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa particularly worried about “people of simple faith and unsophisticated culture“.

It astonishes and worries me that so many people believe these lies […] The Book is everywhere. There is a very real risk that the people who read it will believe that the fables it contains are true.

(He was talking about The Da Vinci Code. Stop sniggering!)

43 Responses to “Da Vinci Code wins Book of the Year”

  1. Christopher Shell says:

    Even the author himself says he believes in the version of the origin of Christianity presented in the book, and begins his book with a page of ‘FACTS’ – the implication being that where he is speaking of matters in the real world (art, architecture, codes, secret societies & rituals – and even by implication history) he is being factual.
    Unfortunately he usually refuses interviews. More than ten debunking jobs have been done on his work.

  2. Tania says:

    The book is great, and it doesn’t say anywhere that it is factual – it is a work of FICTION. But yes, some people do believe it, and that’s up to them. I think there could be some truth in it.

    LMAO about the last comment…*cough* Bible *cough*

  3. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Tania-

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is LMAO?
    Would you deny anything I have said in my comment?

  4. Adam Bowman says:

    Laughing My Ass Off, apparently. These acronyms confuse the eternal damnation out of me as well.
    Having never read the Da Vinci Code, or any of the books that support or debunk it, I would have to say that he does imply that a lot of it is factual through his bit at the start, Dr Shell suggests. Whether or not it is, I shall refrain from commenting, purely out of ignorance.
    (I am inclined to believe it, myself. But I like a good conspiracy.)

  5. culfy says:

    In the front of the Da Vinci Code, it states that everything in the book relating to Opus Dei, the Priory of Sion etc is fact.

  6. Christopher Shell says:

    I have discussed the fact/fiction issues in the Da Vinci Code at:

  7. Tania says:

    Sorry Christopher I’m so used to using shorthand; yes LMAO does mean Laughing My Arse Off…
    No I do not disagree with any of your comments, the author does indeed state at the beginning of the book that all the info about The Priory of Sion and Opus Dei, and also all the info about the picture locations in the Louvre is correct. The rest is just one of many conspiracy theories, it just threatens the Church and their foundations. I think it’s a brilliant theory that is as likely as any other.


  8. Tania says:

    Oh and by the way I just visited your site and the analysis of the book. I would just like to say that I found it intriguing and answered a lot of my questions about the Da Vinci Code. Well done!

  9. Christopher Shell says:

    Two things puzzle me though:
    (1) How can you both approve my site and also approve the DaVinci Code ‘theory’? The two are opposed to each other.
    (2) Don’t you think it is only specialists who are qualified to say whether the theory is good or bad?
    Non-specialists can say whether or not they might WANT such a theiry to be true. But unless they have the background knowledge, their opinion would not be worth much. Just like my opinion on car mechanics, or fashion, is not worth much.

    Unless people have any knowledge of the historical periods in question (and Dan Brown is not a specialist in thesee things: he is an English teacher), then they are not yet qualified to say whether they think a theory is likely.
    They can say that they LIKE the theory (because it fits in with their wants and wishes) but that is not at all the same as saying that the theory is likely to be correct.

    Surely you know that the fact that a theory threatens the Church is not (in itself) evidence that the theory is correct. There are people with anti-Christian agendas, just as there are people with Christian agendas.
    Forget agendas. Concentrate on hard evidence.
    Not a single New Testament professor anywhere in the world, whether they are Christian, Jewish, agnostic, or atheist, takes Brown’s so-called ‘theories’ seriously.
    The man in the street doenst realise this. The man in the street might like Brown’s ‘theories’ to be true.
    But big publicity is not at all the same thing as big plausibility.
    And whether or not a person might want the theories to be true, that has absolutely nothing to do with the question of whether they actually are true.
    For that we must turn to evidence, and to specialists: both Christian and non-Christian specialists have written several books debinking the Da Vinci Code theories.

  10. Tania says:


    I didn’t say that the theory was true, I just said that it was brilliant. By that I mean that it was a well thought out well reasearched idea (according to me anyway), and that just because there is no mention of any of it in the Bible (which is probably a load of rubbish anyway) does not mean that it is not true.

