Intelligent design is at the center of a lawsuit that kicks off today in Los Angeles, concerning a NASA scientist who alleges that he was demoted and eventually removed from the mission he’d worked for a decade and a half on for promoting the controversial-in-science concept.
David Coppedge was a team lead on the Cassini mission, exploring Saturn, and worked on the project for fifteen years. In 2009, he was demoted, and then Coppedge was removed entirely from the mission in 2011. The scientist believes that his passion for intelligent design- including conversing about the concept at work and even handing DVDs out to his fellow scientists- led to his removal from the mission, and the case has drawn passionate defense on both sides of the intelligent design argument.
Scientists are generally not fond of the focus on God to the detriment of scientific advancement in the fracas, and in regards to the case, the National Center for Science Education has been following Coppedge’s filings closely. NCSE’s programs and policy director Josh Rosenau commented:
“It would be unfortunate if the court took what seems to be a fairly straightforward employment law case and allowed it to become this tangled mess of trying to adjudicate scientific matters. It looks like a pretty straightforward case. The mission that he was working on was winding down and he was laid off.”
Supporters of Coppedge’s claims include Christian civil rights group The Alliance Defense Fund, and associate director of Center for Science and Culture John West counters:
“It’s part of a pattern. There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin and we’ve seen that for several years… This is free speech, freedom of conscience 101.”
Coppedge also alleges that his opinions about gay marriage and advocating office holiday parties being renamed Christmas parties led to some of the alleged discrimination. He is seeing wrongful termination damages and recompense for legal fees in the suit.