In the post below Dr. Dembski brought the Abraham case to our attention and asked whether it is legitimate to fire an employee merely because of his beliefs as opposed to his job performance. The discussion rapidly deteriated into speculation about possible reasons Woods Hole might have terminated Abraham for poor performance. All of those speculations are idle and beside the point. Dr. Dembski asked, “Is it legitimate to fire someone because of their beliefs?” It is simply no answer to that question to say, “Well maybe they fired him for reasons other than his beliefs.”
The purpose of this post is to attempt to focus the discussion back on the issue Dr. Dembski raised, which is a very profound issue in my view.
A copy of Abrham’s federal court complaint is here. I would like to focus on the following sworn allegations:
16. Plaintiff’s work with Defendants focused on zebrafish developmental biology, toxicology and programmed cell death areas of reseach which required no acceptance, or application of , the theory of evolution as scientific fact.
17. Plaintiff at all times, before his employment began while helping to design and construct the lab and during his employment, performed exemplary work and was often praised and commended by [his supervisor] and other staff members for the quality of his research, commitment and scientific presentations.
20. Plaintiff assured Defendants that he was willing to analyze aspects of his research using evolutionary concepts if warranted . . . but his sincerely held religous belief did not allow him to accept the theory of evolution as a scientific fact.
30. Plaintiff was fired even though acceptance of evolution as scientific fact rather than theory (in contravention of his sincerely held religious beliefs) was in no way a bona fide occupational qualification of employment, was not previously mentioned or implied as a requisite for hiring, and was never listed among necessary critera for the advertised position by Defendants.
I am not saying these sworn allegations are true. We do not know if Abraham will be able to prove them at trial. However, in order to focus the discussion on the issue Dr. Dembski raised, all commenters to this thread should assume for the sake of argument that the sworn allegations are in fact true.
The debate question for this post is: “Assuming paragraphs 16, 17, 20 and 30 of Abraham’s complaint are true, Woods Hole’s termination of Abraham was wrong.”