The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Cats can be taught spiritual truths

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/11/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 633 times Debate No: 63071
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I believe cats are naturally spiritual truths, and it is wrong to keep our religious life "cat-free." We should share our beliefs with our cats, even if it appears they are not interested or have better things to do.

Here is my position:

1. Cats can understand spiritual concepts like forgiveness, meditation, veganism and Christian metalcore.
2. Cats, though unable to speak in complete sentences, have a highly developed sense of hearing and can understand mutliple languages, like Tagalog and even Dutch.
3. If cats were more spiritually developed, they would be easier to manage, be more well-behaved and perhaps even shed less!
3, pt. 2. Most religions teach that we reincarnate back into animals, and even if they do not teach that, then they still teach that animals will be in heaven. And how can an animal get to heaven if it doesn't learn spiritual truths? They do all the things we do except work for a living.

If positions 1-3 are accurate, then we have a sound basis for teaching our cat the ways of the soul. But even if one of them is true, my position is still correct. The opponent must prove that all three are total garbage to defeat me, and they must do it without ad hominems attacks against me, my character, or the crimes of my ancestors against just about everybody.

I look forwarded to a spirited debate where we can all learn and enjoy life to the fullest extent of the law.


I curiously accept this debate.

Still I have to correct my opponent in a few points:
As he hasn't provided any definition for "spiritual truth" nor logically outlined how only one of his Positions actually proves that cats are these "spiritual truths". Therefore major parts of this whole concept are already flawed here. With the lack of any proper logical connection of any of these three positions to the actual resolution - not one of the given arguments logically holds so far. Not to start on the BOP for affirmative assumptions such as this is.

As my opponent has also, surely accidental forgotten to provide scientific evidence, I'll keep my rebuttal short and mostly evidence-free, assuming that the first round was probably meant as a presentation of key ideas.

1. Cats are unable to understand higher concepts such as religion or spirituality, as they even lack simple signs of higher intelligence such as the ability to make and use tools to their benefit.

2. The mere ability to hear doesn't equal the ability to understand and process the information in complex and reflective ways. Assuming that conditioned behaviour to a very simple sound-structure is the same as understanding complex language and sentence structures is purely affirmative and also logically insufficient.

3-1 If cats were naturally spiritual truths than they cannot be more spiritually developed. If you are already perfect you can't be more perfect. Therefore cats can a) not spiritually develop further and b) change their behaviour and fur shedding without creating a paradox with the resolution.
In the logic of an indirect prove: if Position 3-1 is correct the resolution can't be logically true or if the resolution is true, Position 3-1 can't be true. As Pro assumes that 3-1 is prove for his resolution, he assumes that 3-1 is true, therefore proving that his resolution cannot be true.

3-2 a. "Most religions teach that we reincarnate" is an assumption - most major religions do NOT believe in reincarnation such as most forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and even some forms of Buddhism don't believe in it {1}
b. Nor do most of them clearly teach that animals will be brought to heaven (it's often a question of interpretation {2} )
c. Cats do not at all do all the things "we" (humans?) do. Just to give a few examples, cats do not:
- create art
- create tools
- have pets
- cook or combine their food to make it more delicious
- have strong family bonds that hold over many generations

Having shown that all three basic assumptions of 3-2 are either wrong, most likely wrong or seriously wrong; I may also say that even IF animals WOULD certainly go to heaven than we still don't have the the knowledge whether this will happen only if they are/become/learn spiritual truths. Because frankly Cats would require free will, which, from for instance Christian views has only been given to humans (Genesis).

{1} Parts A to D

With all my love for cats and their entertainingly limited intelligence this whole resolution is flawed from one end to the other without evidence or definitions of keywords.
Pro may or may not invent more creative (and unsourced) positions about cat-abilities; they will not become truths or proof for anything just because Pro claims so. Still I did enjoy to think about why the given positions are not only useless from the technical side of debating but also logically.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you, Con, for joining this debate. This is fun!

I'll clarify my terms (I feel it would be a disservice to cats to not have fuzzy definitions and propositions in regard fuzzy creatures, but I will try and be as accurate as possible for here on in):

Spiritual truth: A religious belief that is held to be true by one faith or many faiths OR a living demonstration of a characteristically religious virtue (as in, Buddha says, "Whoever sees the dharma (religion) sees me" and Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (I am not claiming, however, that they are limited to this definition). Note also that I do not specify what religion, and my argument is based simply on the fact that one or more religions must advocate this virtue. If, for example, sitting perfectly still and content to stare off into space is a Buddhist virtue, then if a cat exhibits this virtue, the cat is demonstrating a spiritual truth and, therefore, is a spiritual truth insofar as its attributes are, to a degree, hypostatic with its essence.

