Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab for Harassing and Demoting Supporter of Intelligent Design

Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab for Harassing and Demoting Supporter of Intelligent Design

Supervisors at NASA’s prestigious Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) illegally harassed and demoted a high-level computer system administrator for expressing support of intelligent design to co-workers, according to a discrimination lawsuit filed in California Superior Court.
The lawsuit (court number #BC435600) was filed by David Coppedge, an information technology specialist and system administrator on JPL’s Cassini mission to Saturn, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. A division of the California Institute of Technology, JPL operates under a contract with NASA. Coppedge was a “Team Lead” Systems Administrator on the Cassini mission until JPL demoted him for allegedly “pushing religion” by loaning interested co-workers DVDs supportive of intelligent design.


Freedom of speech. This man has the right to say as he feels about the beginning of the universe. While I subscribe to a belief that God started the universe 15 billion years ago and has guided it constantly with all the laws of nature, this man still has the right to think as he wishes.

His beliefs in Intelligent Design do not prevent him from being a good computer system administrator. If people do not wish to believe as he does, they do not have to. This man’s case is valid. He is being denied his right to free speech.

I’m sick of the constant suppression of free speech in this country, especially since free speech is something that made this country unique and great.

Another “Expelled” case.

What may not be clear is that the article in the first post is a press release from the Discovery Insitute, which is the main organization in the US promoting Intelligent Design. As such, they are presenting their side of the story. We aren’t hearing JPL’s side.

If unjust discrimination occurred, I hope David Coppedge is fairly compensated. But I think we need to hear more information before we can evaluate this situation.

the original discovery.org/a/14471

He was hired to be a system administrator not to spend company time being a missionary for ID. If he was doing what he was paid to do instead of running around trying to convert people to ID and tossing out DVDs then he wouldn’t have been demoted.

Indeed, if he is wasting the time designated for him to be working. But if he was performing these activities outside of those designated times (i.e. during lunch or break) then he has done nothing wrong.

So far, no information has been presented stating that Mr. Coppedge was not appropriately using company time. Therefore, at the current moment, it appears as though Mr. Coppedge’s rights are being infringed upon.

If it were to become known that Mr. Coppedge was using company time to promote his views, then this means his demotion can be assumed to be due to the fact that he was not performing the duties he is supposed to during his assigned work schedule, something that any company reserves the full right to do.

Even if this was done on break, or out of the workplace entirely, it may still be merited. Many workplace policies relate to behavior in and out of work. For example, if I check myself into a mental health facility for a few days, I would automatically lose my job. (which is more than just policy - it’s a state law)

The point is that when people get hired, they sign certain forms pertaining to their behavior, often even behavior outside of work. Just because it’s down outside of work, or on break, does not mean he’s free and clear.

edit in - let me also point out that according to Kitzmiller V. Dover, Intelligent Design is inherently religious, and the subject of religion is often forbidden in the workplace.

But I think we can say that if you check yourself into a mental health facility, it directly affects to how you do your job. Believing in ID doesn’t. The analogy is false.

It doesn’t actually affect how I do my job. My hours fluctuate highly and if I checked myself in for about 3 days, I wouldn’t even have to miss any work. Yet automatically, I would lose my job. In fact, the hospital I checked myself in would be obligated to inform my place of work, provided they found out where I worked. Patient confidentiality laws need not apply. This fact was made painstakingly clear when I was hired - that I cannot work within 2 years of having been a patient in a mental institution.

In addition, belief in ID, at least in my mind, and of course in the minds of many of those scientists that were his coworkers, belays a large lack of critical thinking skills - a VERY necessary part of working on the space program. Not having those skills can create a literally life-threatening situation at a job like that.

Geez, that’s not being highly prejudicial at all :rolleyes:

I hope we haven’t interrupted your tea and scones.

OK. So how does an alleged lack of critical thinking skills:

  1. enable a person to rise to the level he apparently held?
  2. literally threaten life when interplanetary spacecraft are unmanned?

Perhaps he recently changed his mind about it. One can lose their critical thinking skills

  1. literally threaten life when interplanetary spacecraft are unmanned?

Cause a critical system failure at a launch, making the rocket crash back to earth, possibly in a populated area.

Changing one’s mind, if one is in error, could also indicate the use of those skills.

This is why launch sites are located in remote areas and why range safety ordinance is on the rocket.

If you’re doing critical thinking every day on the job (as I suspect this guy was), it’s pretty hard to loose them. They become ingrained in you. The process becomes second nature, you hardly need to think anymore to go through a run-of-the-mill problem.

I should know, I’m an engineering student and a Catholic. A priest I know had his first degree in mechanical engineering, and I can tell by his homilies that he hasn’t lost his either.

If one assumes that intelligent design is inherently religious, one would never hire a young chap name Issac Newton.

A man who lived before Darwin is an unfair comparison. Critical thinking skills are necessarily based upon the facts we know about a subject. What was known in Isaac Newton’s time and what is known now is very different. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if Isaac Newton had believed in evolution, I would say he may have lacked critical thinking skills himself. (don’t know enough about the state of science then to speak conclusively though)

And for the rest of you - I’m only speculating about the reasons they might have to demote him. You’re all jumping to the conclusion that they’re being prejudice against ID, but there are a plethora of possibilities for why this happened.

I don’t know if this qualifies as ID, but many reasonable folks find absurd the notion that inanimate matter formed itself into a living (i.e., moving, food-digesting, reproducing) organism. That would require a very careful self-ordering of the basic elements…either that or they’re not inanimate. The organism itself is not even fully understood by modern science. Even Dawkins acknowledged this in Expelled. He explained it away by pointing to aliens. No scientific evidence for that but the question remains…how did alien life originate? Inanimate matter on some other planet formed itself into a living alien organism. Same question.

I once asked an atheist to explain the beginning of the universe, and he just threw back that I was using a “God of the gaps argument that nobody above 10 would seriously believe” ( pretty much no answer).

The idea that somehow in the hundreds of millions of years the Earth has existed that only the Homo genus has managed to evolve/move past animal instincts into a civilization capable of logic, mathematics, art, and everything else seems ridicules to me. Yes, I know disasters and ice ages and all that, but if there were another capable species in the history of the Earth there would be archeological evidence of it. We’ve found nothing to suggest that. There has been no civilization like that of the one we live in (Homo sapiens). There have been millions of animal species throughout history, and to me it defies probability that there has only been 1. Humans are a member of Kingdom Animalia (we fit the definition at least), but we’re just so fundamentally different.

That? Critical thinking and logic.

You’ll make a good engineer my son.

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