Angels and Demons

Vittoria was watching him. “Do you believe in God, Mr. Langdon?”

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 image a God who would rule that way.”

“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?”

Vittoria paused, brushing a lock of hair from her eyes. “Religion is like language or dress. We gravitate toward the practices with which we were raised. In the end, though, we are all proclaiming the same thing. That life has meaning. That we are grateful for the power that created us.

Langdon was intrigued. “So you’re saying that whether you are a Christian or a Muslim simply depends on where you were born?”

“Isn’t it obvious? Look at the diffusion of religion around the globe.”

“So faith is random?”

“Hardly. Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some of us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end we are all just searching for truth, that which is greater than ourselves.”

… “Do you believe in God?”

Vittoria was silent for a long time. “Science tells me God must exist. My mind tells me that I will never understand God. And my heart tells me that I am not meant to.

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