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NASA The Courts Science

Lawsuit Claims NASA Specialist Was Fired Over Intelligent Design Belief 743

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-beginning dept.
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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Lawsuit Claims NASA Specialist Was Fired Over Intelligent Design Belief

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  • by Ferzerp (83619) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:07PM (#39327809)

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

    Who would have thought.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:18PM (#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.

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:41PM (#39328473) Homepage

        It sounds like he was finally fired for not being able to take a hint after being demoted for the above activities.

        Definitely not the sort of person you want to spending tax dollars on at NASA.

        • by networkBoy (774728) on Monday March 12, 2012 @02:38PM (#39329529) Homepage Journal

          If he believes in God, Allah, Buddha, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or even Scientology, that is his right.
          If he insists on pushing that belief on others when they are 'captive' that is not his right. Termination is acceptable, especially of other methods of behavioral modification (written up, demoted, etc.) have not worked.

          I once frequented a coffee shop run by a pair of brothers who were Jehovah's Witness. They had literature available, and if you asked they would try to convert you, but they understood that people came to get caffeine, not God, and thus kept it very low key. They ended up closing down for tangentially related reasons (a run-in with the Aryan Brotherhood that went very badly), but they got it, that religion is not barred from the workplace, but must be subordinate to it, in that the focus of a business, or office is to work, whereas the focus of a house of worship is, well, to worship.
          -nB

      • by doza (657250) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:47PM (#39328563)
        NASA isn't just about flying rockets into space. If you're trying to find other planets which could harbor life you can't leave evolution out of the equasion.
      • by snowgirl (978879) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:50PM (#39328619) Journal

        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.

        Indeed... really the only way he would have a case in the first place is if Intelligent Design is admittedly religious belief. I know that the Dover School trial established that it was, but ID proponents keep trying to argue that it has nothing to do with religion, in an effort to get it into the schools.

        So, really, creationists are stuck between a rock in a hard place. Either it's not religious so it can get into schools, or it is religious to get protected belief status. (You cannot be fired for being Christian, or expressing belief in Christian dogma. You can be fired for believing that the Loch Ness Monster actually exists.)

        • Content has been a license AND a product for ages, depending on what its maker needed it to be, why shouldn't it work with another religion?

        • by Homr Zodyssey (905161) on Monday March 12, 2012 @02:04PM (#39328879) Journal

          You can be fired for believing the Loch Ness Monster exists? That's news to me.

          This guy can believe all of the cockamamee(sp?) ideas he wants to, and shouldn't be fired for it. In America, we're pretty much allowed to believe whatever we want, and the only employers that are allowed to discriminate based upon beliefs are religious institutions.

          However, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. He must show that his beliefs rather than his actions were the reason for his demotion and subsequent firing. It will be hard to prove that about the firing, seeing as how they were laying off a lot of guys at the same time. He can believe in the Loch Ness Monster if he wants to, but if he wastes taxpayer resources expounding upon that belief, then he should be first on the chopping block.

          • by snowgirl (978879) on Monday March 12, 2012 @02:15PM (#39329113) Journal

            In America, we're pretty much allowed to believe whatever we want

            Yes, we are.

            the only employers that are allowed to discriminate based upon beliefs are religious institutions.

            The only employers who are allowed to violate the PROTECTED beliefs are religious institutions. Religious beliefs are protected beliefs, but non religious beliefs are not protected beliefs. (The law only protects adverse employment actions against people's "religion", not all beliefs.)

            Employers can fire you because you smoke. They can fire you because you're left-handed. They can fire you because you have green eyes. They can fire you for ANY AND ALL REASONS that are not explicitly protected by law.

            As belief in the Loch Ness Monster is not a religious belief nor is it real or perceived { gender, sex, race, color, disability, age, genetic information } and depending upon the state { sexual orientation, gender identity }, it is not a protected status, and thus is fair game for adverse employment actions.

          • by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Monday March 12, 2012 @02:17PM (#39329155)
            I would think, that since his job is based on science and he has such a flawed understanding of it to think that a 50,000,000 year old plesiosaur still existed in an isolated loch in Scotland, then yes fire him for his idiotic beliefs or that the earth is only 6000 years old, its 2 sides of the same coin after all. I don't want a doctor working on me that still thinks my humors are out of balance and decides I need a bile infusion, or a pilot that believes in the flat earth theory. However, this isn't about freedom of belief so much though as has been stated previously, it's about some asshat trying to force his asshat point of view on his fellow colleagues.
          • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Monday March 12, 2012 @04:04PM (#39330749) Journal

            The only question should be how was he doing his job.

