In Search of Truth and the DaVinci Code 

The principle object of science is discovery of truth about our universe.  The principle object of archaeology is discovery of truth about our past history.  Scientific exploration is made necessary by the lack of knowledge of all of the laws of physics and chemistry.  Archaeological exploration is made necessary by the lack of a validated history of ancient civilizations.  We are all basically seekers of truth, and we are thrilled by every new revelation of historical discoveries about our past, whether they come from the ancient scrolls discovered in earthen jars near the Dead Sea, or some new archaeological excavation. 

Part of the intrigue of scientific or archaeological discovery is the solving of a mystery.  We all love a great mystery story, providing that the investigation leads to some previously obscured answer.  The scientific method involves observation of some physical phenomenon, for which the cause is unknown.  Scientists postulate a theory for the cause, and then devise a series of experiments to try to prove or disprove their assumptions.  The theory or assumptions are tested against all of the previously known and accepted laws relevant to the physical sciences. When the theory is accepted, it is then considered a law of science, until proven otherwise.  It is a trial and error process, which sometimes takes years to achieve a significant discovery of the true cause of the phenomenon.  When applied to archaeology, the process is similar, except that there is no way to perform experiments to prove or disprove the assumptions or theories.  With archaeological discovery, the archeologists compares each observation of artifacts with a set of previously known or accepted theories and uses logic and reasoning to interpret the findings.  He has to consider his assumptions in relation to all of the other accepted theories and observations in the vicinity of the artifact’s location to see it his assumptions fit into the same puzzle with all of the a priori accepted theories.  When the assumptions become accepted, it is said that the mystery is solved, and we now have new knowledge about some previous civilization.  However, there is no way to positively validate the theory, which is based on previous theories, which may also be incorrect.  Often, deductive reasoning, similar to detective work, is required to solve the mystery. 

This quest for truth about our past explains the universal popularity of Dan Brown’s best selling novel, The Da Vince Code.  Dan Brown does a masterful job of mingling fact with fiction to create a thrilling mystery adventure, woven around facts and legends of the Crusaders, the Knights Templar, the Priory of Sion (a secretive society that may have actually existed), and the Catholic Church of the Holy Roman Empire.  Dan Brown does not try to defend the theories woven into this exciting mystery story as truth, and states that is simply fiction, mingled with truthful facts.   

The job of sorting out fact from fiction in the Da Vinci Code has spawned a proliferation of rebuttals on the internet and a large number of books and TV documentaries.  But Dan Brown’s novel is admittedly fiction.  It makes no sense to even try to sort out truth from fiction in a fictional novel.  However, the facts in the The Da Vince Code are primarily based on a documentary book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, which examines histories and legends regarding the life of Jesus Christ, the possibility that he was married to Mary Magdalene, and had a daughter by Mary who fled to France after his supposed demise (not resurrection).  This book explores legends of French Merovingian Kings who are supposedly from the bloodline of Jesus through this daughter, and who had remarkable healing powers. Although this book is NOT billed as fiction, the conclusions that the authors draw, based on the facts that they meticulously document, are circumstantial opinions of the authors, and are not authenticated by any facts. These authors do not claim their conclusions to be true, but only that they could possibly be true.  Their premise is that the Crusaders who captured Jerusalem in 1096 AD set up housekeeping in the Jerusalem temple, where they discovered a treasure buried in a vault beneath the Temple. The remainder of this documentary, and Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, is wrapped around the mysterious nature of this treasure and the quest to find it.  The Knights Templar (or Knights of the Temple) were historical figures who formed a monastic order of the Catholic Church for the purported purpose of defending travelers following the trails leading to Jerusalem against robbers and cut-throats, thus they were called the Warrior Knights. 

The Knights Templar expanded to a powerful organization whose wealth came from the requirement of its members, who came from some of the best families of society, to donate all of their possessions to the order.  Some believe that their wealth came from the treasures found buried beneath the Temple.  The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail postulate that documents found by the Templars buried in a vault beneath the Temple contained information which undermined the teachings of the Catholic Church, and that this monastic order used this information to manipulate the Church to grant it extraordinary power and status, threatening to reveal their secrets at any time.  According to history, the Templars did not believe in the divinity of Jesus or his resurrection, but they were a monastic order of the Catholic Church, which gave them protection and autonomy.  The facts are that in 1139 Pope Innocent II issued a Papal Bull that the Knight’s Templar would owe allegiance to no secular or ecclesiastical authority other than the Pope.  In those days, rulers of nations, were subjects to the Pope.  With this blanket autonomy, the Templars expanded across the nations of the Holy Roman Empire and became the international bankers, using their vast wealth.  According to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Prince Phillip IV of France began in 1305 to plot the elimination of the Templars and the defeat of their powerful military and financial control.  His plot resulted in the kidnapping and death of Pope Bonifice VIII to whom the Templars owed allegiance, and “quite possibly the murder by poison of another (Benedict XI).  Then in 1305, Phillip managed to secure the election of his own candidate, the Archbishop of Bordeaux, to the vacant Papal Throne.”  On Friday October 13, 1307, Phillip engineered the surprise arrest and slaughter of the Knights Templar members throughout Europe, which officially ended this monastic order.  This is the origin of the superstition of bad luck on Friday, the 13th. 

