Spoiler Alert: If you plan to read Inferno by Dan Brown, please read it before you read this post. One piece of advice: As you read this book, check out the places Robert Langdon visits on Google Maps. You’ll feel like you’re there!
The latest book I’ve read is Inferno by Dan Brown. I chose it because I like the fast pace and intricate plots Dan develops in his books. This one did not involve the Vatican as several earlier books did. The Vatican, with its religious symbology provided Dan with a wealth of historical intrigue. I wondered what he was going to choose next, and what better for symbology this time than Dante’s Inferno? Once again Professor of Art History, Robert Langdon, is on the run, this time through the art museums and basilicas of Florence and Venice,. And, as always, accompanied by an intelligent and attractive younger woman. The plot twists in this book are amazing and had me guessing right to the end.
The central question this book deals with, though, is a perplexing moral dilemma some scientists and mathematicians believe we , the human race, will face in the not too distant future and that is overpopulation. The population is growing exponentially and will soon outgrow the planet’s ability to sustain it. Without space flight to other habitable planets, à la Star Trek, this will lead to mass starvation, widespread illness, and even cause nature itself to make an adjustment, perhaps in the form of plague or pandemic. So Robert Langdon is asked the question, “If you knew this to be a certainty, would you take steps to avoid this crisis if it involved sterilizing about a third of the population, randomly, to slow the growth without the fear and pain of a plague or pandemic? In other words, should we genetically engineer ourselves?
To me the important word here is certainty. There is little in life that is certain. In fact, life has a way of unfolding more in the realm of uncertainty. To quote John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” We really can’t predict the future. Who’s to say the mathematics or science used to form these theories are derived from irrefutable fact? People once believed the Earth was the center of the universe, that the Earth was flat or that the atom could not be split. Even today, we are far from having all the answers. The topics of science – dark matter, dark energy, the theory of everything, the strange world of quantum physics, all of this is subject to change as we learn more about the universe. We are not ready yet to handle decisions of such magnitude. We must tread carefully.
With near certainty, then, I can say we still have more questions than we have answers, and that is good because it gets us thinking.
Dan Brown’s Inferno, certainly does that. ***** Recommended.