Philosophy, Metaphysics, Theology, and Science All Summed Up with the Black Cat Analogy

The Black Cat Analogy of Philosophy, Metaphysics, Theology, and Science
(With a HT and thanks to Spreading Science.)

Philosophy is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.
Metaphysics is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.
Theology is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there and shouting, “I’ve found it!”
Science is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat using a flashlight.

The Black Cat Analogy of Philosophy, Metaphysics, Theology, and Science


15 Responses

  1. . . . to continue with the analogy re: theology:

    “And there are lots of theologians in the room (because it is a very large room), and every theologian in the room finds a DIFFERENT black cat, and every theologian then declares that God has made clear that THIS black cat is the ONLY black cat in the room.”

  2. This is a a good point. With theologians, the black cats are often all very different. In fact, some theologians might even claim that there are actually three cats, but that they’re actually one cat.


  3. BC:

    yup re: the Trinity, whose doctrinal support in the text of the NT doesn’t, uhhhhh … exist.

    I was raised as a Catholic, and to believe that 3 was 1, etc., and that to try to understand it was folly, since it was a mystery. … I remember reading Eldridge Cleaver’s SOUL ON ICE (whether he actually wrote it is unclear, since he was numbingly inarticulate in public discussion), saying that he received religious instruction from a Catholic priest while he (EC, that is) was in prison, and that when the priest asked if anyone in the little prison group getting the instruction could explain the Trinity, EC was about to try but the priest said that NO ONE could explain it since it was a mystery . . . EC then said in the book that he decided right then that he couldn’t become a Catholic if he was expected to believe something on that basis, esp. since he was about to offer to his prison group an explanation of the Trinity based upon an analogy to 3-in-1 Oil.

  4. @cd.dedalus: 1st, the word trinity is not in the bible, 2. you are making categorical mistake (if you really believe in supernatural being, otherwise your statement is irrelevant), 3. mystery exists everywhere even in science (and also maths), e.g. something can be both open and closed (topology), 1 can be 2 or 3 or … (group representation theory), and don’t forget about ‘duality’ in quantum physics (it is both ‘either or’ and ‘both and’, no one knows …). Actually I don’t care whether you believe in god or not, but I’m tired of people making too presumptuous claims … either pseudoscientists or atheists or theists …

  5. Yeah, um…no. Not even clever.

  6. Well, I don’t care if you believe in God(s) or not, either, pookie.

    The word “trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible and neither does the term “Original Sin”. … BTW, my comment was clearly intended to be humorous, but apparently you failed to understand; oh, well.

    The Bible is folklore, not history.

    So sorry you are “tired” of people making presumptuous claims; perhaps a nap would help ? At least you’d be less tired, later.

  7. @CD.Dedalus No, the word “trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Neither does the word “transubstantiation.” Or the word “Pope.” However mentions of the trinity do begin to pop up in the Holy Fathers as early as the late 2nd century, ie Tertullian.

    For properly catechized Roman Catholics this is not an issue. For Catholics Scripture & Holy Tradition are co-equal sources of doctrine. This is logical because Jesus didn’t leave a book (eg the KJV), but an institution, ie the Church. Yes, the trinity is a mystery but it was also hashed out very thoroughly in the councils. I am not Catholic, rather an E. Orthodox catechumen, but this testing of doctrine on the basis of “it ain’t in da bible” only makes sense in a sola/prima scriptura context.

  8. Re: the trinity . . . .

    Your argument is that because “learned theologians” somehow “hashed it out” then … it doesn’t matter that there is no scriptural basis for the supposed doctrine of the trinity, and that somehow the trinity has a firm basis and truly represents the nature of the Christian Version of “God”.

    “Hashing out” = “inventing” … BTW; just so you know.

    Okay … that’s your position. It isn’t mine.

    Please note that you and just disagree on this. Ditto re: the silly doctrine of Original Sin I expect, but who knows ?

    Take care.

  9. If you’ll allow me to analogously poop on the analogy party, I have formulated a possible re-wording which is prboably entirely wrong;

    Philosophy is like trying to understand what a vat is, and how its colour and existence might relate to the darkened (or partially lit by other modes of inquiry) room, given a set of linguistic structures as tools for common communication

    Metaphysics, is like trying to conceive of or describe whether or not there might be something outside of the darkened (or partially lit by other modes of inquiry) room

    Theology, is like trying to describe a cat, which might exist outside, or inside the darkened (or partially lit by other modes of inquiry) room, and to understand what kinds of relationships to the room might exist vis-à-vis the cat

    Science, is the mode of inquiry that uses a torch to partially light the room, and then is like trying to determine the conditions within that room which govern any cat which is shown to be within the room.

  10. ‘Trinity’ appears in the treatises of so-called Holy Fathers solely because Jesus was deified post mortem. His contemporaries regarded Jesus as a man. Even in Gospels it is said that Jesus had brothers (of course, the Church claims that ‘brother’ here means ‘cousin’ or maybe ‘stepbrother’). Generally, it is paradoxical to call a married woman having children a virgin. So Trinity, theology, works of ‘Holy Fathers’ is indeed like being in a dark room and claiming to have found what does not exist and has never existed either.

  11. Masonry is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there and shouting, the cat is a symbol, I have discovered it’s meaning

  12. Jesus said, I am the LIGHT!

  13. So did Helios and Ra.

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