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Lawsuit Claims NASA Specialist Was Fired Over Intelligent Design Belief

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the in-the-beginning dept.

NASA 743

New submitter period3 writes "The latest mission of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is defending itself in a workplace lawsuit filed by a former computer specialist. The man claims he was demoted and then let go for promoting his views on intelligent design, the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone."

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743 comments

Man whose job relies on the scientific method... (4, Insightful)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327809)

... is demoted for rejecting the whole basis, or showing that he has a severely flawed understanding?

Who would have thought.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327993)

Hopefully NASA relies more on physics and mathematics than it does on evolution.

However, he wasn't fired for his flawed understanding of evolution - he was fired for being disruptive in the workplace. He would, hopefully, have been fired if he had been ranting on about how great natural selection was and passing around DVDs of pro-Darwin materials.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327995)

Insightful? Dude was a computer scientist, not a xenobiologist. Should they fire the rest of us for every tin foil consiracy theory we believe? ID is no less rational than aliens at Wright Pat, but neither should be fireable offenses.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (5, Insightful)

PIBM (588930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328159)

If you are actively promoting your belief at the job, and preventing other from working on their hours, yes, you should definitely be reprimanded and possibly let go. Whichever belief it is.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (4, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328177)

Insightful? Dude was a computer scientist, not a xenobiologist

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Dude was fired for being an idiot, not for his beliefs on biology.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (-1, Flamebait)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328267)

Firing him for believing in ridiculous fairy tales is not good, but there's simply no way to keep the guy's colleagues from not taking him seriously, which would be the same as firing him. If so we might as well entertain the idea of retaining people who aren't cut out for the job by law, I hopoe we don't go Britain's route and start legislating in some of their more rediculous libel laws.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328019)

... is demoted for rejecting the whole basis, or showing that he has a severely flawed understanding?

Who would have thought.

Intelligent design answers more the 'why' than the 'how' that Evolution does. It's entirely possible to believe both at the same time, in fact.

I don't believe Intelligent Design, but calling people who do 'stupid' or saying they 'reject the scientific method' is juvenile, and really serves the exact opposite of convincing the 'other side' that they're wrong...

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328231)

You cannot convince someone who has faith that they are wrong. This is because the nature of the expected proof is problematic: faith is a personal experience, whereas scientific proof is build on repeated experiments illuminated by predictive models.

The only reason the proponents of ID are mocked and belittled is to edify the onlookers. Because, although you cannot show faith is wrong, the risk of ridicule is a potent counterpoison.

Also, it is in fact only possible to believe that both ID and evolution are simultaneously true is you do not understand evolution. Or presumably ID.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328307)

The only reason the proponents of ID are mocked and belittled is to edify the onlookers

And *MY* point is that by mocking and belittling, all you're proving to the onlookers is that your side are a bunch of dicks.

Remain calm, civil, and courteous. To do otherwise is to sabotage your own goals.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (5, Insightful)

pitje (1083069) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328261)

bull. shit.

ID is nothing more than a rephrasing of 'God is real' without actually saying that.
It's wishfullfillment, nothing more.

Any of which shouldn't get you fired btw. Imposing your (misguided) beliefs upon others in your workspace is.

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (5, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328277)

Intelligent design answers more the 'why' than the 'how' that Evolution does.

This is a bit like saying Religion is more about how you conduct yourself than about judging other people or justifying wars. Sure, theoretically that could be true, but it's not actually true. ID proponents in practice focus more on casting FUD against science than they do working scientific findings into a belief system.

Put another way, it's fine to say "Evolution is the how, my religion is they why" but that's not what they're doing. What they're actually doing is saying "Science is wrong because my holy book says so!" Religious people who don't reject science, whose understanding of evolutionary theory doesn't contradict their beliefs about higher powers, they don't call themselves "intelligent design."

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (0, Flamebait)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328037)

So let me get this straight...

An entity receiving government funds decided that someone who didn't share their core beliefs shouldn't work there anymore?

How is this different than Catholic Hospitals receiving government money and then deciding based on their beliefs how to run their business?

