The aura was electric as masses pushed and shoved, eagerly waiting to get inside. Security urged people to back away. It was not the atmosphere of a rock concert but the arrival of world famous novelist Dan Brown at the Sharjah International Book Fair. The American author is known to be a literary luminary with the success of his bestselling books The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. His presence was definitely a highlight at the fair for many had flown in from other countries especially to Sharjah just to hear the influential writer speak in presence of His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.
Brown started off by talking about how honored he felt be in the UAE and how deeply moved he was with Arab hospitality. When his Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi asked Brown if he would be interested to attend the book fair next year, Brown responded with great interest and enthusiasm.
Brown is widely criticized for his seemingly hostile views on Catholicism and many falsely presume that he has a vendetta against the notion of Abrahamic religions. He dispelled this myth by talking a great deal on spirituality. Surprisingly, he was raised in a very strong Christian household. His mother was a choir singer, actively involved in her church and a woman of unwavering faith.
In a sharp contrast to this, his father was very logical with a great fascination in science so his approach was very analytical in comparison. As a result, Brown felt like he had the best of both worlds. His parents always stressed on the importance of religion and yet they encouraged him to ask questions and to always keep an open mind and never follow faith blindly.
He reminisced about his vibrant childhood and told comical anecdotes about his parents and even brought in their customised driving license plates to reiterate how very different his parents’ personalities are. Brown spoke candidly about how he initially struggled to grasp the spiritual ideals instilled by his mother which seemed natural to most but to him, it felt almost unattainable, contradictory and stifling. In spite of this, he always instinctively knew there was something bigger than just molecules and the Big Bang. It was a grey area and he found that exploring this area was a coming of age experience.
Science and religion have battled throughout the ages and this is nothing. Whilst science gives answers, religion prompts the questions. Brown concluded that Science and Religion have something important in common to focus on which is that they are both attempting to reach an ultimate truth. There is great beauty in this pursuit and this quest for truth is what connects us as human beings. He stressed on the notion of truth being entirely subjective. One person’s might not relate to another’s but that even though we all greatly differ in our perceptions and religions, we are all united as having experiences on earth whatever label that might be referred to.