Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The JoMo Creationist Challenge, Take 4

It seems I can’t get away from this amusing little story. Thanks to one of my readers for reminding me that JoMo and Karl Priest’s challenge was featured about a year ago in an article by Richard Dawkins about why he doesn’t bother to debate with creationists. He even reprints the e-mail he was sent, which was of course identical to the one that all of the others have been sent. Though I’m not exactly a fan of Dawkins, I did find his article quite amusing. Since it was sent by Karl Priest “on behalf of Dr. Joseph Mastrapaolo, Dawkins muses,

Who, I wondered, was “Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo”? Evidently a personage so grand that somebody else writes his letters for him. Or was Priest/Mastropaolo a Jekyll and Hyde figure, named Mastropaolo but with a fantasy of becoming a priest?

Dawkins suggested to them that since the challenge was going to based upon scientific evidence perhaps it would be better to have it judged by scientists rather than by a judge. He was, predictably, accused of trying to rig the results in his favor and that if this is the best he can do he could “count himself in default” on the challenge. Naturally, this leads to the accusation that he is an “intellectual coward” who has “defaulted out of fear”, and the story becomes identical to the one told by anyone else who has ever dealt with these Caped Crusaders of Creationism:

Priest/Mastropaolo won’t let it drop, and he goes on challenging me, with increasing belligerence, to accept or “default”…

On my side the correspondence is terminated, although Priest/Mastropaolo went on bombarding me weekly with increasingly raucous accusations of cowardice. He reminds me of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who continued, as a stump-waving, blood-spouting torso, to shout “Running away, eh? … Come back here and take what’s coming to you. I’ll bite your legs off!” at the indifferent back of the opponent who had successively deprived him of all four limbs.