Terminated employee claims bias against intelligent design
NASA's Cassini space probe snapped this photo of jets spewing from Saturn's moons.
March 13th, 2012
10:08 PM ET

Terminated employee claims bias against intelligent design

By Stan Wilson, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - A former veteran systems administrator for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory claimed during opening arguments in a civil lawsuit Tuesday that he was wrongfully terminated for expressing his views on intelligent design.

David Coppedge, who spent 15 years on the Cassini Mission, one of NASA and JPL's most ambitious planetary space explorations, asserts that he was unlawfully fired under his employer's anti-harassment and ethics policies. JPL contends Coppedge created a hostile workplace while expressing his religious views with co-workers.

His suit also claims that supervisors wrongly admonished him for distributing DVD documentary films titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" and "The Privileged Planet," which present biological and cosmological explanations for intelligent design, according to the complaint.

Coppedge claims he never forcibly compelled colleagues to accept his idea of intelligent design in the workplace. Intelligent design is a conviction that life is too complex to have developed solely through evolution and that the universe was designed by an intelligent entity.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

JPL, based in Pasadena, California, is one of the world's most prestigious institutions for scientific research and development institutions. In Coppedge's civil lawsuit, he describes JPL's space missions as designed, in part, to explore the origin of the universe, uncover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe - or is improbably confined to earth - and whether conditions necessary for life to exist reside elsewhere in the universe.

Launched in October 1997, the Cassini mission to Saturn included a sophisticated robotic spacecraft that orbited the ringed planet and provided streams of data about its rings, magnetosphere, moon Titan and icy satellites. Cassini was the largest interplanetary mission ever launched, with the largest technical staff and participation of 18 countries.

In his role, Coppedge was responsible for making technical and scientific recommendations to management and developing presentations about various technical capabilities of new systems and upgrades, his attorney William Becker Jr. said during opening arguments. During his tenure, Coppedge developed a "sincere interest in the scientific evidence behind life's origin," which led to his conviction about "intelligent design."

Coppedge shared the view that life and the existence of the universe derived not from "undirected material processes," but from "intelligent cause," said attorney Becker.

In March 2009, Coppedge claims that his supervisor advised him that co-workers had complained that he was harassing them over debates about his religious views and coercing them in the workplace into watching DVD programs about intelligent design. During his opening statements Tuesday, attorney Becker Jr. told a judge hearing the case that Coppedge's supervisor threatened him with termination if he "pushed his religion" and ordered Coppedge to refrain from discussing politics or religion with anyone in the office.

During that 2009 meeting, Coppedge alleges, his supervisor became angry and belligerent asserting that "intelligent design is religion" and ordered him to stop. "The tone of the meeting and conduct were abusive and constituted harassment," his attorney said in court.

JPL spokeswoman Veronica McGregor said the lawsuit "is completely without merit, and we intend to vigorously fight the allegations raised by Mr. Coppedge."

In their response to the civil suit, attorneys for JPL stated in court documents that one of Coppedge's co-workers complained to his supervisor that Coppedge made her feel so uncomfortable in discussing "non work related topics" that it bordered on harassment. The supervisor encouraged Coppedge to limit his discussions about topics like religion and politics to periods like lunch breaks, according to the response.

The documents state that other co-workers complained they also felt harassed when Coppedge expressed views in favor of California Proposition 8, the ballot initiative in 2010 that defined marriage between and man and woman.

"David Coppedge alienated his co-workers by the way he acted with them, and blamed anyone who complained about those interactions," according to JPL in their response. "He accuses his former project supervisor and line manager of making discriminatory and retaliatory employment decision, when they had in fact protected him for years."

JPL alleged that Coppedge "was seen as stubborn, unwilling to listen and always having to do things his way, which frustrated project members and resulted in errors."

Coppedge was demoted after eight years as lead systems administrator and terminated last year. He cited those actions as a factor in basis for his suit claiming religious discrimination, retaliation, harassment and wrongful demotion.

