Imagine with me, as one of the atheists on the atheist/theist Facebook group did some months ago, that someone claims to own a cat. But a friend or relative or neighbor looks at that person with surprise.
“You own a cat? I’ve never seen a cat in your house,” he says.
“Oh, yes, I own a beautiful white Persian cat.
The friend frowns. “But I’ve never seen any cat hair—on your furniture, your clothes, my clothes. Surely, if you had a cat, there’d be evidence of your cat.”
“Well, I don’t know what evidence you want. I can show you the bag of cat food I bought last week. I can show you the special vacuum attachment I use to groom my cat.”
“No, no,” the friend says. “I need proof. Show me your cat.”
“He’s at the vet right now, sorry.”
“I can show you pictures.”
“Easy to get those from Wikimedia or someplace.”
“You can talk to my brother. He’s seem my cat. He’s played with him and petted him. Talk to my kids. They’ve cleaned the litter box.”
The friend shakes his head. “Seriously? Your brother? He’d say whatever you tell him to say. And the kids! Poor things are probably brainwashed.”
“Well, you know Mrs. Frank in the house behind ours. She’s seen our cat in the backyard. She’ll tell you.”
“Come on. Her eyesight is going. She probably saw an albino squirrel. We’ve had lots of squirrels this year. More than usual. She was probably imagining one of the squirrels was a cat. Or maybe she saw a small dog. That’s more probable.”
“But our yard is fenced.”
“Dogs can dig under the fence.”
You sigh. “Can’t you just take my word for it?”
“Why should I? You can settle this once for all if you just show me your cat.”
“But I’ve told you, I can’t. He’s not here.”
The friend runs his hand over his face, muffling his answer. “Because he doesn’t exist.”
“Hey, I’ve got it. We bought him at a downtown pet store. I can show you the receipt and the registration papers and the pedigree.”
“Sure, sure. How do I know it’s not all forged? How do I know it’s for the specific cat you say you own?”
“I don’t say I own him; I do own him. I trained him from a kitty. When he was barely two months old, he used to meow and screech when he was hungry. I trained him to lie in a little toy crib, like a baby and gave him milk to drink from a baby bottle.”
The friend pivots away. “OK, now you’re just being ridiculous.”
“No, listen. He’s a special cat. He doesn’t ignore me like other cats do their owners. And he’s really smart. When I ask him who his best friend is, he puts a paw on the same scratch toy every time.”
“The more you tell me about your so-called cat, the harder it is for me to believe. You’re making this all up, right?”
“No, honestly, I’m not. Can’t you just take my word for it? I really do have a cat.”
“Anybody can say anything about anything. Just because you want to spin your yarn, doesn’t mean I have to believe it.”
“But I have the evidence: other eyewitnesses, the paperwork, the pictures, his grooming attachment, the bag of cat food, his litter box. For goodness sake, who would have a litter box in their house if they didn’t have a cat?”
“A crazy person, apparently. Like the one I’m talking to.” He stomps from the house.
The moral of the story: those who don’t want to believe, aren’t going to believe.