Re: [CSHF]: CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT - Groundhog Day!
- Here's another interesting testimonial. Some may notice the same sort of problem that I have repeatedly run in to when trying to negotiate appropriate details for productive exchanges:
Literal Genesis Trial: Creationist Gimmicks Versus
the Optimism of Education
By Michael Zimmerman, Ph.D.
Founder, The Clergy Letter Project
What makes this charade so frustrating is that the Literal
Genesis Trial is nothing more than a recycling of Mastropaolo's previous foray into publicity-hunting, anti-intellectual
The Literal Genesis Trial used to be called The Life Science
Prize and Mastropaolo regularly tried to bait evolutionary
scientists into engaging in a similar contest.
Almost a decade ago, on Valentine's Day of 2004, I was invited
Rather than proving that science contradicts the literal interpretation of the Bible, the Life Science Prize challenge
focused on the nature of science and creationism.
Here's how the challenge was framed back then:
> "If the evolutionist proves evolution is scienceI engaged with Mastropaolo for about two months attempting
> and creation is religion, he wins the $20 000.
> If the creation scientist proves that creation
> is science and evolution is religion, then the
> creationist collects the $20 000."
to come to an agreement on terms for the contest.
Rather than making any progress, I was berated, abused and
had complaints filed with the person I reported to at the
university at which I worked at the time.
Let me share just a couple of examples.
When I proposed that we agree on definitions of evolution
and creationism as a starting point, things went awry pretty
In response to my suggestion that we use the classic textbook definition for evolution (a change in allele frequencies in a population over time), Mastropaolo's second argued that "change
in allele frequency is about as meaningless a definition of
evolution as can be offered."
Mastropaolo himself countered with the following:
> "evolution is the development of an organism fromMy Ph.D. in evolutionary biology didn't help me make any sense
> its chemicals to its primitive state to its present
out of that definition. Mastropaolo went further and said that
> "may not be competent to contendHe very much liked the phrase "competent to contend for the
> for the Life Science Prize."
Life Science Prize, also warning me that
> "Evolutionist hallucinators so out of touchSo Joseph Mastropaolo is back generating publicity, promoting ignorance and spewing misinformation.
> with reality are psychotic by medical dictionary
> definition, and therefore not mentally
> competent to contend for the Life Science Prize."
I can't tell you how incredibly depressing it is to see a
reputable media outlet like The Guardian take him seriously.
Nothing of significance has changed over the last nine years
in Mastropaolo's rhetoric or in his understanding of science.
And as the thousands of clergy members who have joined The
Clergy Letter Project to promote both religion and evolution
have shown, Mastropaolo's theology is also far from the
But the press likes gimmicks and rewards them with coverage.
As depressing as all of this is, two things about this story
ease my concern. First, I really do believe in the power of
education and I am confident that most people reading about Mastropaolo's latest stunt will see it for what it is.
Second, I was unable to stop laughing when I found The Guardian
story reported on a USA Today webpage. At the bottom of that
page was a link to another story by the same "reporter."
That story's headline was "another state is calling for
Punxsutawney Phil's head."
Groundhog Day indeed!
The universe obviously has a sense of humor.