JPL has denied Coppedge's termination complaint, contending he was among 246 employees laid off as part of a downsizing plan that affected 300 staffers.

"JPL complies with all applicable state and federal employment laws including laws governing freedom of expression," said JPL spokeswoman McGregor.

California Institute of Technology operates JPL, which is federally funded under a contract with NASA. Scientists are employed by the Caltech.

The case has generated interest among advocates of intelligent design. The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian civil rights group, and the Discovery Institute, a proponent of intelligent design, are supporting Coppedge's lawsuit. The National Center for Science Education, which supports the teaching of evolution in public education, is closely monitoring the case.

Coppedge is seeking damages for wrongful termination, including attorney fees. The nonjury trial is expected to last four weeks.

*An earlier headline for this article identified David Coppedge as a scientist. His attorney later said that despite his technical work with computers, he is not a scientist.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Culture & Science • Science

soundoff (2,244 Responses)
  1. clearfog

    Scientists should be allowed, nay encouraged, to express their belief in Intelligent Design. That way, we will know who to fire.

    March 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • cbinal

      If that were the case they would have got rid of the man that built the rocket that sent us to the moon. In case you need a hint that was Wernher Von Braun. I drive by the Saturn V Rocket he invented every day.

      March 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • TR6

      @cbinal:”If that were the case they would have got rid of the man that built the rocket that sent us to the moon. In case you need a hint that was Wernher Von Braun.”

      You mean that wonderful Christian that created the V2 rocket which Germany used so effectively to indiscriminately slaughter British civilians (who, by the way, were mostly Christian) in WWII?

      If you do a bit of research you will discover that WVB did not invent the Saturn V rocket in the same way that Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb. It was in fact created by a vast team on scientist and engineers.

      March 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • cbinal

      @TR6 Yes I know that personally. I lived next door to one on his team. And he also defected to the US when he found out what that insane man intended to do with th V2.

      March 14, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  2. asdf

    Funny how this guy claims he was fired for believing in ID, yet he worked for NASA. Can't imagine how that could come up naturally, since they have nothing to do with one another

    March 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • cbinal

      There are lots of people that work for NASA and NASA contractors that are Christians. I've known PHDs that work for NASA that are Christians and believe in Intelligent Design.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • clearfog

      "There is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact… hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design.” For example, there is Nobel prize holder Mr. . . . , give me a minute, his name is on the tip of my pin head. Michelle, that you?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Heroicslug

      Anyone holding a Ph.D. that believes in Intelligent Design should have their Ph.D. invalidated.

      It's like a doctor saying he thinks bloodletting is a valid medical technique.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • TR6

      @Heroicslug:”Anyone holding a Ph.D. that believes in Intelligent Design should have their Ph.D. invalidated.”

      It’s amazing what you can get a Ph.D. in these days, culinary science, waste management and French art history for examples. There probably are many Ph.D. I.D. freaks. The real question is how many of them have so much as an A.A. in a hard science?

      March 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Scientist

      cbinal– hopefully those scientists don't have anything to do with biology.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  3. Rod in Texas

    1. God doesn't exist so his argument makes him a loon and 2. He better be glad he works for JPL in California and not NASA in Texas because here in Texas, you can be fired because your boss doesn't like that you have blue eyes. Texas is an at will state and can fire you for any reason. Sure, they'll have to pay you unemployment but what's that....$400 a week?

    March 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Jimi

      Only a fool says in his heart that their is no God. Where's your proof to that claim? Talk is cheap.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • clearfog

      Only fools talk with their heart. Intelligent people use their brain.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Jimi

      Maybe that's your problem.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  4. dr. d

    Let's be clear about one thing – Coppedge is NOT a "scientist." He is a computer system administrator. He is in no way deserving of the headline descriptor "NASA scientist." He 9is also a nutcase.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  5. Noah Tall

    He's probably already been offered an IT job at the Creation Museum or at the Discovery Inst'itute. He might enjoy living in Kentucky or Seattle more anyway. I wonder what he'll choose that he knows-it-all about to proselytize those new coworkers?!

