Source: Catholic News Agency
David Coppedge, formerly a JPL lead information technology specialist on the laboratories' Cassini mission to Saturn, is suing his employer for religious discrimination.
Mr Coppedge claims that he was demoted after he voiced his beliefs about intelligent design, the theory that the organisation of biological life and the universe indicates the existence of an intelligent cause.
However, his former supervisor, Gregory Chin, said that co-workers complained about his actions, and he was given a written warning describing his actions as harassing in nature and disruptive to the workplace. He was then removed from the “team lead” position on the Cassini mission.
"The written warning against Coppedge that was issued last April (2009) was expunged from his personnel file this year after his supervisors and manager revisited the matter. But he was not restored to the team lead position because the company continued to believe that his conduct in distributing the DVDs and advancing his views on intelligent design was inappropriate."William Becker, of The Allied Defence Fund, claimed;
"Mr. Coppedge has always maintained that intelligent design is a scientific theory, but JPL has illegally discriminated against him on the basis of what they deem is 'religion."It is hard to support this claim when in 2005, Judge John E.Jones III, in the famous Kitzmiller vs. Dover, came to the following conclusion;
Teaching intelligent design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (and Article I, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution) because intelligent design is not science and "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."Whilst this federal court case was specifically related to Intelligent Design (ID) being taught in schools, the legal status of ID has been clearly outlined as;
The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. (page 43)
Quite what the ADF is trying to claim here is uncertain; If they claim that ID is a scientific theory rather than a mere religious world-view, then Mr Coppedge tacitly admits that there can be no religious discrimination. Conversely, if he was religiously discriminated against, his views on the scientific nature of ID are without foundation.
None of this precludes his dismissal for 'pushing religion' in a manner not conducive to good working practices.
Mr Coppedge's religion has not been stated in any of the previous reports, but the story's inclusion in the Catholic News Agency's pages suggest that he may be a Roman Catholic. For the purposes of the remainder of this article, I shall make the assumption that Mr Coppedge is, indeed, a Roman Catholic although I must state that this assumption is by no means conclusive.
The official position of the RCC on evolution is one of a more encompassing doctrine of theistic evolution, where they believe that there is a God, that God is the creator of the material universe and (by consequence) all life within, and that biological evolution is simply a natural process within that creation.
However, notable support for the theory of evolution has come from numerous sources;
"In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points.... Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory."- Pope Jean Paul II
"One, the scientific theory of evolution, as all scientific theories, is completely neutral with respect to religious thinking; two, the message of John Paul II, which I have just referred to and which is dismissed by the cardinal (Schonborn) as ‘rather vague and unimportant,’ is a fundamental church teaching which significantly advances the evolution debate; three, neo-Darwinian evolution is not in the words of the cardinal, ‘an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection;’ four, the apparent directionality seen by science in the evolutionary process does not require a designer; five, Intelligent Design is not science despite the cardinal’s statement that ‘neo-Darwinism and the multi-verse hypothesis in cosmology [were] invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science,"Clearly, then, for Mr Coppedge's claims for dismissal for religious discrimination, he must admit that his belief in ID is, in fact, a religious doctrine and not a scientific one and that if he is a Catholic, he needs to get his doctrinal ducks in order.- George Coyne - Former director of the Vatican Observatory in reaction to Cardinal Schonborn's insistence that “neo-Darwinian evolution is not compatible with Catholic doctrine,” while the Intelligent Design theory is.
A case of eating your cake and having it? He may not enjoy either.
Tris Stock is a secular atheist, sceptic, pop-philosopher and writer trying very hard to build up a following with a view to one day make an income from doing what he loves. Please follow him on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.