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Survey Claims The Da Vinci Code Undermines Faith: Does It?

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According to a recent British survey of more than 1,000 adults which was tagged on MSNBC last week, 60 percent of people who read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code believe that Jesus fathered children by everyone’s most beloved harlot, Mary Magdalene, as opposed to 30 percent who had not read the book, and that four times as many readers of the book believe Opus Dei is a murderous sect than do non-readers.

The story, as most rigorously researched articles by most esteemed journalistic chroniclers often are, is graced with a Chicken Little headline: “Da Vinci undermines faith, survey claims.”

For starters, a survey can’t claim anything. Secondly, it was commissioned by a “prominent collection of English Roman Catholic monks, theologians, nuns and members of Opus Dei,” putting the validity of the methodology of the surveyors in some question.

Third, and most serious, there is NOTHING in the story on MSNBC that says any of these people had any Catholic faith to undermine in the first place, or that even die-hard Catholics’ faith is shaken. (Are there still Catholics in England? I thought Henry VIII beheaded all of them back in the day, or are my facts, as usual, dimmed by mind-numbing quantities of alcohol this morning?)

What the numbers do say is that people who read the book are, based on this test sample, more willing to believe that Christ fathered children and that one gnarly Catholic sect kills people. Reading between the lines, the survey illustrates a common logical fallacy. In the Latin, I thnk, it’s post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this).

To wit: “All critically discerning, intelligent people can read,” DOES NOT mean “all readers are critically discerning, intelligent people.”

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  • Steve

    What would be useful in a survey is a list of the Christian doctrines, with folks saying whether they believed any or all of them before the movie or not and whether those changed after the movie.

    I would think anyone who would say yes couldn’t have done their homework on where Dan Brown’s ideas came from in the first place. An investigative piece on the Discovery Channel by a British journalist a few months back made me realise just how flimsy some of Brown’s claims are. Better to take the Da Vinci Code as fiction, if you want to take it at all.

  • Yeah, actually, there are Catholics in England, since after the Reformation even. I’d go into a long narrative of the history of the English reformation, but I’m late for happy hour at the pub.

  • JP

    Anyone who’d previously read Holy Blood may have been more likely than others to read DaVinci.. I don’t think the relationship is causal.

  • Haven’t read it; don’t have any faith to undermine. It may well undermine faith, and so what if it does? People have a right to have their faith undermined if they want to.
    Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist undermined my faith, but I had an idea it would going in. In fact, I put it back on the bookshelf for a couple of years while I was still trying to talk myself into Christianity. I couldn’t handle the truth.

  • Joey

    Or Albert Pike.

  • zingzing

    or that some people will believe anything they read (like the da vinci code… or the bible…)

  • Heckler

    the original poster states; “everyone’s most beloved harlot, Mary Magdalene,”

    Which goes to show the ignorance of some people when it comes to scriptural history.

    The assumption that Mary Magdelene was a “harlot” is due to a mistake made by a monk who assumed the unnamed “harlot” who washed Jesus’ feet was Mary. Scholars have since shown this to be erroneus.

    To me, quite a bit of this controversy stems from the conflict between blind faith in authority figures, and rational thinking about the matters at hand.

  • Only if your faith is weak.