    March 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Maybe he can program the animatronic dinosaurs at Ken Ham's pretend museum?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  6. doug

    Good philosophy. If you can't turn a person to Jesus through your testimony, try it through a lawsuit.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Cognite intrare

      March 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    Judging by the reaction to yesterday's story about a company not allowing religious baubles to be worn outside of the uniform combined with this story, it seems that certain Christians think they should be allowed to dress up as the pope and prosthelytize in the workplace without any possible reprisal from their employers.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • cbinal

      What's up Doc! I left my Pope uniform at home today. Have to remember to wear it tomorrow.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " they should be allowed to dress up as the pope "

      Great! So now instead of just a few dozen crotchety old fat white guys dressing like Granny Clampett, now it will be millions!

      March 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  8. cbinal

    I've read this story and many of you guys posts over the past few months on the Beliefs stories and keep hearing these same statements when discussing Christians: "pushed" and "shoved down our throats". This seems to be a relevent story to bring it up in. Explain when is the Bible, religion, Christianity pushed or shoved down your throat? I have been in many situations where people easily say "I don't want to hear about your God" and walk off. I have even closed my door in the face of others trying to push what I believe is a false religion – it didn't hurt me any. But, I have never seen anyone physically restrained and forced to listen to Christianity. Although, I have been in many classroom situations where I was forced to learn Evolution and give the answers that they wanted to hear if I wanted to pass the class. And I have been on the oppossite end, that this guys proposes happened, where I was falsely accused of harrassing a co-worker because I had a plaque of the Footprints Poem on my wall and a Bible on my desk – she was offended by that. Any good stories?

    March 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Chuckles


      So the thing is, when you see someone say they don't want the bible, christianity or any theology pushed down their throats, it's not only because of the constant annoyance of dealing with people walking up to my door, people on the side of the street, coworkers, etc.. all trying to spread the gospel and not realizing how annoying or insulting it is because in their minds spreading the gospel is the nicest thing you could do. The real problem is when christians have tried to change laws based on their own religion and morals to compel the rest of the country to follow. To swing back to your main point, going to public school and learning about evolution is not comparable as evolution along with everything else science related is backed up with facts and experiments. if you listened to evolution and school and disagreed with it on purely religious reasons, that's not good enough to then try and get it out of the classroom. If, on the other hand, your teacher wanted you to answer a specific aspect of evolution and you had hard, solid evidence to the contrary. that's a different story altogether.

      The main issue in this story among others is that most christians demand the right to publicly display their religion, tell people about it and try to get them to convert and yet want to demand equally that every other religion out there doesn't get those same rights. A christian shouldn't feel their religion is under attack if they can't wear something on their chest or if they work at a place devoted to science and can't talk about ID

      March 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Chuckles "If, on the other hand, your teacher wanted you to answer a specific aspect of evolution and you had hard, solid evidence to the contrary. that's a different story altogether."
      No That's not true. All they want is the answer they are looking for, the one you were told to give them. For example, when I was in school in the late 70s, early 80s there was no doubt that the Universe was 28 Billion years old, any other answer would be wrong. But, after the Hubble Telescope goes up – woops we were wrong the Universe is without a doubt 14 billion years old. Make sense?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Yes, that's science for you. It might be frustrating because it's wrong sometimes and constantly changing, but does that mean we should stop teaching it in favor of pure religious conjecture just because it's more palatable and won't ever change? Not too long ago there were 9 planets, now there are 8 does that mean we should stop learning about the planets in our solar system because maybe one day another will get demoted or a couple will get promoted?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Scientist

      cbinal– Nuances and our ability to refine our measurements help us to adjust our understanding. Whether 28b or 14b, doesn't dispute the big bang theory. If you have hard evidence that disputes evolution, by all means please bring it to our attention.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • fred