            Someone who feels the profound need to nail his beliefs into other peoples' heads usually falls into a subclass of folks who are opinionated, stubborn and won't be dissuaded by silly things like proof or physical reality. A person like that in a technological profession will almost certainly find that this particular set of behaviors is antithetical to doing their job and in a position where logic is the foundation for making valid choices and selections a person who puts their beliefs and personal feeling first is going to step on a lot of toes and be a general aggravation to his coworkers.

            There is also a certain air of self righteousness and arrogance. These are highly off-putting character traits. If he feels obliged to share his religious views, he should consider working at a place where people believe the same things. Is there a church in his denomination that needs a person with his job skills. In such an environment of closed minds he should be happy as a pig in a wallow, and the rest of society can avoid the imposition of putting up with his uninvited opinions.

      • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:57PM (#39328751)
        I have known some people who are regarded, and rightly so, as leaders in their profession who when approached about religion/politics become raving lunatics. Especially if they think you have an opposing belief. I have chosen to believe there is in fact an omnipotent/omniscient/omnipresent being who created everything and loves everybody equally despite the stupid things we do. I don't care what anybody else thinks because I made this choice for me. I also don't think it is up to me to get everybody to choose the same thing. Unfortunately there is a large contingent of people who believe they are in fact tasked with beating Jesus into everybody else. IMHO Jesus does not approve of their tactics any more than he does of Iran sentencing a Christian man to death...for being a Christian. As to ID IMNSHO it is an attempt to explain something God told us not to try and understand in the first place. If you choose to believe in God then you do so on FAITH!!! You do not get explanations if you are believing on faith. To try and explain what you say you believe on faith is to admit you do not in fact believe so much as you want it to be true but you need more proof.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:18PM (#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.

      • 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.

      • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:26PM (#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.

      • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:38PM (#39328409)

        They didn't fire him for his tin foil hat. They fired him because of complaints lodged by his fellow workers about harassment. You hire people to do a job, not to preach about their religious views and generally waste others time with your vapid fairy tales.

        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."

        In an emailed statement, JPL dismissed Coppedge's claims. In court papers, lawyers for the California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL for NASA, said Coppedge received a written warning because his co-workers complained of harassment. They also said Coppedge lost his "team lead" status because of ongoing conflicts with others.

        "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. "If he can show that, then he's got a good case."

      • 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.

        Again, you are allowed to believe whatever you want, but you are not allowed to promote personal beliefs (in anything) in the workplace. Inappropriate. Pretty much everywhere in the U.S.

      • ID is no less rational than aliens at Wright Pat, but neither should be fireable offenses.

        If the believer's behavior is effecting his performance or the productivity of others it sure as hell should be a termination level offense. Assuming they asked the offending party to correct their behavior first.

      • by alcmaeon (684971)

        ID is no less rational than aliens at Wright Pat, but neither should be fireable offenses.

        Actually, ID probably is quite a bit more irrational that aliens at Wright Pat. At least in the case of the aliens, we have a number of eye-witnesses who claim to have seen the aliens or to have seen artifacts or to have seen technology they could not explain in terms of our current technology. That is the same type of proof we would rely on in criminal prosecutions. I don't know of any ID proponents who claim to ha

      • I live by Wright Pat and they did a lot of testing on drones and stuff before they were well known and commonly used in the Air Force. At that time, people around here actually had a more logical basis for believing in aliens than anyone has for ID. While I always believed the UFOs were just stuff that Wright Pat was testing I didn't find it shocking when these sightings convinced people of alien life.

        ID, unlike UFOs from Wright Pat, has yet to be identified to exist as anything other than a severally flawe

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

      Who would have thought.

      Actually, the real beef here is promoting personal beliefs in the workplace. It would be like pushing a religion on others where you work. Inappropriate. You as an American citizen are allowed to believe whatever you want, but you are not allowed to impress those beliefs on others in the workplace. I have known several people who have been reprimanded and let go from the place I worked for 11 years due to trying to openly promote Christianity in the office. In this case I would have to imagine it was someth

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:08PM (#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.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:08PM (#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.
    • by Moof123 (1292134) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:20PM (#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.

    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:26PM (#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.