    And I didn’t say I believed in the theory; I merely said it was ‘as likely as any other’. Which it is.

    I do not appreciate people telling me that I cannot believe in a theory just because I haven’t been educated in the matter. Yes I think the theory is good, and yes my opinion may mean bugger all because I am not qualified to say so. But I *do* have a right to state whether I think it is good or not. Whether my oppinion means anything to you es not matter to me; you have the right to state yours, and I have the right to state mine, regardless of the fact that you are obviously more aware of the topic than me.


  11. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Tania

    I disagree!! (sorry!)

    If the topic is one where I have no knowledge (eg car mechanics) I dont voice an opinion, I just say I am unqualified to hold an opinion. Which is absolutely true. I am unqualified.

    If the theory is ‘as likely as any other’ then all theories must be equally likely. Which means that true theories are equally likely to crackpot ones. Come, now! You dont really believe that informed and uninformed opinions are really ‘equally’ likely to be true. If they were, then my opinion on car mechanics would be ‘equally likely’ to the opinion of a trained car mechanic. But it isnt, and surely you dont believe that it is.

    ‘The Bible…which is probably a load of rubbish anyway’ – another case in point. It is only those who have not looked into a topic in any great depth who can make such wild sweeping generalisations. But this particular matter is an important one. Best to suspend judgment and not give any opinions until youve looked into the matter.

    After all, I never give any opinions on car mechanics. And quite right too!!

  12. Tania says:

    Well I have to say that is a fair enough argument – good point – but I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one!


  13. tom p says:

    So if one has no knowledge on a subject, then one cannot comment informedly onit, eh “doc”?
    So does that mean that your squad of gullibles and biblical absolutists will stay out of commenting on the meejah from now on? or that you’ll simply defer to scientists when it comes to evolution?
    go on, say it, baby, you know you want to

  14. Tania says:

    That was what I was trying to say Tom….I don’t really have a way with words!


  15. tom p says:

    I thought you rather admirably led him onto a trap made of his own illogic

  16. Christopher Shell says:

    Tom –

    Read my previous remarks. The whole point of the evolution debate is that one should pay more attention to experts than nonexperts.
    The topic is not merely a scientific one but also a logical one to some extent. on logical issues I can at least comment. On scientific ones it would be no good listening to me, when there are so many trained scientists around, so I would plead ignorance. All my previous comments have been logical ones not scientific ones. Both are relevant.

    Hey Tania-
    You must think I am a beast, but the ‘agree to disagree’ thing is nonsense as well. It means we have chosen not to think/research/discuss any more – and clearly anyone would prefer the approach that persists with thought/research/discussion to the approach that simply throws in the towel. The former approach, alas, is linked to relativism which is a self-refuting philosophy.

  17. tom p says:

    Where does non-scientific comment have a place in dicussions of evolution? Where does logic have a place in religious theories?
    Relativism is not a single philosophy. It is a rejection of the absolutism preached (not argued, mind you, but preached) by most religions. You claim that all goodness stems from ‘god’. If this isn’t relativism (since it means there are no inherent goods or bads, just decrees from ‘god’), then I don’t know what is.
    this is why many here are suspicious of your title

  18. Christopher Shell says:

    Both scientific and philosophical training can help in the discussion of evolution. It is a matter of biology; it is also a matter of metaphysics: what sort of things exist, or can exist?
    Logicians (not that I am one, tho’ I have had some logical training) can help biologists in pointing out two kinds of things:
    (1) where their presuppositions have not been examined;
    (2) where their points are self-contradictory.
    But everyone would agree that the more disciplines one is trained in, the more helpful it is and the more angles one can see. Biology plus logic is always going to be better than mere biology. Alas (being without scientific training, albeit with a love of Darwin and the Beagle voyages), Im capable of neither – only of logic without biology. But there are plenty of ppl who are.