Personally neither should be done but this guy was pushing his beliefs onto his co-workers including giving people DVDs. And the project was significantly downsizing due to it being 'finished' etc. If you're the squeaky wheel, you'll get the grease[d exit] first...

Re:Man whose job relies on the scientific method.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328071)

You're right. It's been scientifically proven, through the scientific method, that people were born from rocks, lightning strikes, and omniscient, psychic protein strands!

Oh, wait, what's that? What do you mean that evolution has never actually had the scientific method applied to it? Uh huh, but it gets a free pass, because it happens over quadrillions of years in just out of the way places where we can't observe it happening, right? Oh good. Shit, I thought someone might actually QUESTION modern Science!

Isac Newton anyone? (-1, Flamebait)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327819)

I am happy that he did not work for NASA. God bless America. And yes, the idea of GOD is not scientifically ridiculous.

Re:Isac Newton anyone? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328013)

I know there's no point in rebutting you, you're either sincerely religious and therefore will brook no interference, or trolling and I'm wasting my time, but the idea of anything supernatural is scientifically nonexistent. It's definitional.

Re:Isac Newton anyone? (5, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328199)

the idea of GOD is not scientifically ridiculous

No, it's just irrelevant since it's non-testable, non-replicable, and non-falsifiable.

I guess they would never have hired (-1, Flamebait)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327821)

Einstein

Re:I guess they would never have hired (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327887)

Why not? Albert Einstein was an agnostic [wikipedia.org] , and to the best of my knowledge never espoused any support for Intelligent Design.

Re:I guess they would never have hired (2)

Swarley (1795754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327903)

"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

                            -Albert Einstein

Oh that kidder. We all know he wasn't a fan of evidence or anything so banal as that.

Re:I guess they would never have hired (2)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327985)

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein

Re:I guess they would never have hired (5, Insightful)

Swarley (1795754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328051)

religion without science is blind

That would be your Intelligent Design right there. You may not realize this depending on where you get your science information but there is quite literally ZERO evidence in favor of ID. Not a little. Or some weak evidence that needs more study to flesh it out. ZERO. Not a little bit vs. evolution through natural selection's large piles. I mean zero. Nothing. Intelligent design is blind religion at it's finest.

Re:I guess they would never have hired (5, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328241)

Actually ID is more insidious than even that. The core argument is so vacuous and devoid of anything approaching a prediction or explanation that it can't even really be disproven. Yes, guys like Behe and Dembski will come up with some example, like say, the vertebrate immune system, but really, they're not in fact invoking any particular of aspect of ID to make the claim, they're just saying "ooh, it's too complex!". Worst of all is Behe, who is a molecular biologist, so should know the literature enough to know there are decades worth of studies showing how things like "irreducible complexity" can in fact evolve, and that the very examples he so often invokes were long before his time demonstrated to be evidence FOR biological evolution.

Of course the leaders of the ID movement are a very shifty lot. If they're talking to a crowd of people who tend towards accepting evolution, ID is all about that missing link needed to create life from non-life. If they're giving a speech in a church basement, they basically turn into all-out Creationists.

But I remember many years ago someone on talk,origins summed up ID best when he said ID says nothing more than "somehow something somewhere is wrong with evolution." That's about as much meat as you'll ever got on the beast. It's nothing more than an appeal to incredulity, built up with lots of pseudo-scientific (in particular irreducible complexity) and pseudo-mathematical (Dembski's information filter) fluff. You'll get more content from a 30 second detergent advertisement.

Re:I guess they would never have hired (3, Funny)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328067)

"People have quoted me as saying all kinds of shit I never said." - Albert Einstein

Re:I guess they would never have hired (5, Insightful)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328215)

That does not mean what you think it means: Science is constantly proving religion wrong and it gives science an underlying purpose to keep moving forward with its work in every category while religion is constantly revising its interpretations of an apparently flawless book. While at the same time religion needs science because it does actually explain how some of the "miracles" could have occurred if the people in the stories were the thinking kind of people who could predict wind patterns and sun locations. In short, they "need" each other

Einstein was by no means a religious person - in fact, the great physicist saw religion as no more than a "childish superstition". "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this".

