Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

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In the novel, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, the author examines the limited value of science and analyzes to what extent science is viewed as a religion. Vonnegut views science as a violent from of religion, whose followers unconditionally devote themselves despite the violence and anarchy that comes along with it. The main goal for advances in science is to improve humanity no matter the consequences. The followers of science hide behind the “shameless lie” in order to fulfill their ambitions.

Science is remarked as a form of religion in which the followers will go to any lengths to further advance humanity.

Vonnegut often contradicts science and religion in Cat’s Cradle. He describes science as a system of fact, while he describes religion as a figure of composed deception. Despite this negative representation of religion, Vonnegut’s most grave criticisms are reserved for science and its goal of search and discovering things. Vonnegut invades the belief that truth is naturally preferable and good, considering it as a pervading belief in our culture.

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He depicts a naturalistic world in which truth is necessary for important and personal gain without care for the permanent consequences those truths will have on humankind. Vogennut writes, ‘man is vile, and man makes nothing worth making, knows nothing worth knowing'(116). Felix Hoenikker’s discovery, ice-nine, was produced to address the military’s necessity. For a way to get through mud quick while moving in the field. Ice-nine, which completely freezes any liquid with which it comes in contact, could be regarded as a powerful succession for science and a substantial asset to the U.

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S. Hoenikker also realized the exceedingly deadly quality of his invention, which could be utilized as a weapon to wipe out a nation’s water supply and ensure its consequential death. Thus, he came to the fact that he created something for science that was a risk to humankind.

The face of science in Cat’s Cradle is Felix Hoenikker as he is the one who started it all and did not learn from his mistakes in time. “‘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). Felix and Frank Hoenikker’s experiences as scientist seem to disclose that scientific knowledge does not supply full answers to problems, although many people expect that it can. Science is often take advantage of to produce human problems, and scientists alike the Hoenikkers ordinarily do little to stop this result because they are too troubled with discovering things to weigh the consequences of their discoveries. Felix Hoenikker, understanding the seriousness of his revelation, hid ice-nine from the research association for which he worked. Unfortunately, he did not have the good sense to actualize that the remaining ice nine he left for his kids to find would in the end lead the Earth to the fate that he was trying to escape, solely because his children could not resist the influence that his discovery would give them. His truth led to their deaths and eventually to the demise of everyone on the planet.

An overriding subject of the novel is that technological improvement could lead to the downfall of the human race because of science’s frequent disinterest in humanity’s survival. Vonnegut attempts to show that humans’ temptation to control life, death, and nature has led to advances like the atomic bomb and other modern ways of cause of death in trade for power. Scientists such as Felix Hoenikker are one of Vonnegut’s concerns because they seem to not care about anyone else. Felix Hoenikker ‘played puddly games with pots and pans and ice-nine’ (166). Because Felix is portrayed as somewhat childish, there is the assumption that others would be more accountable for his moral transgressions than he was.

Indeed, since he was a man who could become distracted by almost any toy or trick, much of the blame for his creation of deadly weapons lay on the support of the politicians and government officials who filled his laboratory with materials for building weapons. The control science has over him influences his judgement and he does not comprehend the extremity of his actions. Dr. Breed explains that science’s fundamental goal is to find ‘new knowledge’ so that ‘we have more truth to work with’ (36). This truth that scientists search is the aim of life, the consciousness of which will ‘improve’ humanity as a whole. But Vonnegut believes this pursuit for truth is really a deception, as scientists instead use their knowledge for the intention of advancing their beloved religion alone.

Vonnegut presents religion as more valuable and less risky than science, despite its paradoxes and shortcomings. In the novel, religion is useful not because it communicates some truth about the world, but rather because it gives followers detailed lies in which to trust. Bokonon’s lies confirm more freeing than the Hoenikkers’ truths, because his lies have the means for making men feel larger about their lack of purpose and devoid existence. The division between religion and science is summed up by the opposite worlds of Ilium and San Lorenzo.

The first is the setting where scientists create in a moral vacuum, while the other is a society thoroughly entrenched in the lies of a crazy man whose only aim in life is give them hope. Bokonon writes that “people should just be happy for the memories that they will convey with them when they return to the mud, because crying over one’s fate is just as senseless as laughing about it.” Each is the work of a separate intellectual system, but they are double states of being as they each provide a facade with which one can obscure a horrible life. Both help as examples to Jonah that improving the human circumstances is useless. In the end, neither Ilium’s science nor San Lorenzo’s religion could sincerely spare any of Vonnegut’s characters from their miserable existences. The world had no genuine regard for their happiness.

In Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut demonstrates the overwhelming belief in anything will unavoidably consequence in tragedy. Vonnegut demonstrates this using precise topics such as Science and Religion. In the present day, society relies on Science highly; it give jobs, provides technology competent of saving lives, and promotes our society in many positive ways. However, society often disregards the negative sides of Science. Vonnegut recognizes many problems with the general perspective on Science.

Cite this page

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. (2022, Jan 13). Retrieved from

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