We’ve previously reported on the case of Martin Gaskell (here, here, here), an astronomer who was denied a job at the University of Kentucky (UK) due to perceived sympathy for “creationism.” In reality. Gaskell is no creationist, and calls himself an “old earth theistic evolutionist” who has “no trouble with the natural selection process.”
Gaskell alarmed the Darwinian thought police at UK because in online notes from a talk, he favorably cites the works of proponents of intelligent design like Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson, and states, “there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory,” and “these problems are bigger than is usually made out in introductory geology/biology courses.” In his deposition testimony he further stated that “when it comes to trying to explain everything, and particularly the origin of life … we just don’t have any satisfactory theory.”
In this case, however, what Gaskell actually believes is less important than what the UK thought he believed, and why UK denied him the job. As the court found, there was evidence that UK denied him the job because of his perceived views on “biology and religion.” Apparently Eugenie Scott thinks that such apparent doubts about the Darwinian consensus justified UK in denying Gaskell the job:
Pro-evolution advocates say the university was well within its rights. “It’s an employment law case,” says Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, an organization in Oakland, California, that lobbies to preserve the teaching of evolution in public schools. “Can an employer discriminate based on the scientific knowledge of an employee?” she asks. “Well, yeah.”
(Eugenie Scott quoted in Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, “Court to Weigh University’s Decision Not to Hire Astronomer,” Science, Vol. 330:1731 (December 24, 2010).)
Scott is right about one thing: this is an employment law case. Two of the questions at stake in this case are:
1. Can a university deny a scientist a job simply because they believe he holds scientific doubts about the neo-Darwinian consensus?
2. Does a university have the right to discriminate against a job applicant based upon his perceived religious affiliation?
It would seem that Eugenie Scott thinks the answer to both questions is, “Well, yeah.”