Re:I guess they would never have hired (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327955)

No, but they would have hired Hitler!!!!!!111!

You're a knob!

Your comment/argument is utterly specious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328149)

I guess they would never have hired Einstein

I'm sure that even a troll can see what a stupid comment that was. The decision would depend on suitability for the position for which he was applying, not (his) savantism.

Einstein had amazing intuition in certain areas, making him (on the whole) quite brilliant in thise areas but he was also sometimes wrong.

Also, like most so-called geniuses, it appears that he was actually a savant - brilliant at a very narrow range of things and totally inept in other things.

I would have hired him to research relativity, but I sure as hell wouldn't have hired him as a fashion or sartorial advisor.

Your statement/argument is utter nonsense.

Too stupid for work for NASA (3, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327823)

Can't say I'm sympathetic. If his critical thinking skills, not to mention his social skills are so bad, then he has no business working for NASA, and show go and work for Ken Ham or something, where his abilities and skills will be better appreciated.

Re:Too stupid for work for NASA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327925)

Since when has NASA required social skills?

Re:Too stupid for work for NASA (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327983)

Since when has NASA required social skills?

It's just a precaution, in case we meet the aliens. You don't want to alienate the aliens at your first alien encounter.

Re:Too stupid for work for NASA (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328163)

It's just a precaution, in case we meet the aliens. You don't want to alienate the aliens at your first alien encounter.

No, it's just a precaution in case they meet Congress. You don't want to be conned by Congress at your first Congress encounter.

(Oh, wait, that's really the same thing as what you said)

Not because he believed, but because he recruited. (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327827)

There is a not so fine line between espousing a belief and passing out DVDs to co-workers and trying to convert them. Sounds like disruptive behavior to me. I also would expect from the description that he was asked to stop, then warned before being let go.

Re:Not because he believed, but because he recruit (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328027)

Sounds to me like he was fired for being a jerk, and continued acting like a jerk after he was fired.

Re:Not because he believed, but because he recruit (5, Insightful)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328041)

Exactly. Pushing your religious beliefs at work is bad enough, but doing it as a manager is something else entirely. Sounds to me like the dude crossed several lines.

I've worked with a few oddballs, like a Young Earth'er who'd fill your ear with great flood stories (the Grand Canyon is proof positive of the great flood!), but they all knew what lines not to cross and I had no problem with them professionally. One is still a good friend. You can talk about this stuff at a peer level, outside of work within reason (i.e. respect folks desire to change the subject when they are clearly getting uncomfortable). You can't create a situation where employees can reasonably be afraid that their review/raise/promotion can affected by agreeing or disagreeing with them on decidedly non-work topics.

Re:Not because he believed, but because he recruit (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328247)

This exactly. Seeing as how Mt. St. Helens is practically a mini model of the Grand Canyon and was formed in 3 days over the span of a year and a half certainly raises some interesting questions, questions that are fun to talk about. But if it's not fun for the person you're talking with, stop talking about it.

Re:Not because he believed, but because he recruit (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328157)

Agreed. I'm pretty religious (Jewish), but I don't make it a habit to discuss my religion at work. If asked about a certain aspect of Judaism, I'll answer. If I need to take a day off due to a Jewish holiday, I'll talk with my boss about it. Otherwise, my religion and my work are two completely different things.

If one of my co-workers started telling giving me DVDs and pamphlets telling me that I needed to accept Jesus or fry in hell, I'd complain to HR and would expect that this employee would be warned to stop and fired if he/she didn't.

Re:Not because he believed, but because he recruit (1)

hardie (716254) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328169)

I agree. I've worked with a couple of people who believed more in their cause and its evangelism than doing their job. This sort of behavior isn't appropriate at work, especially in a manager position.

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327829)

In other news people get fired for their sexuality.

And sexuality isn't even a believe. It is just sexuality.

Hmmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327841)

I hope he wins. I'm not sure that my efforts to convert colleagues to satanism have been making a good impression at work and I could use the precedent.

Well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327855)

Didn't Descartes claim he got three visions from angels which set him on his scientific path?

Complexity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327857)

Molecules are too complex to be made by atoms alone. Amino acids are too complex to be made by molecules alone. DNA is too complex to be made by amino acids alone. Human beings are too complex to be made by DNA alone. The internet is too complex to be made by man alone.

Re:Complexity (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328101)

The internet is too complex to be made by man alone.

For an ordinary man perhaps... but nothing is too complex for Dan Quayle.

Just a thought... (5, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327877)

A thought:

If life were to be too complex to arise by evolution, and needed an intelligent designer, then surely the intelligent designer would also be too complex to arise naturally.

Who or what created the creator?

Re:Just a thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327977)

Who or what created the creator?

Cowboy Neal

Re:Just a thought... (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327979)

"Who or what created the creator?". Neil deGrasse Tyson traveled back in time to ejaculate in the primordial ooze.

Re:Just a thought... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328007)

wow, just wow. this blew my mind. never in my whole history of teaching philosophy 101 to retards has such an insightful question been asked. well done.

Don't bother (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328045)

People don't accept ID because it is rational and well-supported by scientific evidence. People accept ID because it abates their fears about their place in the universe, and because it is consistent with the stories they were told when they were impressionable children.

Rare indeed is a person who can be made, by purely rational means, to reject a belief system to which he has plenty of irrational attachments.

Posting challenges like yours are tantamount to mud wrestling with a pig (you get nowhere, and the pig enjoys it).

Re:Just a thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328115)

A thought:

If life were to be too complex to arise by evolution, and needed an intelligent designer, then surely the intelligent designer would also be too complex to arise naturally.

Who or what created the creator?

Chuck Norris!

Re:Just a thought... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328117)

In addition, if the existence of complex things means a creator, what does the existence of simple things imply? Would a universe full of simple things mean a creator wasn't necessary?

Re:Just a thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328229)

The expectation that things need to be created is strange. I've been on this planet 27 years and I'm yet to see anything created or destroyed.

Re:Just a thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328233)

Where did the infinite-mass, zero-volume point of light come from, from which the big bang erupted?

It's easy to throw stones, but you live in a big, beautiful glass house.

Re:Just a thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328265)

Say hello to my friend Thomas Aquinas.

W

Yeah right... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327879)

David Coppedge, who worked as a "team lead" on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, alleges that he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work. Coppedge lost his "team lead" title in 2009 and was let go last year after 15 years on the mission.

And...

Coppedge had a reputation around JPL as an evangelical Christian and other interactions with co-workers led some to label him as a Christian conservative, Becker said.

[he] says he believes other things also led to his demotion, including his support for a state ballot measure that sought to define marriage as limited to heterosexual couples and his request to rename the annual holiday party a "Christmas party."

First, don't shove it in everyone's faces and it won't be an issue. Difficult for an evangelical, I know.

Second...

It looks like a pretty straightforward case. The mission that he was working on was winding down and he was laid off.

Good luck getting around that. Sounds kinda... normal and uninteresting.

Computer specialist? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327893)

The man claims he was demoted and then let go for promoting his views

Since one's beliefs on the origins of life have absolutely zero do do with the work of a "computer specialist," I'd hope he was fired if he was proselytizing at work.

Re:Computer specialist? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328021)

The guy was clearly pretty fucking retarded. Michael Behe is one of the main "formulators" (whatever that may mean in pseudo-science") of Intelligent Design and he works at Baylor in molecular biology, although the rest of the faculty regard him as a joke, but the one thing Behe never does is risk his tenure by using the university or any peer reviewed publishing to forward his views. He saves that for the rubes that pay him lots of money, including those retards at Dover (where his humiliation was completed).

Re:Computer specialist? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328153)

Just like you don't put forth your hatred here for your rubes.

I agree with him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327909)

We should design our spaceships and rovers intelligently.

