A former computer specialist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is suing the agency, charging that he was demoted and then fired for promoting his views on intelligent design, the belief that an intelligent power was responsible for creating the universe.
As reported by the Associated Press, David Coppedge, who had led a team on NASA’s Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its surrounding moons, charges that that officials with the lab discriminated against him after he sparked conversation with co-workers about intelligent design, including handing out DVDs on the subject produced by an organization with which he is involved. In 2009, Coppedge was demoted from his “team lead” and was ultimately terminated after 15 years on the job.
Coppedge is being represented in the suit by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a conservative legal advocacy group, and is being supported by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, a public policy think tank and proponent of intelligent design. John West, a director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, said that what Coppedge faced at JPL is “part of a pattern” in the scientific community by which those who advocate for a faith-based approach to science and creation are effectively silenced by the secular majority. “There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin and we’ve seen that for several years,” he said. “This is free speech, freedom of conscience 101.”
JPL officials insist that Coppedge’s termination occurred because his project was coming to an end. Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education, a secular group that says intelligent design is nothing more that a dressed-up version of Bible-based creationism, argued that proponents of the theory are trying to capitalize on a job-related conflict.
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