Angels and Demons is built around a number of paired/opposed forces that wind through the novel as they do human society and human history.

Science Versus Faith
The clash between science and faith is everywhere in Angels and Demons. It is symbolized through the opposing organizations of the Illuminati (who claim to speak for free thought and science) and the Catholic Church (which bulwarks two millennia of dedication to the Christian faith). That this clash can be a war is spelled out by both sides, though Leonardo Vetra and his daughter show readers that it is possible for these two methods of seeking the truth to find peaceful accord within a single heart. However, the camerlengo’s impassioned “surrender” to science in the war shows how uncommon and unlikely such a resolution is. The camerlengo articulates the case for pure faith, in large part because he can see the hand of God in his life. By contrast, Maximilian Kohler’s life was ruined by a misinformed faith, and so he burns with an anticlerical fire.

Passionate Dedication Versus Obsession
Leonardo Vetra, whose murder begins Langdon’s involvement with the novel’s complex mysteries, is a fine example of the ideal of passionate dedication, as is his counterpart, the assassinated pope. Each man pursued truth and supported his chosen organization with his whole heart. Both touched others with their evident devotion, which was intense, but not so single-minded that it excluded the human. Both of these busy men found time in their lives to embrace their children, children who joined their families voluntarily. By contrast, Maximilian Kohler, the camerlengo, and the assassin all embody the dark side of dedication, which is obsession. Each is willing to allow suffering, and even to create suffering and bloody death, in order to pursue his goals.

Public Versus Private
The control and...

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