One creationist plans to put his money where his Bible is for a "Literal Genesis Trial," a $20,000 contest of his creation. The winner must prove or discredit a literal interpretation of the biblical book of Genesis, the Guardian reports.
Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo, who holds a PhD in kinesiology and who taught biomechanics and physiology at California State University, Long Beach, for 26 years, is one of a few scientists who endorses creationism; but he's part of the 46 percent of Americans who, according to a 2012 Gallup poll, believe that humanity was created as Genesis describes.
Mastropaolo intends to argue for the creationists, and proposes that each side put $10,000 on the line, winner take all. But it's possible that Mastropaolo won't find a counterpart. In a Huffington Post blog published Wednesday, Dr. Michael Zimmerman, founder of the Clergy Letter Project and an evolutionary biologist by training, mocked the trial, saying Mastropaolo actively hunts publicity and peddles "anti-intellectual demagoguery."
An earlier version of Mastropaolo’s concept had intrigued Zimmerman. As Yahoo! News reported, Mastropaolo was behind a similar previous effort, the "Life Science Prize," which also challenged evolutionists to a minitrial. Zimmerman said that his attempts to engage Mastropaolo resulted in the latter suggesting he was "psychotic."
Mastropaolo told the Guardian that he doesn't intend the debate to stir up trouble but to point a way forward for anyone with questions.
"We can read the transcript and not have to go through the same process over and over and over again without any let-up, without any resolution," he told the paper.
According to the Christian Post, an advertisement featured on the Creation Science Hall of Fame's website, an organization that publishes Mastropaolo's articles and plans to help with the project, called on evolution supporters, saying, "This is your chance to shine. Are you willing to participate in a contest to prove your point that the Bible is wrong and that we evolved?"
The debate's judge would be a superior court judge, a less common arbiter of a minitrial, which is usually a private, alternative conflict resolution procedure most often used by businesses and the federal government to resolve issues without the costs of a typical trial. Most often, minitrials are judged by a panel of arbiters appointed by each side. And while minitrials aren't usually recorded, this one will be.
The Literal Genesis Trial would legally bind the participating parties with regard to the prize, but would have no effect on the discussion in the five states where creationism bills have been passed.
Oklahoma's Common Education Committee passed a bill in late February that would "permit teachers, schools and students to explore alternative theories [to evolution] without repercussions."
The National Center for Science Education notes that Montana, Arizona, Missouri and Indiana are considering similar legislation. Earlier, Colorado indefinitely suspended an "academic freedom bill" in committee, a move that effectively killed it.