      And God has revealed himself to man in different ways as man was able to comprehend God. Initially we have Neanderthal putting stuff in with their dead and it assumed it was some kind of ritual due to worship or the hereafter. Then we have God being in the lightning, volcano or earthquake. There is the teaching and instructions of the chosen ones that was passed on by oral tradition. Moses later put it in writing then 1,400 years later Jesus revealed in person the most important attributes of God carrying and said he must go and we should wait until we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit today indwells these believers and reveals all truth. Each believer is becoming part of an organism that will have God at its center. Avatar the movie had a good visualization of this with that tree of life unifying all.
      My point is Science is moving towards greater understanding as is our understanding of God. The pattern of expansion and growth in the species and the universe seems much the same as our growth and understanding of God. Zeus has been exposed and the infinite attribute of God revealed.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Scientist

      Fred– I agree with you. However when a belief (no evidence or proof, only faith) supercedes science based on multiple lines of evidence suggesting truth, faith must give way. Otherwise, it is faith in a falsehood that cannot build hope and becomes corrupt. In this case, ID is a manmade construct (no evidence scientifically or biblically) and is used to undermine a well-established scientific principal.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Chuckles and Scientist – You guys all miss the point. I'm not saying teach intelligent design or religion. I wouldn't want you guys to attempt either, you would get it wrong. The point is you speak of things as FACT and then something changes by 14 BILLION YEARS in a distance of 347 miles from the Earth observation to Orbit, and you just say OH well that's science for ya. Lets push it out another 347 miles does it go down to 7 billion years? Meaning: quit teaching theory as fact and tell everyone it's a THEORY. Otherwise you guys are the ones lying to people. Your proof of evolution exists in a few bone fragments in boxes in a lab – you own "Real" Scientists admit that. And by the way I believe in the "A" Big Bang Theory, God spoke and Bang it happened.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Hmmm and here I thought you might be able to understand. I know that the word "theory" trips a lot of christians up because to them when you call something a theory that's code for "not real, don't tell me about it until it becomes fact". Here's the deal, Yes, it used to be 28 billion years, now it's 14 billion but that's not on whims of scientists who just want to screw with the common everyday man, it's when certain evidence comes to light and we have to revise our understanding. That's not a bad thing buddy,.
      Furthermore, Evolution isn't something scientist disagree on, I mean why get a flu shot every year if there was no such thing. What is in contention is the "how" exactly we came from single-celled organisms, and there are many different theories on how that happened, but not IF that happened? Get it? The evidence for evolution is more than bones, but clearly you were so hellbent on not learning in school in favor of your own mumbo jumbo you decided to ignore the overwhelming amount of evidence that we have and are finding more everyday.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Scientist

      cbinal– Verifiable evidence of evolution is rampant. The field of biology today is based on evolution and to deny evolution suggests you understand nothing of biology (paraphrasing Dobzhanski). Thousands of experiments have independently confirmed genetic changes in microorganisms in response to environmental stress. However, I do agree with you that ID is more closely aligned with religion. Why would God design an appendix or a tailbone if it weren't necessary? The implications are either that God made errors, was unable to design us without them, or didn't mind if thousands suffered appendicitis (either way discrediting God). I stated this before, ID is offensive to both science and religion.

      March 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Scientist Again you guys spew out stuff you hear and do not know. What you call microbiological evolution I have no problem with. I have a problem with them using the word evolution. It is normal responses of cells, has always happened always will. Big deal nothing new. Short term stuff, no new species from it. And the Appendix thing? Really? So, just because Science doesn't know what it does God made a mistake? There have been lots of "Scientific Theories" on what an appendix does. And I've had an Appendectomy and my digestive system and blood pressure has changed. And I can tell you it lets you know its there when its infected. You can live without a Gall Bladder does that mean it doesn't do anything? Of course not. Besides Adam lived to 930 years old – maybe the appendix served a different purpose. Point again – if science doesn't have an explanation then it must be useless.

