Science Versus Religion In Cat’s Cradle

1803 words - 7 pages

“The idea that philosophy and science can be combined to give us the best possible knowledge about the world and how to act within it is an old one, encapsulated by the classic concept of scientia, a Latin word that means knowledge” (Pigliucci 6). In the book Cat’s Cradle the main topic of debate is clearly science versus religion. In many ways, these two topics are very different, but in others, they are quite similar. Both science and religion have a common goal, to find truth in the world. The main character of Cat’s Cradle is a man named John. At the beginning of the book, John is a Christian who is doing research on Felix Hoenikker, the maker of the atomic bomb. His attempt to learn about the science behind the bomb leads him to a religion called Bokononism. In this book, Bokononism is not like other religions. It is more of a mindset that attempts to explain the world and why unexplainable things happen. John’s gradual transition from Christianity, a religion that focuses on getting into heaven, to Bokononism, a mindset that strives to explain the world and gain knowledge about it, is a perfect example of how religion or science by itself does not supply knowledge. Scientists and religions experts try to explain the world through different ways. Scientists try to explain life with true facts, and religious people believe that a supernatural force who assigns purpose to everyones lives. Even though they are different, both groups try to explain the world and give purpose to their lives.

Religion is an important topic that is discussed frequently throughout Cat’s Cradle. The whole point of Vonnegut writing this book is to compare science with religion. In this book, there is a religion called Bokononism, which is a religion made up by a man, and based off of lies. “All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies… Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either” (Vonnegut 5). This quote explains that religion doesn’t always have to be based off truth, as long as it teaches a valuable message. In Bokononism, the countless lies can still teach the reader a valuable lesson about life. The creator of this religion is a man named Lionel Boyd Johnson, but better known as Bokonon. Bokonon creates this religion so that people gain knowledge by thinking for themselves. “‘Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.’ Bokonon tells us. ‘He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.’”(Vonnegut 281). Bokonon warns that anyone who is handed knowledge, but refuses to accept it is not a good influence to someone searching for knowledge. Bokononism is not like most religions we see in today’s society. Instead of asking the reader to believe based off of blind faith, it encourages the reader to think deeply and gain all the knowledge they can.


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