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Old 12-10-2007, 02:02 PM   #1
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Christian Biologist Fired For Beliefs, Suit Says

By Jason Szep, Reuters

A Christian biologist is suing the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, claiming he was fired for refusing to accept evolution, lawyers involved in the case said on Friday.

Nathaniel Abraham, an Indian national who describes himself as a "Bible-believing Christian," said in the suit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston that he was fired in 2004 because he would not accept evolution as scientific fact.

The latest U.S. academic spat over science and religion was first reported in The Boston Globe newspaper on Friday. Gibbs Law Firm in Florida, which is representing Abraham, said he was seeking $500,000 in compensation.

The zebrafish specialist said his civil rights were violated when he was dismissed shortly after telling his superior he did not accept evolution because he believed the Bible presented a true account of human creation.

Creationists such as Abraham believe God made the world in six days, as the Bible's Book of Genesis says.

Woods Hole, a federally funded nonprofit research center on Cape Cod, said in a statement it firmly believed its actions and those of its employees in the case were "entirely lawful" and that it does not discriminate.

Abraham, who was dismissed eight months after he was hired, said he was willing to do research using evolutionary concepts but that he had been required to accept Darwin's theory of evolution as scientific fact or lose his job.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination dismissed the case this year, saying Abraham's request not to work on evolutionary aspects of research would be difficult for Woods Hole because its work is based on evolutionary theories.

Abraham said this condition was never spelled out in the advertisement for the job and that his dismissal led to severe economic losses, an injured reputation, emotional pain and suffering and mental anguish.

The case underscores tension between scientists, who see creationist views as anti-science, and evangelical Christians who argue that protections of religious freedom enshrined in the U.S. Constitution extend to scientific settings.

Abraham, 35, is now a biology professor at Liberty University, a Baptist school in Virginia founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, a Christian pastor and televangelist.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:05 PM   #2
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it's tough when science gets in the way of being a scientist, but those are the breaks, kiddo.

i'd have fired him for incompetence.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:23 PM   #3
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If your job is research, you will never be able to do your job correctly if you already have an absolute answer.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:25 PM   #4
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This sounds like a dishonest person.

Why was he ever hired?
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
... Abraham's request not to work on evolutionary aspects of research would be difficult for Woods Hole because its work is based on evolutionary theories.

Abraham said this condition was never spelled out in the advertisement for the job.
That says it all.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:27 PM   #6
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That says it all.


this falls under, "not being able to fire people for being gay is a violation of my freedom of religious expression."

which is to say lunacy.

but, hey, some of us seem to want a Theo-Democracy, so who am i to complain?

i hear lovely things about Vancouver.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:28 PM   #7
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Would a biology professor at Liberty be accepted or even hired if he/she didn't believe in Creationism? I don't know what biology classes are like there, that would certainly be interesting to learn.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:30 PM   #8
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Originally posted by Irvine511

this falls under, "not being able to fire people for being gay is a violation of my freedom of religious expression."

which is to say lunacy.

but, hey, some of us seem
Actually I think the guy sounds like an idiot. He didn't realize he'd have to do evolutionary research for an evolution institute? That's like if I told my corporate law firm that I could not represent their corporate clients because they offend me, and after all, it wasn't spelled out in the terms of my contract that I'd have to do corporate aspects of legal research in a corporate law firm.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:34 PM   #9
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Re: Christian Biologist Fired For Beliefs, Suit Says

Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
his dismissal led to... an injured reputation
No honey I think that has more to do with you believing the Genesis story as literal fact.
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:35 PM   #10
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Originally posted by anitram


Actually I think the guy sounds like an idiot. He didn't realize he'd have to do evolutionary research for an evolution institute? That's like if I told my corporate law firm that I could not represent their corporate clients because they offend me, and after all, it wasn't spelled out in the terms of my contract that I'd have to do corporate aspects of legal research in a corporate law firm.


but if you can pull out a bible and take a verse and say that it says that Jesus would hate the corporations too, you just might have a lawsuit ...
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Old 12-10-2007, 02:36 PM   #11
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Here's the Globe article

By Beth Daley, Globe Staff | December 7, 2007

The battle between science and creationism has reached the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where a former researcher is claiming he was fired because he doesn't believe in evolution.

Nathaniel Abraham filed a lawsuit earlier this week in US District Court in Boston saying that the Cape Cod research center dismissed him in 2004 because of his Christian belief that the Bible presents a true account of human creation.