      March 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Chuckles


      I honestly don't understand how you can talk about mircoevolution, understand that it's perfectly normal for cells to evolve into something new to fit in with its environment and still somehow reject evolution in general. But we'll ignore that by the fact that its not just fossils that give us insight into evolution, it's blood, its genetics, it's similarities and differences. Why is that so tough to understand? Do you not see the similarities between say, an ape and a human? Do you reject evolution because christianity tells you so or do you have a valid theory that is different and can be backed up with evidence?

      As for the appendix, it's not that scientists "theorize" that it is useless, it just is. It doesn't have any direct effect on the human system other than the negative aspect of getting appendicitis and killing you. You say that you've have an appendectomy and yet you're still alive, which leads us to understand that.... wait for it.... it wasn't doing anything to keep you alive. For instance the intestines, the heart, the lungs, the liver, at least one kidney, ect... all directly affect whether you live or die. If one of those organs fail or is removed, you're 6 feet under. Get your appendix removed and if anything, you're better off for it.

      March 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Chuckles Man you can't be serious with that argument. Ever had an appendectomy? My body is different. Back to your line of thinking and my Gall Bladder example. You can live without a Gall Bladder does that make it useless? Are you better off without it? Say that to practically anyone whose had a gall bladder removed. You might get punched. Ask them how many times they've had a "accident" after it was removed. Anything that's in your body that can get infected can kill you, it doesn't have to be a major organ. There's a purpose, scientist may not know right now, but it has nothing to do with Evolution.

      March 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Scientist

      cbinal– acclimation is the word for short-term response to environmental change. Acclimation is determined by the expression of genes. Adaptation is longer-term response and involves the change within the gene itself for optimal performance under the experienced stress. This adaptation (evolution) results in a change in the organism's DNA. The principle is the same for bacteria and humans alike.

      March 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Ann Ecdotal

      cbinal – "Are you better off without it? Say that to practically anyone whose had a gall bladder removed. You might get punched."

      I know 4 people very well who have had their gall bladders removed (brother, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, & a close friend). I have asked them all if there is any difference. They all said, "No... other than no more attacks of pain". Not one of them punched me.

      March 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Ann I agree not everyone is the same. Some feel better and no problems. But others like my wife, brother, and a couple others I know say they have to be careful what they eat and very aware of where the bathrooms are. Some things that they used to eat and have no problem with goes right through. I've had a gall bladder test.where they stimulate the bile.. not fun.

      March 14, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • cbinal

      But again point being it serves a purpose.It's not something that evolution will make disappear some day

      March 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  9. Kafir

    Clearly, people fail to realize that ID is not testable in any way.

    It is a veiled Argumentum ad Ignorantiam fallacy, as I will demonstrate:

    The Argument from Ignorance takes on the form "I do not know how X, therefore Y"
    Essentially it draws a conclusion from a failure to understand a phenomena. Nay, it FORCES a conclusion.

    Intelligent design is basically stating "I do not know how this mechanism could've evolved on its own (X), therefore, intelligent design (Y).

    But, you cannot test that something is NOT true, because that would be an attempt to prove a negative (like proving the invisible pink unicorn doesn't exist), and ID is basically stating X cannot be true (because I don't yet know how it could be). Science can only test positive claims (I believe X is true through mechanism Y), not negative claims (I believe X can never be true because I don't see how it could be).

    That's why intelligent design will never be science.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Less Bias

      Very well stated. Unfortunately, you're preaching to the choir. Most of the folks who believe in ID quit reading as soon as you said "ID is not testable in any way." After all, they're only interested in information that supports their idea. Case in point: They believe in ID despite the fact that not one, single piece of evidence has been found in support of it, and not one single experiment has provided any proof for it.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Actually, when you said "ID is not testable in any way" the ID folks heard you saying "You can't disprove ID in any way."

      March 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jimi

      There would be no science or anything else unless there was an intelligent designer. Don't believe the hype of man, they will always fail you.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Less Bias

      Following that logic, I declare that an intelligent-er designer created your intelligent designer. After all, if the intelligence of man demands a designer, then surely an even more intelligent being (one capable of creating the universe) would also require a designer. Right?