The Priory of Sion, according to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, was a highly secretive order within the Knights Templar, and which continued to function after the destruction of the Templar order, who were supposedly guardians of these secret documents, and whose Grand Masters supposedly included such famous historical figures as Leanardo Da Vinci, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, and Victor Hugo.  This conclusion was based on Dossiers secrets, or “secret documents” found in the Archives of Paris.  The Secret Documents were placed there by Pierre Plantard, who claimed to be of the blood line of the Merovingian Kings of France, and claimed the right to the throne of France.  Many years after the publication of  Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Plantard admitted that he had placed the Dossiers secrets in the Paris archives and that they were his own creation, dispelling the myth that Leanardo Da Vinci, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, and Victor Hugo were Grand Masters of the mysterious Priori of Sion, and creating some doubt that the Priori of Sion actually ever existed. 

The title, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, is taken from a clever “Play on Words” by rearrangement of letters in the words  “Sang Raal,”  Holy Grail, to “San Greal,” Royal Blood.  From this perspective the authors conclude that the search for the Holy Grail is not the search for the lost cup or chalice from which Christ drank at the last supper, or which is purported to have held his blood after the crucifixion, but actually the search for the royal bloodline of Jesus through his daughter born to Mary Magdalene.  

At the conclusion of The Da Vince Code, the reader is left hanging, wondering what was really contained in the mysterious documents that the Knight’s Templar and the Priory of Sion were trying to protect, and why and when the mysterious documents would be revealed.  The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, who are clearly not Christians, conclude that Jesus was not divine, that he probably did not die on the cross, but recovered from the crucifixion, and died later at Massada, that Mary Magdalene was his wife and fled with her child to France, where the descendents of Jesus had miraculous healing powers (even though they concluded that he was not divine).   The primary secret was presumably evidence of literal descendents of Jesus, whose blood line extended to the Merovingian Kings of France in the middle ages.   

However, what credible evidence could have been buried beneath the Temple in Jerusalem, which, when discovered over 1000 years after the life of Jesus, would make any logical thinker believe that they proved anything. Remember that the Christians and the Jews were both driven from Jerusalem by 68 AD, when the Romans tore down the walls of the Temple and massacred the Jews who escaped to Massada. The Jews had been accused of the crucifixion of the Son of God, and according to the Bible, they disputed the resurrection by saying that the disciples of Jesus stole his body to falsely proclaim his resurrection.  Who would believe that any documents discovered beneath this Temple, 1000 years later could have any credibility or validity.  It is impossible to prove or disprove the virgin birth, divinity, or resurrection of Jesus, and no documents, wherever they may be found, can offer such proof.  Certainly the genealogy of the descendents of Jesus through a daughter born to Mary Magdalene would not have been buried beneath the Jerusalem Temple, which was in the hands of the Muslims prior to the Crusades, but was purportedly assembled and protected by the Priory of Sion.  There is no way to validate any such genealogy, which could have easily have been forged at any time during this mysterious history of these secret organizations (and apparently was forged by Pierre Plantard himself). 

The historical facts behind such secretive organizations as the Knights Templar, the Priory of Sion, and the Freemasons, who are believed to have evolved from the Knights Templar, are sufficient to stimulate intense interest in unraveling of these mysteries, and the documented facts in  Holy Blood, Holy Grail certainly beg additional investigation, but the assumptions and conclusions of the authors of this book read more like a Sherlock Holmes mystery novel than a scientific discovery of truth based on those facts.  So we are still left with intense desire to continue to search for truth.   

But is the scientific method, or the detective method of subjective analysis of observable evidence, the only means of learning truth?  Judeo Christian teachings from the Bible show that for centuries, men have believed they received truth by revelation from God through the Holy Spirit.  In the Old Testament, Prophets of God received visions and revelations from God, and they, in turn, taught the people, who were taught to live by faith in God and these revelations.  In the New Testament, Jesus taught the common people that after his resurrection, he would send the Holy Ghost, through whom they could know the truth of all things.  The Bible teaches that in order to receive truth from the Holy Ghost, the individual must have faith in God.  If there is a God who reveals truth to men and women on the earth based upon their faith in him, then Scientists, who reject the existence of God, cannot possibly receive revealed truth, for they fail to meet the requirement of faith before revelation.  Therefore, such a scientist has rejected a method of discovery used by millions throughout the ages. 

A sincere seeker of truth will use all available methods of discovery.  The histories of the ancient Mesoamericans reveal a belief in a Great White God who once visited their ancestors, near the time of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, and promised some day to return.  Many books have been written about the legends of Christ in America. 

A modern Prophet, Joseph Smith, proclaimed that he had been visited in a vision by Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and was called to restore His Church to the earth after the long period of apostasy in the dark ages.  Sincere seekers of truth will investigate such claims, and if they use both logical and spiritual methods of investigation, they can come to a knowledge of the truth.