Abraham, who is seeking $500,000 in compensation for a violation of his civil rights, says in the suit that he lost his job as a postdoctoral researcher in a biology lab shortly after he told his superior that he did not accept evolution as scientific fact.

"Woods Hole believes they have the right to insist on a belief in evolution," said David C. Gibbs III, one of Abraham's two attorneys and general counsel of the Christian Law Association in Seminole, Fla.

Evolution is a fundamental tenet of biology that species emerge because of genetic changes to organisms that, over time, favor their survival. Creationists reject the notion that humans evolved from apes and that life on Earth began billions of years ago, but Gibbs said Abraham "truly believes there was no conflict between religion and his job."

Woods Hole officials released a statement saying, "The Institution firmly believes that its actions and those of its employees concerning Dr. Abraham were entirely lawful," and that the center does not discriminate on the basis of religion.

In a 2004 letter to Abraham, his boss, Woods Hole senior scien tist Mark E. Hahn, wrote that Abraham said he did not want to work on "evolutionary aspects" of the National Institutes of Health grant for which he was hired, even though the project clearly required scientists to use the principles of evolution in their analyses and writing.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of cases pitting creationists against scientists in academic settings. Last year, a University of Rhode Island student was awarded a doctorate in geosciences despite opposition after it became known that he was a creationist. Earlier this year, an Iowa State University astronomer claimed he was denied tenure because he did not believe in evolution.

Like these cases, the Abraham lawsuit pointedly raises the question: Can people work in a scientific field if they don't believe in its basic tenets?

"I have a cleaning woman who is a Seventh-day Adventist and neither of us feel any tension," said Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science at Florida State University who has written extensively on creationism and evolutionary biology. "Yet, what is a person doing in an evolutionary lab when they don't believe in evolution . . . and didn't tell anybody they didn't believe in evolution?"

Abraham did not return a telephone call seeking comment. An Indian citizen, he now works at Liberty University, a Christian university in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

He has a master's degree in biology and a philosophy doctorate, both from St. John's University in New York, a university spokeswoman said. He was hired by Hahn's marine biology lab in March 2004 because of his expertise working with zebra fish and in toxicology and developmental biology, according to court documents. He did not tell anyone his creationist views before being hired. Hahn's lab, according to its website, studies how aquatic animals respond to chemical contaminants by examining ". . . mechanisms from a comparative/evolutionary perspective."

In October 2004, both agree, Abraham made a passing comment to Hahn saying he did not believe in evolution.

"My supervisor appeared angry and asked me what I meant," Abraham wrote in a 2005 complaint he filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. "My supervisor and I had a follow up meeting during which my supervisor informed me that if I do not believe in evolution, then he was paying me for only 7 to 10 percent of the work I was doing under the grant."

Abraham said he told Hahn he would do extra work to compensate and "was willing to discuss evolution as a theory."

But on Nov. 17, Hahn asked him to resign, pointing out in the letter that Abraham should have known of evolution's centrality to the project because it was evident from the job advertisement and grant proposal.

". . . You have indicated that you do not recognize the concept of biological evolution and you would not agree to include a full discussion of the evolutionary implications and interpretations of our research in any co-authored publications resulting from this work," Hahn wrote in the letter, which the commission provided to the Globe. "This position is incompatible with the work as proposed to NIH and with my own vision of how it should be carried out and interpreted."

Abraham's last day at the lab was Dec. 14, 2004.

The commission dismissed his complaint earlier this year. The commission said Abraham was terminated because his request not to work on evolutionary aspects of the project would be challenging for Woods Hole because the research was based on evolutionary theories.

But Gibbs said that Abraham, after disclosing his religious beliefs to Hahn, was subjected to a hostile work environment. "There was a systematic attempt for him to change his beliefs or resign," Gibbs said. "His life has been turned upside down by this."

Eugenie C. Scott, executive director for the National Center for Science Education, which defends the teaching of evolution in public schools, said Abraham was clearly being disingenuous when he applied for the job because he was hired to work in the field of developmental biology.

"It is inconceivable that someone working in developmental biology at a major research institution would not be expected to deal intimately with evolution," she said. "A flight school hiring instructors wouldn't ask whether they accepted that the earth was spherical; they would assume it. Similarly, Woods Hole would have assumed that someone hired to work in developmental biology would accept that evolution occurred. It's part and parcel of the science these days."
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