      March 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  10. Borrowed time

    I'm a staunch supporter of intelligent design, but I would have fired him too. It is not appropriate to push your viewpoints onto others in the work place. That's just not acceptable.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Yet, it is acceptable to push your beliefs by taking them door-to-door in the neighborhood?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  11. gager

    I had a job where a person was pushing a religion and was eventually fired after repeated warnings.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  12. lunchbreaker

    What would be funny is if one of his previous subordiantes sued him for harassment.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  13. CJ

    This is story is further proof of the poisoning power possessed by the faithful. While they talk of 'inner peace' and 'humility' they always seek to push their way into the public discourse and very often into your personal lives. Which is why you will not find scientists knocking on your door to ask if you have 'found evolution'. The faithful cannot let the rest of the world alone. Which is not surprising since thought crime, apostasy or even coveting, is punishable by death in the scriptures. What someone believes on their own is a matter for the community to approve or disapprove. The sooner religion takes its place alongside astrology, the better.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • CJ

      And another thing to notice. This guy is not doing scientific 'studies' to show the truth of his claim and publishing them and submitting them for peer review. He is pushing DVDs to co-workers and making a court case of this to try and establish the validity of his beliefs.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Scientist

      Some might argue that astrology is a religion

      March 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Maff

      you sound like a fool. evolution is a theory. Just like intelligent design. Its not a fact my friend. No one has to knock on any door about evolution. Why? It is taught in school...as if its fact, when its not. No one has ever knocked on my door with ID either. It is a theory...developed by–SCIENTISTS. But since you personally dont like the possibility that your comfortable world view could be wrong, you rely on science (as far as it can take you) and theories (that dont challenge your world view).
      The FACTS are, that you dont know the origins of life, or anything that exists. Science has failed to inform you, but they have provided you with theories. ID is one of them you not to like, based purely on personal reasons.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • CJ

      Perhaps, but we do not feel the need to listen to them or respect their views when it comes to educational curricula. Or with regard to their views on other peoples romantic practices. A politician who during a debate feels that the government should interfere with two people getting married because 'a pisces and ares couple is an abomination' would soon find themselves in a new industry.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Scientist

      CJ– I agree

      March 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • CJ

      Maff. Wow. You clearly did not learn a thing about the world in however many partial years of education you obtained. Evolution is a theory in the same way that the sun centered model of the solar system is a theory. It makes predictions and is confirmed by observation. Science has taught us extraordinary truths about this universe – from what composes matter (atomic physics), to the great variety and forms of life (evolution) to medicine (germ theory of disease). Religion was utterly mute on these topics which is why we had the new testament for centuries and people still thought leprosy was due to spiritual uncleanliness. It took science to explain it was a micro-organism. And cure it.

      Try to get out of the 1200s and join us. And go back to school because you really missed a lot.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Give references and sources for your assertion that Intelligent Design is a scientific theory. I see you stating that again and again, so give some sort of references for that. Also if it is a scientific theory, then how is it proposed that we scientifically test the validity of it?

      March 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Discovery Inst/itute staff are NOT SCIENTISTS.
      ID is not a scientific theory.
      A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.
      There are 5 laws in the Theory of Evolution.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Nonimus

      ID is not a theory in same way evolution is. Evolution is a scientific theory that explains how the natural world works and is supported by facts, observation, laws, and repeated testing. ID has none of that.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Scientist

      Maff– ID was actually resurrected by about half a dozen scientists and was originally inspired by William Paley around 1800 (he was the one who came up with the watchmaker analogy). About 59 years later, Darwin published his theory and other than a bit of a rough start, scientists (other than those half dozen) have not looked back. I appreciate your comments in that it does illustrate that a few bad apples...