    ‘Where does logic have a place in religious theories?’ – Dont understand. (1) Logic has a place everywhere, unless we are planning to be illogical, which is not a good move. (2) The category ‘religious’ is vague & incoherent. But insofar as I can understand the term ‘religious’ at all (what does it mean???) it seems to me that it was precisely the religious ppl who were Jesus’s enemies. The Jesus whom ppl follow isnt/wasnt a ‘religious’ person (how meaningless can one get?) but an historical person.

    ‘Not argued but preached’??? R u sure you have the right target here? Argument (not preaching) is the staple diet of all serious debaters on this site.

  19. Tania says:

    Sorry to butt in here with the evolution argument, I’m not going to comment on it because to be honest I feel I am under-qualified *according to Doctor Chris*, so I am insuperior and therefore have no right to comment on this topic. *cough cough*
    But to continue with the previous discussion, I merely said we should ‘agree to disagree’ so that I could hold the peace and not get into an even more aggressive discussion. I can see this is getting no where, and cannot be bothered to have a one sided discussion; it is obvious that the both of us aren’t going to change our minds, as we both have (opposing) strong views on the matter.
    Tom – thanks…love the quote “Where does logic have a place in religious theories”. It’s the quote of the day!

  20. Christopher Shell says:

    Hey Tania-
    What’s wrong with being under-qualified? There are millions of things in the world to know about, and every single person is underqualified to comment on at least 90% of them.
    Socrates was considered to be the wisest man who had yet lived, because he was the first one to realise how little he knew.
    You said ‘we both have strong views’…but surely the point is that it is impossible to have any views (strong or weak) unless one has first looked into the subject a bit. When one does so, one will often change one’s views.
    Until that time, one has no views. No beliefs. No opinions. Only wishes. And wishful thinking never made anything true.
    If it’s only aggression that you are worried about, it is perfectly possible to have the same discussion in a peaceful way. Though remember that people often misinterpret precise, accurate and clear expression to be aggression. Some people even misinterpret all disagreement as aggression. No issues are likely to be solved while people hold either of these misinterpretations.

    Re ‘religion’, read my comment 18. I am and always have been anti-religion and pro-Jesus.

  21. tom p says:

    No. evolution is not a matter of metaphysics. It is a matter of biology. And scientific theories are scrutinised from every posible angle, usually by rivals who would love to blow a hole in someone else’s theory. As far as I’m concerned, everyone should be interested in such things – they’re fascinating, and addressing them from a viewpoint of seeking to increase knowledge, rather than spouting mumbo jumbo is always helpful.
    Religious was used in the sense of deriving from a soi disant god, such as christianity.
    The theories for the creation of the universe, the world, and the inhabitants of the world propounded by christianity (and indeed any other religion), are utterly illogical and nonsensical. logci clearly has no place in them, nor does using such religions as a basis for one’s life.
    I was not saying that anyone here was preaching, merely that religions do. Hence the term ‘preacher’ used for priest.

    Of course, one can have views, beliefs or opinions on things that one has not looked into. eg, I have not looked into Peter Sutcliffe’s ‘yorkshire ripper’ killings, yet it is my firm belief that it was wrong. it is my opinion that he should not have done it. in my view, he’d’ve been better off not doing it. I’d say that I have to disagree with you on that point

  22. Tania says:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with being under qualified, that is my point. And how can you assume that I have not looked into these things? Just because you have ‘resaearched’ all this stuff doesn’t mean that I haven’t.
    Like I said before it doesn’t look like we’re getting anywhere, so I’m not going to continue arguing about MY VIEWS. And yes, I do have views which I am entitled to. I’m sorry but I’m not going to change my mind any time soon – you’ve not convinced me to change MY VIEWS.
    Basically I agree with what tom said in the previous post – I have opinions and I will stick to them regardless of whether they’re appreciated or not.

  23. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Tania
    That’s exactly the point.
    The world is divided into openminded people and people who ‘are not going to change their mind soon’. Why belong to the more closedminded group rather than to the openminded group?
    The fact that you have already made up your mind proves that your opinions are not opinions at all – they are just wishes. If someone openminded encounters evidence that means they have to change their mind, they will change their mind. For all I know, I might encounter such evidence tomorrow. That’s why I would never say ‘I wont change my mind soon’. Because one can never know that.

