Can’t We Call It “Credentials Discrimination?”

The latest front in the war against science — Wood’s Hole:

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.

Not that this is an altogether isolated incident.

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?

Hmmm… let’s try this one on for size. Can people work in a scientific field if they believe in — other, more traditional tenets?

Why shouldn’t you become a medical doctor, just because you believe that illness is a result of imbalance in the bodily humours (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood)?

Want to specialize in psychiatry? Why let your belief in demon possession as the cause of madness get in your way?

Or perhaps you can dream of that physics Nobel when, as a rocket scientist, you figure out how to navigate among the celestial spheres.

The list could go on, but don’t call me sacrilegious. That would be insulting my religion, by conflating it with ancient worldviews and rendering it fit only for a museum.

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