      • And most likely that's what happened. People began complaining to HR about the guy handing out DVDs and harassing them on Intelligent Design. At some point the workplace situation will become untenable, and the employer's job is to make sure that does not happen.

        If you want to hang out on the street outside before and after work handing out DVDs, well, that's your right, but when you walk into the building, you're an employee, and you don't proselytize.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gameboyhippo (827141)

      I'm a creationist and a Christian and I agree. At work, I do not hide my beliefs. Heck, I have a framed image of a C.S. Lewis quote on my desk. Sometime I come to work wearing a shirt that says "Prays well with others" and has a quote from James on it. And if someone wants to engage me in a conversation on philosophy or religion, I'm game. But I don't go around passing DVDs and trying to convert my non-believing coworkers to believe in creationism. It's about the same as me trying to convince them tha

      • That is, that we don't have to pay for our transgressions because they were paid for by God Himself.

        This is one of the many things that ticks me off about Christianity. What transgression does a newborn have other than being born? Unless I'm mistaken, everyone is screwed from birth and to find salvation has to accept God (or Jesus) to be saved.

        Saved from what? The kid was just born! What possible transgression can they have?! Or are you saying God screwed things up so badly that he had to put
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:09PM (#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.

  • Just a thought... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:11PM (#39327877) Journal

    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?

    • by lorenlal (164133) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:16PM (#39327957)

      And, can that creator make a sandwich so big that even the creator can't eat it?

    • by Kenja (541830)
      "Who or what created the creator?". Neil deGrasse Tyson traveled back in time to ejaculate in the primordial ooze.
    • Don't bother (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

    • Re:Just a thought... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:38PM (#39328389) Homepage Journal

      FWIW, I am a Christian and thusly believe in a Creator. But I don't care for that logic of proving a Creator. I don't think complexity is at all relevant. However, if I were to play devil's advocate, I assume the theory is that a Creator exists outside our known limitations.

      Similarly you can ask if an omnipotent God can create a rock so heavy that he cannot himself lift it. Either answer suggests that omnipotence is impossible in and of itself, but it assumes limitations that may not apply. If a Creator can create the Cosmos, are they bound by the laws of physics, or are the laws of physics also simply part of their creation?

      Conversely you could ask what existed before the beginning of time, or where did all mass in the universe come from originally, or what exists beyond the boundary of finite space. Ultimately, you realize that these are utterly unanswerable questions. Any answer we accept is one of faith and we should not judge others for their conclusions to unanswerable questions without clear answers.

    • Re:Just a thought... (Score:5, Informative)

      by digitig (1056110) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:51PM (#39328643)

      Aquinas answered that in the 13th century. Try to keep up.

      For what it's worth the specific form of the ontological argument he was responding to defined complexity in terms of the number of parts and their internal interactions. Given that God -- as understood by Aquinas -- is not material, he has no parts at all and no internal interactions, and so is trivially simple in that sense. Alvin Plantinga recently restated that argument in response to Dawkins. It doesn't mean the ontological argument is necessarily a good one -- it has a problem with the principle of sufficient reason -- but it does mean that that objection isn't a particularly good one.

      • Sounds like Aquinas answered the question poorly. Why should complexity only have to do with moving physical parts? Clearly that is a poor measure for things with no physical component. He just came up with a definition of complexity that intentionally excluded God, thus handwaving the problem away.

  • Yeah right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:11PM (#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.

    • Add to that the detail that 246 others were laid off at the same time due to budget cuts. Maybe this guy was targeted but the current budgetary status of NASA/JPL is such that I find it easier to believe they are letting go people they don't want to lose.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:12PM (#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.

  • by jiteo (964572) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:17PM (#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.

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:17PM (#39327981) Homepage

    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.

    • 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!"

  • by JeanCroix (99825) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:18PM (#39328001) Journal
    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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:18PM (#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.

  • It was God's Will. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bareman (60518) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:22PM (#39328079) Homepage Journal

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

  • Down-modded (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:28PM (#39328209) Homepage Journal

    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]

    • 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

      • Re:Down-modded (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:42PM (#39328479) Homepage Journal

        I didn't make such statements at the time. I merely stated that I simultaneously believe in a Creator and that evolution occurs. I said the two weren't necessary in direct opposition and then was attacked repeatedly.

        In fact, any time I've ever admitted to believing in God on /, I've been down-modded. I personally really like the democratic moderation system of /., but it shows that many people incorrectly use down-modding to disagree with something rather than offering a counter-point. There is no -1 disagree.