  24. Tania says:

    I am a totally open minded person – that is why I am interested in these things like JSTO and the Da Vinci Code – things that are different.
    When I said I had made my mind up I meant about the whole ‘worth of an opinion’ debate. I wasn’t referring to subject of the Da Vinci Code, I was talking about the points you made about what I should and should not say was good/bad.
    I will not change my mind any time soon about this – I will always give my opinion on whether I think something is good or not; regardless of my “qualifications”. Not because I am not open minded (in fact I am the extreme opposite of this), just because I know that I am entitled to give my opinion. Even if you are more qualified or whatever it is.
    Look whatever you say this is going round in circles; you’re never going to understand what I mean. Because it seems as is you are the ‘closed-minded’ one here, not me. And it looks like a lot of the other posters on here will agree.

  25. tom p says:

    doc – tania has a point. An opinion does not have to be formed from study, but arises from thinking about something (or in some cases, not thinking about it). Your description of her opinions as ‘wishes’ does seem like an attempt to belittle her understanding of the issue.
    you’re again sending an argument down into a cul-de-sac over semantics, thus diverting attention from the fundamental point, which you were both interested in discussing. It’s very infuriating, y’know

  26. Christopher Shell says:

    It’s annoying I know – but actually it is very often the unexamined presuppositions which are the weak link in a given point-of-view.

    Surely it is not possible for someone open-minded to use the phrase: ‘I will not change my mind any time soon about this.’?

    An opinion formed from study is a proper opinion.
    An opinion which is willing to learn from those who have studied is also a proper opinion.
    An ‘opinion’ which is not willing to learn from those who have studied is most likely a wish rather than an opinion. Even professors learn new things every day, & that’s why I cant think of any good reason why anyone should close their mind to doing so.

    Hi Tania-
    When people disagree with other people, they do so because they are being honest and truthful, not because they are trying to make friends or lose friends. When they disagree, they will become unpopular with people who can’t distinguish between focussing on issues and focussing on personalities. I am well used to that, and Im not out to be popular (though of course it would be nice). When the name of the game is debate, then Im out to be accurate and truthful. Once someone is unpopular, then people will use all sorts of adjectives about them, including ‘closed-minded’, even when they are the very people most likely to use actual supported argument rather than assertion. In short, the adjectives people use about other people are nothing to do with the quality of their arguments, and everything to do with how popular or unpopular they are.

  27. tom p says:

    I can’t believe that you’ve so spectacularly missed the point yet a-blooming-gain.
    Tania stated categorically

    When I said I had made my mind up I meant about the whole ‘worth of an opinion’ debate. I wasn’t referring to subject of the Da Vinci Code, I was talking about the points you made about what I should and should not say was good/bad.

    If anything, this is a position of principle, rather than just an opinion, and one which you seem to really hold too (after all, to give one example, you’re happy to discuss statistics (well, at least demand them) without ever having studied them). A principled position is one that one is unlikely to change any time soon, unless circumstances change, of course.

    Regarding your point to Tania, that the adjectives used about people are not about the quality of argument, that is clearly not necessarily true.
    I’ve spent some time discussing things with you, and there are plenty of adjectives that could be used to describe you (and I don’t mean the sort you hate to hear, even when not about you) based on opinions formed from arguing with you. Some will be positive and some negative, that’s the way things are. It was, in fact, you who brought the name calling into it by implying, none-too-subtly, that you believe Tania to be “closedminded” (sic). The reason you thought she was being such was that yet again you’d (intentionally?) led a discussion down a cul-de-sac. You then interpreted what she was saying about whether or not she was fit to hold an opinion on the da vinci code as though she was saying it about her opinion on the da vinci code.
    She, having read your piece, said that it supplied her with some answers to questions she’d had. If thanking your opponent (for want of a better word) for supplying you with some useful information during a debate is “closedminded” (sic), then I’d like to meet someone you consider to be “openminded” sic.