I don't really know what I was trying to type when I initially typed "cats are naturally spiritual truths". I think I left out a word or added one. Whatever. I'll run with it!

My claim, stated in a more specific fashion in light of the above definition, is as follows:

1. Cats are spiritual truths in that they demonstrate characteristically religious virtues
2. Cats can understand languages and learn spiritual truths through linguistic instructions
3. If cats were even more spiritual (that is, if they have even more spiritual attributes or more consistently implemented them) then they would be easier to manage
4. It is unlikely for a cat to get to heaven or favorably reincarnate if it doesn't make some spiritual changes in its life before it dies

Proof: "something that induces certainty or establishes validity" (Webster). By "certainty", I hope we can agree on a "certainty" that is "beyond reasonable doubt". If not, I'll try and argue for ontologically necessary certainty.

As proof that cats are spiritual truths, cat-ownership and having a religious belief both have been shown to have similar physiological benefits:


Quoting one section of the latter: "In a randomized, longitudinal study, the influence of meditation/relaxation techniques on the incidence of cardiovascular disease (participants were judged as being at high risk for it if they had two or three of the following risk factors: smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol) was investigated (Patel et al., 1985). Results showed that at eight weeks, eight months and four years afterwards, the participants that followed the meditation/relaxation techniques program had a significantly lower blood pressure."

This is comparable to pet ownership in some details. And all religions justify themselves on the basis of achieving some benefit in both this life, and the next.

As to language understanding, "Cats can understand about 25 to 35 words."

You may argue that they would need to understand syntax, grammar, etc. to understand the significance of these words in a spiritual/religious context, and this may be true of your religion, but it is not true of a religion like Zen Buddhism. For example, during Koan study, the Zen student must use a single word "MU" or "No" (which cat's can understand) to the exclusion of all other thought, eventually penetrating into the truth signified in the word. A rudimentary word --- common to all human languages and known also by feline sub-humans --- is used to penetrate into direct, intuitive realization of spiritual truth. If a cat can understand "No", it can understand Zen Buddhism, thus at least one form of spirituality qualifies under my definitions.

Emotions and states of mind can be communicated through tone of voice, along with posture, facial expressions, etc. --- especially to our furred brethren below, who are more acutely aware of such things. And a person who speaks lovingly and spiritually to their cat necessarily forms a bond with that cat, and inspires kindness, loyalty and peace in that cat, ensuring that this cat --- which once may have been a feral beast, terrorizing the entire neighborhood --- will live more peacefully and augment its inherently spiritual dispositions. Also, I think linguistically we can argue that bodily gestures can form a kind of make-shift syntax provided that the cat at least comprehends certain key words.

Now, to rebut some of your rebuttle:

1: Cat perfection

"If cats were naturally spiritual truths than they cannot be more spiritually developed. If you are already perfect you can't be more perfect."

"Natural" is not synomyous with "perfect", nor did I mention perfect in my initial statement. Not relevant.

2: Cat tools

Cat's cannot "create art, create tools, have pets, cook, have multi-generational families"

I will concede this except for the issue of tools, if by "create" we can agree this to mean "utilize an existing material substance independent of the physical body as a means of attaining a desired goal". See the first youtube clip I posted for conclusive evidence.

I'm not entirely certain of the rest and it's been hard enough trying to justify my outrageous claims without getting into "cat art." Jeez.

3: Cat reincarnation

Con writes, "most major religions do NOT believe in reincarnation". I didn't say "major" religions. In this I am including every wacked out New Age cult California ever spat out (most of whom believe someone in their ranks was Cleopatra). Not relevant.

4: Do all cats go to heaven?

Con writes that most religions don't teach about animals in heaven. Since reincarnation religions DO believe in heavens most of the time, and that animals pop up there on occasion, they qualify for believing cats can go to heaven. I am not sure what Islam teaches but I know that Bible says "the cat will lay down with the lamb" (Isaiah 11:6). True, not all denominations view this chapter and verse as descriptive of a future, heavenly state, but some do, and when we add these numerically to the thousands upon thousands of different sects of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Kabbalistic Judaism, and all the weirdo-California groups, then, statistically speaking, more people are inclined to cats having a heavenly abode.