        In the end, I state what I believe. I don't cater to moderation.

        • Re:Down-modded (Score:4, Insightful)

          by tulare (244053) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:53PM (#39328677) Journal

          Consider that /. is largely populated by analytical thinkers (computer people tend to be that way or else they'd do something else for a living) and that religion, regardless of what flavor, is predicated on the abandonment of analytical thought at least where one particular idea is concerned.

          Just like the guy this article is about, in a group of analytical thinkers, anti-analytical thinking is bound to be suspect.

          • Re:Down-modded (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Monday March 12, 2012 @02:06PM (#39328919) Homepage Journal

            Without a doubt, there are some common sentiments amongst most /. readers. Making a statement that goes against those common beliefs will be unpopular. If I argued that Bill Gates was a better human that Steve Jobs because Gates is giving to charity where as Jobs rarely/never did, I'd probably be down-modded by those who disagree. Apple is popular on Slashdot, where as Microsoft is hated.

            But that's my point. People should offer counter points rather than use the moderation system.

  • by Timmy D Programmer (704067) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:30PM (#39328243) Journal
    Unless you are a politician or clergy. Otherwise you can expect to alienate the majority of your co-workers.
  • 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?

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:43PM (#39328497)
    This guy was not fired for his beliefs. He was demoted and later fired, because he was a "team lead" and proselytized to his subordinates while on the clock as a government employee. This is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. His co-workers complained he was harassing them, it was investigated, and her received a written warning. He persisted and was demoted. Duh! Failure to Acquire Clue often has negative career consequences. He was terminated along with 245 others due to budget cuts. Again, Duh!. Negative performance reviews will put you onto the redundancy list. The bottom line though, is that when you are a government employee, you don't get to promote religion at work. Period.
  • by shoehornjob (1632387) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:48PM (#39328575)
    He was fired because he didn't know when to shut up. Only a religious zealot would be fool enough to try and sell intelligent design in a room full of rocket scientists.
  • by canadiangoose (606308) <djgraham@gmaFREEBSDil.com minus bsd> on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:52PM (#39328651)
    I'm agnostic, while the rest of my family are devout Mormons. I've noticed over the past few years that my family has begun to support the teching of Intelligent Design in science class. I've asked them why they believe that their matters of faith be taught in science class, and whether it would stand to reason that the scientific method be tought in sunday school? They keep responding with one of two disappointing answers:

    1. If Intelligent Design does not fit under the definition of "science", then it is obviously time to expand the definition. -- This seems to be the result of ignorance and the fact that both science and religeon use the same words for subtly different purposes. The first example that comes to mind is the word "evidence", which has a very scrict definition under the scientific method. Religeous folks hear that science requires evidence, and become frustrated when their "evidences" for the existence of God are brushed off as incomplete or incorrect. We can probably blame a poor education system for this misunderstanding, though the condition does seem to be self-reinforcing at this point. Not good.
    2. The one sister I have who actually has a decent understanding of the scientific method thinks that perhaps I.D. should not be tought in science classes (Thank God!!), but believes that the recent push by religeous folks to influence scientific discourse is the natural reaction to the "war on faith" that religeous leaders have been talking about for as long as there have been religeous leaders. If us un-enlightened would only see the light and conform to their supersticious beliefs, this entire dispute would go away. -- This is the more troubling problem, because the solution requires that we train people to think more critically, both about scientific and spiritual issues. There is room for God and science to co-exist, but very little room for the litteral interpretation of scriptures or the blind acceptance of religeous dogma when one learns to think critically. Unfortunately, I don't think people are generally smart enough to make this leap. Religeon is to comfortable, and offers easy answers to the complex questions that life presents.

    Hitchens was right, religeon poisons everything.

  • The NASA administrators stated his problem wasn't "believing" in ID, but refusing to stop proselytizing his coworkers. Since this is an objective claim that, if true, can be corroborated by witnesses, it's fairly likely.

    It turns out that personal belief systems do not entitle you to bother your colleagues with stuff that has nothing to do with work, and when they ask you to please tone it down and do your bloody job, that's not discrimination.

    It's not about beliefs being right, unfalsifiable, or provably wrong. Wherever I end up working, I would make no secret of my atheism, and be glad to discuss it at lunch if someone brings it up in a personal conversation. I would not treat my workplace as a personal ministry to preach at.

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.

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