Sure beats the alternative!

Are all beliefs protected? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39327913)

What if I don't believe in the metric system. The Earth is flat. The moon is made of cheese. Must NASA put up with my beliefs, even if I promote my beliefs, while still doing my job adequately?

Work is not the place for proselytising (4, Insightful)

jiteo (964572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327965)

From the TFA:

He [...] handed out DVDs on the idea [intelligent design] while at work

The question is whether the plaintiff was fired simply because he was wasting people's time and bothering them in ways that would have led him to being fired regardless of whether it was about religion or whether he was treated worse based on the religiosity of his beliefs.

The former.

Re:Work is not the place for proselytising (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328059)

Hear hear. It doesn't matter if the person was handing out DVDs about his imaginary friend (theism) or handing out DVDs about agnosticism, or atheism. Bothering people and wasting their time with any agenda is going to get you into trouble at work. People can believe whatever they want. (As Winston Zeddmore once said, "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."). However, other people shouldn't be bothering them trying to make them believe something else (typically something they find ludicrous).

hmm.... (1)

butilikethecookie (2566015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327969)

Separation of church and state? NASA IS part of the government. Maybe the guy in charge was having a bad day? If I was the guy that got fired I would press charges.

Re:hmm.... (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328171)

Separation of church and state? Sounds like the government forcing church: "If you don't toe the line on secularity, we're gonna fire your ass." That's a threat if I ever heard one. There are many legitimate reasons to fire this guy (creating a workplace environment detrimental to business objectives, i.e., making people uncomfortable to the point that they can't get their work done). Religious beliefs are not one of them.

Derivative of Belief (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327973)

Well, if believing in intelligent design is not enough to get you fired, believing that you were fired because you believe in intelligent design, and telling people that, is probably evidence of other factors that could get you fired from NASA.

Re:Derivative of Belief (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328073)

Well, if believing in intelligent design is not enough to get you fired, believing that you were fired because you believe in intelligent design, and telling people that, is probably evidence of other factors that could get you fired from NASA.

+1

time, place, manner (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327981)

There's a difference between firing someone for their religious beliefs and firing someone for promoting those beliefs at work, especially if the person is in some position of authority over those he's passing the DVDs out to. There's a trend lately with Christians complaining that their religious freedom is being infringed, when what's really happening is that they simply aren't being allowed to impose (to some degree or another) their religion on someone else. Whether it's a teacher lecturing to her students about her religious beliefs, an employer specifying which legal medical treatment an employee's health insurance covers, or a supervisor trying to persuade his team of his religious beliefs, those are all examples of religious "freedom" going far enough to step on others' right to believe differently. Like the old saying that "your freedom to swing your arm ends where my nose begins", your right to proselytize ends at the office door.

Re:time, place, manner (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328049)

Indeed. And it's getting exported abroad, in particular in Britain where various American-based Christian groups are pushing ridiculous cases into the courts where they know they'll inevitably get a pounding so they can claim "You see, there's a war on Christianity!"

Can't say I have a problem with this (0, Flamebait)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39327997)

So I'm a jackass. I'd say that anybody that believes in creationism or ID should be shot (assuming they've been given the opportunity to understand, you know, facts, and just didn't take it).

Toning that back a bit, I'd say he should be fired for believing it. If you want to be a secretary and believe in ID, you're still an idiot but it isn't direct evidence that you're incompetent, like it is for a scientist or engineer.

Now I know that the guy was a "computer specialist", so he could've perhaps gotten by. Some random techie fiddling with the computers doesn't need to "believe" in science (not that science requires belief).

But note the operative word that the summary tossed in - "promoting". That's what changes this from a "they fired an idiot, but his idiocy didn't affect his job necessarily" to "he's getting in the way of everybody's work". Anyone he was able to convince, they wouldn't want anyway - but you can be damned sure he was trying hard to convince people at NASA that science wasn't really that great.

It's like Microsoft firing a guy who goes around bothering the Windows folks and telling them they ought to use Macs. Regardless of your feelings on the matter, it's impossible to see that as anything other than irritating at best, and obstructive at worst.

