Sometimes they are polite requests, but they smell fishy.
My dad is a christian who says he would be willing to read a book on evolution that includes a comprehensive list of dig sites and photos of transitional forms. Can you recommend something?
I replied. I was not kind.
He’s lying to you.
Lying, lying, lying.
He’s setting you up with preconditions so he can reject it outright. “Comprehensive list of dig sites” makes no sense at all: there are paleontological digs of fossils all over the world, in just about every state of the country. What does he want, a map of the planet?
There can be no photos of living transitional forms; the term doesn’t make sense except in the context of a phylogenetic series, which means by definition that the ‘transitional forms’ you’re looking for are extinct species.
His demands make no sense at all, except that they allow him to accommodate creationist lies and ignore the evidence. Most of that evidence for evolution is molecular and genetic; fossils only provide a partial window into our history, while most of the linkages between species are demonstrated by molecular homologies.
I’d just tell him that you’re ashamed that he’s setting such a poor example for his children. Honesty should matter more.
Sometimes, I can delude myself a bit: it’s just the leaders of creationist organizations who are dishonest, sleazy frauds; the majority are just misinformed and ignorant. And then I see stuff like that (and it comes up often) and I realize…no, the true believers are dedicated to their ignorance and actively work to maintain it.
This guy is lying to his own son. Either that or he’s a colossal idiot in all ways, which would be a whole ‘nother kind of depressing, but I’m assuming he knows that no one was standing around with a camera in the late Devonian, so sending him a photo of Tiktaalik is out of the question.
No, it’s clear what his game is: predefine the whole issue out of existence. If he were sent a photo of the Tiktaalik fossil, he’d declare it just an old fish, because he doesn’t know the anatomy. Send him a reconstructed image, he’d reject it as a fake, not a photograph at all. He has assembled a battery of rationalizations to reject every piece of evidence shown to him, rationalizations that don’t even make sense, and he doesn’t care.
These are the emails that make me cynical: the testimony to a whole world of stupid people with blinkered minds who don’t give a damn about the facts.