Psst! Want to make an easy $10,000? There’s a creationist out there, Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo, to anyone who can disprove a literal interpretation of Genesis, using science, in front of a judge. He’s calling it the Literal Genesis Trial. According to the challenge, a bailiff, court reporter and judge will be in attendance and all “evidence must be scientific, that is, objective, valid, reliable, and calibrated.” Mastropaolo says “they [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.” And, of course, anyone who wants a shot at his money has to pony up $10k of his own.
Interesting, isn’t it, that Mastropaolo doesn’t have to defend his view that a literal Genesis is true, using the rules of his own mini-trial. At least the judge has to be someone agreed upon by both sides, he can’t just throw his own anti-science judge on the bench who will reject all comers. Of course, if I were to go for the challenge, we’d never be able to agree upon a judge because I would never allow a theist on the bench and would insist on someone who had a history of hearing and understanding scientifically complex cases and insisting on using the scientific method. He would never allow that.
There are actually quite a few different tactics that occurred to me right off the bat to win the money. I’m sure there are many more, this was just my first impression.
- Courtroom trials require the ability to call witnesses by their very nature. Now I’m not suggesting that we call in a lot of scientists to testify against Genesis, it’s much easier than that. While we know that the individual who wrote Genesis, whoever it was, is long since dead, but what about God? Mastropaolo believes that God exists. Call God to the stand. When God doesn’t show up, ask for a bench warrant to be issued on God. Now yes, I know you have to issue a subpoena first and God doesn’t exactly have a known address. However, I’d argue that if God is all-knowing, as Mastropaolo undoubtedly claims, then God should have known. The defense has only one possible expert witness that can be called, if they can’t even produce that, the case is dead.
- There are two creation accounts in Genesis and they directly contradict each other. Point this out. Explain that it is impossible to reconcile the two accounts using just what is in the Bible. You can’t just invent elements out of whole cloth to make two stories agree. As a literal account, the Bible fails. Collect your money.
- Put Mastropaolo on the stand, ask him how old a literal reading of Genesis says the Earth is. While Genesis doesn’t specifically say how old the Earth is, if he gives the old 4004 BC date, that’s simple to disprove. Then ask how long the “creation” took. If he tries for the old day-age nonsense, then it takes a knowledge of ancient Hebrew to disprove him, since the words used in Genesis can only be used to refer to literal 24-hour days. Again, once that is established, we only need to look at geology and radiometric dating to prove Mastropaolo wrong.
- As I said above, Mastropaolo supposedly doesn’t have to defend a literal reading of the Bible using only science. Don’t let him get away with it. A position that has yet to be proven doesn’t have to be disproven. What is essentially being asked here is for the prosecution (you) to prove a crime that cannot be demonstrated to have happened in the first place, against a wholly unknown criminal.
- He does say to defend Genesis, not just the creation story. The Flood is in Genesis. That’s easy to rip apart. In fact, I did a whole presentation on the problems with the Flood myth over on The Bitchspot Report podcast just a few weeks ago. The Flood is laughably easy to disprove.
- Finally, as I touched on before, if he insists on a literal reading of the Bible, he can only rely on the words on the page, he can’t make stuff up to fill in the gaps and explain “what they really meant”. That really blows away the majority of modern apologetics. Further, since he insists on limiting this to Genesis, don’t let him bring in passages from other places in the Bible to justify his imaginary additions. Read the words printed on the page and nothing else.
So what other methods do you have to blow away this challenge? We all know it’s rigged in his favor, but given an honest challenge, where both sides were responsible for the same scientific rigor, this might actually be fun to participate in.