Serious Contradiction (2)

JeanCroix (99825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328001)

FTA:

...alleges that he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work.

and

He did not go around evangelizing or proselytizing.

So which is it? The belief itself shouldn't matter, but the proselytizing at work does. And it sounds like he and his lawyer haven't decided what actually occurred yet.

Promoting (5, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328005)

"The man claims he was demoted and then let go for promoting his views on intelligent design,"

"alleges that he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work."

Notice that he doesn't claim he was fired for having the belief. He claims he was fired for promoting it. His version of 'promoting' might be everyone else's version of 'harassment'.

"In the lawsuit, Coppedge says he believes other things also led to his demotion, including his support for a state ballot measure that sought to define marriage as limited to heterosexual couples and his request to rename the annual holiday party a "Christmas party."" ... So it wasn't just ID. He also spouted hate and political correctness.

""The question is whether the plaintiff was fired simply because he was wasting people's time and bothering them in ways that would have led him to being fired regardless of whether it was about religion or whether he was treated worse based on the religiosity of his beliefs," said Volokh." ... And wasting people's time at work.

"He sued in April 2010 alleging religious discrimination, retaliation and harassment and amended his suit to include wrongful termination after losing his job last year."

And he was already suing before he was fired, so this is an on-going thing. I think with a lawsuit in progress, they'd have to be pretty ballsy to fire him over the thing he was suing about, unless they had really, really good reason for it. A court will have to make that determination, though, as we don't have all the evidence. What evidence I've seen isn't pointing in a direction he'd like, though.

Re:Promoting (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328077)

It sounds like the guy and his lawyer are rather confused themselves. But in the long run, no matter how it works out, he'll have a new career lecturing slackjawed Creationist types on how the ebil gubberment attacks Christianity.

In the year 2047 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328023)

belief in religion will be viewed as a mental disability.

Re:In the year 2047 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328185)

I hope not, but if someone in a leadership or managerial position insists on shoving their beliefs down my throat when it is not welcome, then I do hope somebody realizes that the person lacks the judgement to be responsible for anything more than a tracking office supplies.

If he was running around prosletizing about it... (1)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328043)

... and wouldn't stop when asked, I imagine colleagues would get pissed and find it a hard work environment to excel in.

I had a coworker became a born-again Christian. No one cared, until he tried to recruit us into a lunch-hour prayer group. When no one showed up, he decided to bring the prayer group to us, where ever we were. I guess he thought he was some sort of second-coming-of-Jesus prophet. That was freaking uncomfortable. He left shortly afterwards. I don't know if he was "moved along" or he felt sullied working with unbelievers.

A security risk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328047)

A creationist is a potential security risk.

It is only a small step for the Insane to become criminal Insane: Alcohol, family problems, money problems.

That is why they remove this kind of unstable people from Nuclear facilities or NASA as soon as they're identified.

And seeing how NASA is about science, which creationists hate most, this is clearly a win/win situation.

He's Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328053)

If you've ever READ anything about this topic, he's actually correct scientifically. If you are unaware of Robert Spitzer, read some of his works, and then come back. I can't understand how this forum claims to be for rational people - who mostly rely on uninformed atheistic dogma for their beliefs rather than rational logical thought.

Depends... (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328057)

Whether or not this is justified probably depends on what he was doing.

One small company I used to work for had one annoying prat. who used to constantly send e-mails to the entire company promoting creationism... it was one mass-forward after another from some religious site he belong to. Stating how if you're a real Xian you wouldn't associate with non-Xians because they may make you doubt your faith... etc... How evolution is the devils idea, etc.

You know the usual "We Xians are better than everyone else" dribble.

That, to me was obnoxious. It didn't offend me- but it peeved me. Ironically, it was my religious co-workers who were the ones offended by what he kept sending out.

Eventually, HR blocked the ability to send mass-emails to the whole company to shut him up. Anywhere other than South Carolina he would probably have got in trouble for sending out his hate-propoganda.