  28. tom p says:

    In fact, Tania’s firmly held and unlikely to change soon opinion that she has as much right to enter a debate as the next person could be said to be a belief, something that you know all about and clearly base much of your outlook on. Or are you saying that beliefs are just wishes and that you merely hope that ‘god’ exists, but you’re open to persuasion otherwise?

  29. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi again-
    I know! But Im not sure what difference it makes. Because ‘Im not changing my mind any time soon’ is something one wouldnt say about any matter at all, if one were truly open-minded. (There are exceptions, e.g. very obvious things. But that it is a good thing for ppl to offer their opinions about matters on which theyre uninformed -e.g. me offering my opinion on car mechanics – rather than spend the same time becoming better educated- is not obvious.)

    I have no idea whether Tania is open-minded or closed-minded. For all I know she may be a mixture. She was (to date) closed-minded about that particular matter, but that doesnt mean she will automatically be closed-minded about everything.

    It was not her thanks for the article that was closed-minded. When did I say that? (puzzled!!) It was her refusal to budge on the questionable & unpondered modern dogma (witnessed on phone-ins etc) that everybody’s opinion is valid, even equally valid.

    ‘Belief’ is a highly complex word:
    (1) Belief and knowledge are closely connected, since possibly the first prerequisite for knowledge is that it is true belief (cf. Plato’s ‘Meno’);
    (2) ‘Belief’ in the sense of ‘dogma’ is completely different. Dogma (ie unexamined ‘belief’, or so-called belief) is the enemy of scholarship and open investigation.
    (3) We have watertight copper-bottomed 100% knowledge about very few things. About other things, we just weigh up the options, and judge which we consider to be the likeliest. In English, that’s what we call ‘faith’. We have reasonable/justified faith (not 100% knowledge) that the taxi driver is not a crook, or that the plane wont crash.
    (4) Confusingly enough, this is not generally what the New Testament means by faith. The NT has a single word (pistis) for ‘faith’ and ‘belief’, and does not distinguish the two. But neither ‘faith’ nor ‘belief’ is the best translation for ‘pistis’: rather, ‘trust’ or ‘commitment’. That’s why the NT has unusual formations like ‘believe on’ or ‘believe into’ (in old translations). It’s talking about trust/commitment/throwing in one’s lot with. The element of risk/uncertainty is occasionally but not usually what is highlighted (‘We walk by faith not by sight’; ‘faith is the evidence of things not seen’). Usually, by contrast, what is highlighted is commitment to Christ (no uncertainty about his existence is implied, as he is a figure of history . That’s why it’s often best to avoid the words ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ altogether – they are so ambiguous and easily misunderstood.
    (5) If the above emphasis on true belief and weighing up the options sounds a bit like the empirical approach which concentrates on evidence, then that’s exactly what it is. Where we have absolute knowledge go with it. Where we dont (and we usually dont), then go with the evidence. One of the surest & most objective forms of evidence (though often still highly debatable) is mathematical/statistical evidence. Stats are generally imperfect – on the other hand they are regularly the best (& most objective) that we have.
    You’re so right that Im not an expert in stats. But Ive studied logic, and Im ok at pure maths – and these overlap with stats.

  30. tom p says:

    It’s all getting a bit convoluted.
    Tania read a book and said that she admired the central conceit (“I think it’s a brilliant theory that is as likely as any other.”).
    Having read the book and looked for answers to some questions it raised (see comment 8), one could not call her uninformed and especially not closed mineded.
    Tania believes that, given the nature of this forum and that she is at least partly informed on the subject, she should have a right to express an opinion on this book and its central conceit.
    Frankly, she has a perfectly good point and there is no reason why that should change soon, unless a group of intellectual scholars invade this thread and start arguing in such an intelligent manner that the rest of us are reduced to the role of slack-jawed bystanders admiring their logic and intelligence and gasping at their magnificent prose.
    Surely you have to concede that your view is mistaken.
    Asking people to believe the bible (even just the nu testament) and not the da vinci code is about as intellectually honest as asking people to believe winnie the pooh and not swallows and amazons. they’re both works of fiction

  31. tom p says:

    aaaaaaaaaaaaargh! a fecking smiley icon has appeared in my text.
    I did not intentionally cause it to be there. The phrase should have read (see comment eight), but with the eight expressed numerically, ie “8”.