However, cats can sin, if we interpret sin to "miss the mark"

See second youtube clip for evidence of cat missing the mark.

Buddhists would call this bad karma. Anyway, if we can agree that many, if not most, faiths agree that sin is the primary barrier to heaven, and if cats can demonstrably sin according to the Hebrew definition (upon which our common English word "sin" rests), then the sins of cats can prevent them from going into heaven (potentially).

This was exhausting. I hope I covered everything.


Round 2 | Arguments and Rebuttal | by Eav | 14.10.2014

Thanks to my opponent as well, it’s nice to be back. I’d consider the definition given as rather self-invented than fact-based but as the debate was rather unclear about this point from the beginning, I had it coming and therefore I accept the definition as provided.


0. Video Rebuttal

YouTube videos, especially those under five minutes, don’t show proper context to a certain situation. Nor are they provided by instances that have a claim on providing correct material. A situation can either be manipulated in context, by conditioning an animal to behave in a certain way to a certain trigger (which would not reflect self-developed skills or learning process) or by manipulating the video digitally.

And the actual worth as evidence also partly relies on interpretation. Taking the video, that supposedly proofs that Cats intelligently use tools: The door is unlocked and the doormat does not actually help opening it. The strength to push it open comes from the cat and under no circumstance would have required the mat. Therefore we don’t have a situation in which a tool is needed for achieving the best possible outcome or to solve the problem at all. Therefore the video cannot even proof what it is trying to, because the base-situation is not suitable. It’s also, or especially because the doormat is unnecessary, not clear for what reason the cat is pulling on the mat. As cat-owners might recall, do cats sometimes unintentionally get stuck with their claws, which usually presents itself as a little panic-attack in which they destroy pullovers, curtains and pillow sheets. Similar could have happened here, where the cat playfully reaches out for the doormat and gets stuck, pulling the mat to her/him just because for the moment given, they can’t let go. It’s not clear, because, again it’s a YouTube problem, the angle here is not appropriate and not conclusive.

1. Cats demonstrate characteristically religious virtues

Pro argues that Cats show naturally behaviour that is similar to behaviour we purposely develop to become more spiritual, e.g. sitting still (for meditation). Thinking about the goals of meditation, the overall goal of the “highest level of consciousness” seems subjectively not unrealistic to achieve for an animal that used to get its food solely by hunting.
But looking deeper into it, we can either conclude that the very nature of this “highest level of consciousness” is defined or created by wisdom, liberation and enlightenment {1}

Especially liberation and enlightenment are not achievable for animals such as cats, as they lack free will. In Genesis 2:16, God commands only [hu]man not eat from the forbidden tree, because only [hu]man can choose so. It also means that in terms of the bible cats can’t sin, because that is for Christianity to act against Gods laws. Would Cats be able to sin, they would have been required to get a warning to not eat from the tree’s fruits as well.

From a non-Christian perspective wisdom and enlightenment both require an understanding of complex topics that can only be expressed by complex language. Therefore see the following point 2.

Such as mentally disabled people are physically capable of speaking they often can’t produce understandable language due to a lack of self-control and own language understanding. A Cat’s physical ability to sit still does not equal the ability to fulfil the mental part of meditation and therefore a Cat’s ability to perform the physical part of a spiritual virtue is no evidence of any sort, that the cat is able to fulfil the mental part of the spiritual virtue.

2. Cats can learn languages and spiritual truths

Cats can learn a few words. But these are trigger words. A cat can hear the sound structure of “Come” and, even if it chooses not to do so, learn that it means: Go to the speaker and get a treat. Connecting a word with one outcome is conditioning your animal. It means a Cat can learn the word, but it can’t understand it.

“A tested generalised insight is an understanding; it is a meaning or discernment that one may profitably apply to several or even many similar, but not necessarily identical, situations or processes” {2}

The example word from the Zen Buddhism is one word. But it’s connected to a complex set of emotions and while a cat may recall and remember the sound structure, it’s not able to grasp the complex meaning, because that would require independent thinking and connecting.

3. Cats would be easier to manage, were they more spiritual: see Counter-Rebuttal 1.

4. Cats can sin, therefore need to become more spiritual

“Missing the mark” is not a wrong definition for sin. But "mark", is a word that has to be seen in context. In terms of sin it means not to miss a physical mark like a dot on wall, but to “miss the guideline mark” provided by god. Just as “to wander from the path” is not literally but figuratively meant.