It was God's Will. (2, Insightful)

bareman (60518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328079)

Tell him it was God's will that he was fired, and if he pursues the lawsuit he's doubting God's plan.

Uhm (1)

fauxhemian (1281852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328109)

From the article:

He did not go around evangelizing or proselytizing. But if he found out that someone was a Christian he would say, 'Oh that's interesting, what denomination are you?'" Becker said....

"He's not apologizing for who he is. He's an evangelical Christian."

wat.

Scientific Method (1)

KuRa_Scvls (932317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328111)

Scientific Method - Civilization 4

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use" - Galileo Galilei

Need for more information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328129)

As usual with cases like this, we don't have all the facts. As a previous poster wrote, perhaps he was asked to stop and refused to and thus was let go (although the official from TFA the project was winding down and he was laid off along with some others. I am a Christian but I would never, and have never, gone around asking people with whom I work about their religious views. It's none of my business and inappropriate at the workplace. As to his belief in ID and his position, from the TFA he was not one of the scientists. His work was basically IT and not space science.

Can't say I have much sympathy (0)

Millennium (2451) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328147)

The guy was known to be proselytizing at work, going so far as to apparently hand out DVDs on the matter. That sort of thing is verboten in almost any workplace out there, for good reasons that have nothing to do with the content of the message.

That said, cue the morons who think that his beliefs alone should have gotten him fired, based on the ridiculous idea that because he doesn't follow a specific epistemology concerning matters unrelated to his chosen field, he does not think.

21st century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328175)

We are talking about creationist nonsense in 21st century via internet. That is so dope.
Next we will be planning witch burning via facebook.

God, why was I laid off? (1)

KuRa_Scvls (932317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328207)

man: God, why was I laid off?
God: I work in mysterious ways, son. That, and you forgot to carry the two.

Down-modded (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328209)

I've always had Excellent karma on Slashdot for years until I made a post that the believe that evolution occurs is not in direct opposition to the belief that there is a Creator/God.

I was down-modded like crazy and people came out of the woodwork to make personal attacks.

My wife tells me of how she was harassed while working at a Jesuit university for believing in God, because she was in a lab. Fellow Jesuit employees spoke of how only absolute idiots would believe in God, and how it is an absolute accepted fact amongst intellectuals that God cannot exist.

I still maintain that if it is a great offense to believe in the existence of God (which cannot be tested), then it is equally a great offense to believe definitely in the inverse of something that cannot be tested.

I think most intellectuals who believe in God hide their beliefs out of fear and shame that they will be judged and ostracized for that belief. I would assume that intellectuals would easily spot the logical fallacy that judging a belief solely on the merits of the stupidest people who believe in it doesn't hold water.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/guilt-by-association.html [nizkor.org]

Re:Down-modded (2)

KuRa_Scvls (932317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328297)

Maybe it wasn't your opinion that evolution is not in opposition to God/creator

but your broad accusations about the "intellectuals" that revoked your E-karma

Stupid Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328237)

Don't you mean stupid design? Our pleasure unit is mixed with our waste disposal unit.

I do wonder if this is a setup to bring the issue to higher courts. His agenda might be to get ID more out into the open at the workplace. Microsoft will need to prove that the ID itself is not the reason he was fired.

Work is no place for politics or religion (3, Insightful)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328243)

Unless you are a politician or clergy. Otherwise you can expect to alienate the majority of your co-workers.

He wasn't fired because of his beliefs (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328263)

Most likely he was fired because he sued the company after being demoted. Not a nice thing from NASA, but he should have seen it coming.

He was laid off due to budget cuts. End of Story. (2)

xanthos (73578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39328283)

From the article;
    "Caltech lawyers contend Coppedge was one of two Cassini technicians and among 246 JPL employees let go last year due to planned budget cuts."

The interesting thing is he is pretty much admitting that he shoved his views in others faces, otherwise why would it be a reason to let him go?

buy 1 get 2 free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39328309)

"promoting his views on intelligent design, "

He's allowed to be beleive what he wants, but when he started preaching in the workplace...............

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