  32. Christopher Shell says:

    Two requests then:
    (1) Can you share your research into the genre of the New Testament with us;
    (2) Can you explain how letters (at any rate, these particular letters) can be works of fiction;
    (3) Can you explain why not a single New Testament professor – out of perhaps 1000 altogether – Jew, Christian, atheist, agnostic – shares your view that the NT is a work of fiction?

  33. Christopher Shell says:

    Make that 3 requests (looks like maths is not my strong point after all…) 😮

  34. tom p says:

    1 – Fantasy. A lead character who c’n feed 5,000 with a couple of loaves and five fishes? Rising from the dead? water into wine? Son of ‘god’? Sounds like fantasy to me. All it lacks is a magic sword and some dragons.
    2 – Any letters could be a work of fiction, if they’re not sent to anyone then an imaginary response is made up. Example:
    Dear Tony Blair,
    why don’t you apologise for taking this country into an illegal war, you smug murdering cunt?
    Yours, Tom

    Dear Tom,
    You’ve got me bang to rights, guv, and no mistake. I’m very, very, sorry. Please pass this on to the people of Britain.
    your pal,
    Clearly fake letters. You want them on lavender-scented notepaper?
    3 – ‘cos it would put them out of a job. A new testament professor is hardly likely to point out that it’s a load of old cock and is hardly an impartial observer. You seem to have remarkable faith in these people who study a single work of fiction for a living.

  35. tom p says:

    Hang on, yet again you’ve ignored when you’ve clearly been shown to be wrong and grasped at an unrelated point to try and take the argument on another tack, so you can pretend that you haven’t clearly been shown to be utterly incorrect. that’s about the 3rd time this thread.
    I despair, I really do

  36. Monitor says:

    LOL. At least we’ve got his m.o. figured out. Let me reply on doc’s behalf.

    Your argument amounts to “I declare that you have shown to be wrong, therefore you are clearly wrong.” Is that tenable?

    There are two possibilities:
    a) I am right, but you do not realise it because of your western presuppositions
    b) I am right, and you know it, but cannot admit it because you are closed minded.

    Which is it to be?

  37. Tania says:

    Ermm….I think both!

  38. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Monitor
    What’s m.o.? It means mail order in this part of England 😮

    Hi Tom
    There’s one sure thing: when someone makes a wild sweeping generalisation, they aint an expert. ‘It’s all fiction innit?’, regarding 27 separate writings from 2000 years ago counts as a wild sweeping generalisation.

    Certainly fictional letters are possible. But what evidence would you cite in favour of the New Testament letters being all fictional (ie having had no real recipients)? Im only asking that you produce one out of a thousand accredited NT scholars (and remember that these guys include several who are highly critical of some aspects of the NT) in your support. ‘Cos I can produce the other 999 in mine.

  39. Christopher Shell says:

    Re your original point:
    I dunno. I thought Id answered these points already. Namely: each of us can in theory comment on any matter. Some in a more informed way, some in a less informed, and various degrees in between. Obviously not all our contributions will be equally valuable (eg mine on car mechanics will be of no value whatsoever). This being so, our time would be better spent swotting up on the topics in question before hazarding an opinion. But there’s no law against hazarding an opinion.

  40. What’s m.o.? It means mail order in this part of England

    There you go again, prescribing to things only the meaning you are aware of. It means “mail order” to you in your part of England. I’m sure there are many folk around you that are aware of it as an abbreviation of “modus operandi”.

  41. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Richard-
    Honestly! I humbly ask for information, I make a feeble joke, and you explode! What innocent activity is there left for me to indulge in? 😮

  42. Tania says:

    Daisy Chaining.

  43. Christopher Shell says:

    LOL @ Tania