Dan Brown, author of Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, has said that he no longer believes in the Christian faith, but still wonders about God, and doesn't yet call himself an atheist.
Brown, who is promoting his latest book, Origin, said in an interview with BBC World News, portions of which were posted on Monday, that he personally believes that "the laws of physics are enough to create life."
When asked whether that means "there is no God," the author replied: "I didn't say that. I said that the laws of physics are enough to create life. I will not presume to say 'there is no God.'"
When getting into the specifics of what he believes, however, he said: "I no longer believe in the God of my childhood — that some deity sent his son down to be crucified for my sins."
He continued: "If I lay down under a scarlet sky, I feel like there is something that is a lot bigger than us. I don't know what it is, I don't have a word of it."
Brown added that "it's very hard for me to take that step into atheism. I certainly am moving in that direction, but for me it's still hard to say 'there's nothing.'"
NPR noted in a separate interview that Origin pits creationism against science, with Brown exploring artificial intelligence for the first time in his work as well.
The author insisted that he is not "anti-religious," despite what a lot of people think.
"I'm actually quite the opposite. I am not an atheist — I think I'm happily confused and a work in progress; I'm sort of more agnostic. I do think that science has become the lens through which we see the world, more and more," he said.
"It used to be that the recent earthquakes in Mexico would be seen as punishment by an angry god, and now even the most religious among us would see that as a geologic event, we wouldn't see it as a religious event."
Brown noted that the characters in his books often argue two points of view, and he has featured religious people and scientists.
"I don't think anyone who reads this book will think that I have a soft spot for Creationism," he said about Origin.
"I personally believe that it's shocking in the year 2017 that we can have American congressmen who openly proclaim the Earth is 6,000 years old and that the fossil record was put there to test our faith," he added.
"And because it's a religious idea, not only are we not allowed to question or ridicule it, we are debating whether or not to teach it in our schools. And that's upsetting to me. I really feel that religion does itself no favors by declaring itself immune to rational scrutiny."
Brown told the Frankfurt Book Fair earlier in October that he believes humanity no longer needs God, and artificial intelligence might fill the role of religion one day.
"Are we naive today to believe that the gods of the present will survive and be here in a hundred years?" Brown asked at a news conference.
He added that Origin was inspired by the question "will God survive science?"