See also the mentioned Genesis 2:16 (Genesis is also noted in Pro's sources, what makes my interpretation based on it's consideration more likely) why cats can’t sin.

And on a note to video 2: Even IF “missing the mark” would be meant literally, the video would not be evidence because the cat has beenn unknowingly tricked into it, by a human exploiting its natural hunting instincts. Therefore it’s the human who sinned, not the cat.

5. Cats are spiritual truths because they provide similar psychological benefits as religion

This again is logically flawed because it assumes that things with the same outcome are the same. That both concepts trigger the reward system and have positive effects on the overall health is not a conclusive evidence. In this logic, tea, could be a spiritual truth {3}.


1. Cat perfection: Logical flaw holds

“truth” is an absolute concept. One thing can either be truth or false, it’s never something in between. Math-Logic (e.g boolean algebra) solely relies on this fact. My use of the word “perfect” referred to the absolute nature of a “spiritual truth”.

Therefore: if cats are spiritual truths (what Pro aims to show) than they can’t become more spiritual OR if cats can change their shedding and manageability and become more spiritual they cannot be spiritual truths.

2. Cat tools: see Rebuttal 0.

3. Cat reincarnation: major sourcing problem

Pro claims to include all the religions there are. As according to just Wikipedia there are way over 4,000 religions and Pro has not provided any stats that what he claims about these 4,000 is true.
Humanly possible is to survey the major religions, outlined in my last round. And for them, Pro’s claim is still false.

4. Cats in heaven: One-Sided-Interpretation

As said before, many parts of religious texts are very up for interpretation on animals in heaven. Just as the given example doesn’t explicitly say that these are the spirits of animals on earth. Or that it is a literally meant part. This part easily be one of the many metaphors for actual people.
Pro again interprets religios and spiritual material solely literal which is incorrect because one-sided. Jesus for example uses parables quite often {4} to explain a real life problem with animals, crops or conceptional situations with other humans.


Well, that was me so far. I'd agree with Pro, it was challenging for me as well.
Debate Round No. 2


Concession speech:

I think the Con won the debate on every issue except one. The youtube clips were countered fairly, accurately, and consistently, and the discussion of the capacity of the feline mind to understand spiritual concepts was thought-provoking, to say the least. I think that the analysis of Zen practice was a bit too swift, but I concede that discussing the essentially non-conceptual nature of Zen practice through concepts is a difficult task, and it would take more than a debate to give it the handling it deserves.

Having said that, I cannot agree with the Con's definitions of truth and the absolute, and how it relates to a spiritual truth. The notion that something cannot grow may, perhaps, be looked upon as a benefit and a virtue. It doesn't need to grow, because it's already ideal. Yet underlying this type of definition is an assumption that a state of motionless, inertia, and inactivity is somehow preferable to constant motion and development. Looking at the brief fragment of the cosmos that we have access to, it seems that motion, change, evolution and involution are constants, and that stasis only applies to the bare principles which form the cosmos. Yet, to quote a Hindu Upanishad, "out of the perfect, only the perfect arises" --- and this, if true, would mean that the productions which arise from static laws are as perfect as their genesis, even as they continue. Could there be a kind of absolute ideal in the process of change itself? It seems that our human ideals of perfection are related to our normal, biological paradigm of desire and satiation. We want something, which we associate with change and strife, and once we get it, the mind is "pacified", like a lake that has been stilled. In contrast, the workings of nature seem to be satisfied with change itself --- that is, content with never being content to stay in place. From such a perspective, flux is ideal, and its opposite is not. Constant growth and change is ideal.

So, in a nutshell, I think the Con's idea of an absolute truth is too static. If we can conceive, for instance, of an absolute cat --- perhaps a Scottish fold --- who is perfect in everyway, does this necessarily mean that the cat cannot expand, evolve, change, and interact? The idea of a static absolute is behind many systems of mysticism, but it is not the only idea. The Madhyamika sect of Mahayana Buddhism, for instance, conceives of the non-conceptual nature of ever-changing phenomena to be the absolute perspective, yet such a perspective neither nullifies nor stands in opposition to the phenomena themselves.

I can conceive of a slightly overweight, gray Scottish fold centered in the heart of the cosmos to be an "expanding absolute". It is not infinite, but it is in the process of achieving infinity --- a process which may never actually be attained, but the perfection is found in the process itself, rather than an ideal state.

