California scientist Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo is putting his money where his mouth is.
Dr. Mastropaolo is certain that the Biblical creation narrative found in Genesis can be defended in the face of evolutionary science. In fact, he’s so sure of this that he’s willing to bet $10,000 on it.
Mastropaolo is a Young Earth Creationist - a branch of conservative Evangelical Christians who believe the six-day creation account of Genesis is a literal historical narrative. Most Young Earth Creationists believe the earth is 6,000 to 10,000 years old, and they reject modern scientific notions regarding the age of the earth and the history of life on earth.
Mastropaolo has named his $10,000 wager the “Literal Genesis Trial.” For the trial, Mastropaolo sent out an open challenge to any evolutionary scientist who believes he or she can empirically disprove the Genesis creation account. To raise the stakes, Mastropaolo is asking the challenger to wager $10,000 of his or her own money as well in a winner-takes-all scenario.
The “minitrial,” to be held in California, would be complete with a bailiff, a judge and a court reporter.
Mastropaolo, who has issued challenges like this in the past, is sure that he will be keeping his money.
"[Evolutionists] 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," he said.
The Creation Hall of Fame is collaborating with Mastropaolo for the trial. According to the trial rules laid out on Creation Hall of Fame’s website, only evidence that is “scientific, that is, objective, valid, reliable, and calibrated” will be accepted at the trial.
Although not directly involved in the trial, the high-profile Young Earth Creationist organization Answers in Genesis is supportive of Mastropaolo’s efforts. The organization said they are “…supportive of attempts by people to expose the bankruptcy of molecules-to-man evolution."
An Answers in Genesis spokesperson added that both creation and evolution are outside of the realm of observable science, and as such any data related to the matter is subject to interpretation.
“The creation vs. evolution question involves ‘historical science,’ which is used to interpret the evidence we see today. The evidence does not speak for itself; in fact, it is subject to interpretive bias,” they said.
Many in the scientific community are dismissing Mastropaolo’s wager as nothing more than a publicity stunt. Mastropaolo issued a similar challenge in 2004 called The Life Science Prize.
Despite criticism, Mastropaolo is standing by his trial. He hopes that presenting both sides of the debate in a legal and scientific way, future debates on the issue will be improved.
“The evolutionists thereafter could read that transcript and make their case a bit stronger on the next one they contend against and we can do the same," he said.
Although the overwhelming majority of scientists reject Creationist theories, a recent Gallup poll revealed that 46% of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative. Legislation that would allow students in public schools to be taught religious theories on the creation of life are being considered in four states.
If any scientist takes Mastropaolo up on his challenge, the minitrial would be held in a Santa Ana, California courthouse.