Dr Joseph Mastropaolo, who says he has set up the contest, the Literal Genesis Trial, in the hope of improving the quality of arguments between creationists and evolutionists, has pledged to put $10,000 of his own money into an escrow account before the debate. His competitor would be expected to do the same. The winner would take the $20,000 balance.

The argument would not be made in a formal court, but under an alternative dispute resolution model known as a minitrial. Mastropaolo said he would present the argument in favor of a literal interpretation of the creation story once he had found a willing scientist to argue that a non-literal interpretation of Genesis is more scientific.

"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," Mastropaolo said.

A minitrial differs from a regular trial because it does not need to be held in a courthouse and does not require the presence of traditional court figures. Mastropaolo plans to have a bailiff and court reporter in attendance, along with the judge. Contest rules state that evidence must be scientific, which means it is "objective, valid, reliable and calibrated".

Mastropaolo believes that evolution cannot be proved scientifically. "It turns out that there is nothing in the universe [that] is evolving, everything is devolving, everything is going in the opposite direction," he said.