Creationist scientist Joseph Mastropaolo has thrown down the gauntlet to anyone wishing to argue against him in a courtroom that science disproves the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis.
The California-based Mastropaolo, who taught biomechanics and physiology at California State University for 26 years, has set up the ‘Literal Genesis Trial, a contest that aims to improve the quality of the debate between evolutionists and creationists. As an extra-incentive for die-hard evolutionists out there, he has offered $10,000 of his own money that he will place in an escrow account before the debate. The catch for his any potential adversary is that they too would have to put forward $10,000. The winner would take all $20,000.
(MORE: Can Your Child Be Too Religious?)
Mastropaolo told TIME in an email that there is “considerable interest” in the trial, which is to be held in Santa Ana, California.
Speaking with the Guardian, Mastropaolo explained that he will need firstly to select a scientist to argue that a non-literal interpretation of Genesis is more scientific: “They are not stupid people, they are bright, but they are bright enough to know there is no scientific evidence they can give in a minitrial.”
The minitrial format is a recognized form of alternate dispute resolution, used as a cheaper means of settling an argument rather than going to court. However, like many legal proceedings, the costs can run into the thousands. According to the rules published on the Creation Science of Hall of Fame website, the prevailing party would bear the costs. Other rules include the demand that the “evidence must be scientific, that is, objective, valid, reliable and calibrated.”
Some are openly skeptical about Mastrapaolo’s contest. Michael Zimmerman, founder of the Clergy Letter Project aimed at teaching evolution in public schools, writes in the Huffington Post that the competition is just a gimmick. Describing Mastropaolo’s approach as a “foray into publicity-hunting, anti-intellectual demagoguery,” Zimmerman explains that he previously attempted to debate with the scientists but was disallowed after several disagreements.
MORE: The Evolution Wars