The Con writes, "One thing can either be truth or false, it"s never something in between. Math-Logic (e.g boolean algebra) solely relies on this fact." This may be the language of math, but is it the language of experience? Even my analysis here is not definitive, but I do think it warrants further inquiry.

Perhaps I have misunderstood the Con here (it's been known to happen before), but I really wanted to paint an image of an ever-expanding Scottish fold somewhere in the center of the cosmos. I saw an opportunity and I ran with it. What can I say? I'm American.

Thank you, Con, for a fun debate.


Round 3 | Final Rebuttal | by Eav | 18.10.2014

Final Rebuttal

0: Concept of absolute truth

Pro makes a few wrong connections here. He still relies on the thinking that his base assumptions are actually true, such as that cats are or can be perfect or true. This is not a concept I proposed. I just explained how it can’t be true, by showing that if it were true it would create a conflict with reality.
Cats can change. Within their biological limits. They can get older, they can get sick and they can learn tricks. What they can’t is break the limits of their breed and species.
Side-Note on the shedding: If shedding would actually relate to spirituality, are non-shedding-breeds more spiritual than strongly-shedding ones?
Anyway the assumption that anything is perfect, ideal or spiritually true is something that Pro introduced. Changing the definition of truth, perfection and ideals to suit the outcome is just another way to bend the facts to support a certain outcome.

However is it right to say, that we perceive these three concepts sometimes differently but they are always absolutes. Other than right and wrong, where we occasionally see a grey zone, we don’t have that for the given three. Two people might differ whether something is true or not, but they either think it is or is not. That makes it in both cases an absolute concept. And a thing might be perfect only in some aspects but for these specific aspects perfection is an absolute concept.
That constant growth and change are ideal, as Pro figures from the Hindu quote, is for him absolute. It is perfect. Not a grey area. That he again looked on a quote rather swiftly an literally and overlooked interpretations that are also possible and can totally change the resolution we gain from it doesn’t change that for him the concept of ideal still is a very static concept.
Just as the quote could mean that perfection only creates perfection, meaning that it spreads and shares it but doesn’t change its own perfection. The possibilities here are endless. It’s just a matter of what interpretation you favour most or the acceptance that if we can’t figure out which interpretation has the better claim, we have to accept that the quote cannot be considered relevant. A source that is not conclusive cannot be the base for a decision that would require a definite answer on that matter.

Pro also picked a very interesting claim about the believes of an exotic sub-sect of Buddhism without having the courtesy of providing any reference that would clarifies if that sect even exists. To take this up rationally are there too many sub-sub-sub-sects of sub-sects of a major religion that don’t cover the same ground on the same matters (already the Hindu and the Mahayana Buddhism quote don’t agree on the same matter of change and perfection) to consider all of them relevant. Picking one that suits your argument over hundreds that possibly don’t (just as the Jesus-quote from Pro in Round 2: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”) is a very selective approach and nothing to do with proper research.

Math is not unrealistic. It’s basically the heart and soul of science because it’s the study of truth. It’s not science, it is what science needs most: a concept of how to determine what is true and what not.
That’s why the truth concepts of mathematics are universal and apply for this debate as well as for any other matter of reality. That we sometimes are unable to figure out what is true or not is not due to a flaw in mathematical truth concept but to a lack of information or understanding.

Finally, as there is good reason to believe that Scottish folds can’t be found living outside the, for mammals necessary, earthly atmosphere it’s highly unlikely that one will be found in the very center of the cosmos.

Final Statement

After a debate of many, many claims about religions and sects I have never heard of and which I don’t consider common knowledge, after quotes that Pro mostly has shown to interpret one-sided and literal rather than in the broad context of metaphors and parables that are often found in spiritual texts, after videos that mostly turned out to be not helpful and only slightly amusing (though that’s a personal opinion), I’d say that Con has not given one proper scientific explanation for his claims but solely relied on assumptions drawn from very selectively chosen parts of certain believes. Which means that from my point of view I’d consider Pro’s claims as not valid.

To be fair, I do lack a bit of humor in this point. What can I say? I'm European.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by mightbenihilism 3 years ago
Well hopefully everyone who takes the time to read it all will learn a few things and appreciate cats a little bit more than before.

Check out my "Bigfoot is Biblical" debate, too. I really hope that one goes somewhere. :(
Posted by Feroste 3 years ago
I saw the title and thought what... the.... hell... I was not disappointed.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: pro concedes.