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NASA Versus David Coppedge: Most Reprehensible Case of Anti-Intelligent Design Persecution Yet?


Of all the cases we’ve covered here where scientists and others have been persecuted for sharing ideas favorable to intelligent design, what happened to David Coppedge is arguably the most reprehensible. That’s partly because Coppedge, working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as a team lead on the Cassini Mission to Saturn, wasn’t a PhD scientist with the space agency. He was a computer administrator, albeit a senior one, and therefore by definition a less powerful, more vulnerable player in the science world.

Another aggravating factor: His “offense” was not public (like, for example, the scientists whose stories are told in the film Expelled), in the sense of publishing or teaching about ID at a university or museum. In those instances, you could at least say that the persecutors acted on behalf of their cause, materialism. No, this was strictly private, and thus gratuitously cruel. Coppedge loaned out documentaries on DVD, highlighting relevant scientific evidence of design in biology and cosmology, to willing colleagues. That’s it! That’s all he did.

In a series of podcasts on ID the Future, Coppedge tells his own story for the first time (outside of a courtroom context). The series concludes now with a third and final episode. Listen to it by clicking here.

As he approached retirement age, for his mild-mannered and entirely private advocacy, Mr. Coppedge was disciplined, demoted, shamed, and finally, after he sued over this indefensible treatment, fired. Completing the drama, in a five-week anti-discrimination lawsuit, a California Superior Court judge sided with JPL’s team of high-paid lawyers, shortly after which Coppedge was diagnosed with cancer.

You must hear about all of this now. It’s a David versus Goliath story, except that here, Goliath creamed David and walked away. Taking advantage of his vulnerability, David Coppedge’s supervisors sought to hurt and silence him. They succeeded. And that, by fear of career and personal ruin, is how the scientific “consensus” against ID is maintained.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



David CoppedgeFilms and Videointelligent designJet Propulsion LaboratoryLaw and CourtsNASA