      March 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • fred

      The reason most scientists do not follow ID is because those who know God know he cannot be found rather God reveals to us those attriutes we can comprehend. Those who do not know God understand that scientific tools are not designed to test the things of God. Scientist that are intellectally honest cannot be atheist only agnostic or believers.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Scientist

      Fred– No, the reason 99.9% of scientists disagree with ID is because it is based on flawed logic, a misunderstanding of the theory of evolution, and has no scientific basis whatsoever.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      "Scientist that are intellectally honest cannot be atheist only agnostic or believers."

      How in the name of ________________ does this make any kind of sense to you? Do you even truly understand the concept of atheism and agnosticism?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Kevin


      "evolution is a theory." Perhaps but it is a theory that has real world proof behind it. For example: MRSA and the other antibiotic resistant bacteria.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Kim

      Goodness, gracious!
      I read all these posts and just read arrogant ignorance.

      You all know full well that evolution and origins of life are different topics and will have much better grounds arguing evolution, because we see micro-evolution all the time.
      We have yet to see any real evidence of macro-evolution...and you know that some of the research that claimed to has since been shown to be wrong.
      Even National Geographic has said so.
      But origins of life? Now let's talk.
      Where is this mythical slime we came from? Where are these protiens that can be produced individually in a test-tube but create no linking parts? Where is this dust particle that was nothing and created all the mass we

      March 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • fred

      Let me rephrase; Scientists who are intellectually honest cannot say God does not exist only that they have no evidence to base their decision upon or that God exists by faith in what cannot be seen.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Dust particle creating all mass? Slime with proteins? What are you talking about?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Kim

      You don't have to believe in God. But you should at least be honest and know that one who believes in the forensic science of origins of life has to have as much faith in the person asserting the theory as one has to have believing God was the witness to the event and told man kind how the world came about in simplistic terms. Afterall, it is not a science book!!

      March 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Huh?

      "But you should at least be honest and know that one who believes in the forensic science of origins of life has to have as much faith in the person asserting the theory as one has to have believing God was the witness to the event and told man kind how the world came about in simplistic terms. Afterall, it is not a science book!!"

      So what created your god?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      "Let me rephrase; Scientists who are intellectually honest cannot say God does not exist only that they have no evidence to base their decision upon .

      Ummmm fred, you just described a standard atheists point of view.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Noah Tall


      It's micro+micro+micro+micro+micro+micro+micro x hundreds+hundreds+hundreds of thousands of years. That's all.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Noah Tall

      ... that was in reference to your "macro" evolution statement.

      March 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Scientist

      Kim– 1) ID has nothing to do with the origin of life (nor does evolution). 2) "Over the course of evolutionary history, snakes have lost legs, cavefish have lost vision, and parasitic bacterium have lost the ability to live independently in the wild, all in an effort to become better adapted to their environments." –Michael Behe. 3) National geographic...really?

      March 14, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The scientific process requires meticulous docu/mentation of every step taken in an experiment so that anybody and everybody else can repeat the tests and get the same results.
      Scientific conclusions must be testable and repeatable.
      A hypothesis becomes a theory when mulitple groups of detached scientists have repeated the experiments and attained the same results.
      FAITH is not a part of the scientific method – there is no belief in the unprovable. Science invites – indeed encourages – skepticism. That's why scientists have to publish their papers for peer review!
      If you bother to, you can repeat teh processes yourself and see if the theory is sound – YOURSELF.
      No faith required.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • kso

      @ kim, look up stromatolites on wikipedia and the rest of the internet. 3.4 billion years old. and they're not even the first.
      then go look up the murcheson meteorite. it sits in the chicago field museum, i've been there to see it. it is the meteorite in which we confirmed the organic building blocks that led to life are common across the universe and specifically didn't originate singularly on this planet. 1960's era stuff. cerealzly.

      March 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Kim

      @Hawaii guest.
      With all due respect.
      People who are honest about the function of forensic science and the orgin of life theories and know the real debate, know exactly what I am talking about.
      Everyone else is just spouting off what their teachers and news magazines are telling them to spout off.
      Sad really. It shuts down all debate of ideas. The neo-materialist science reminds me greatly of the catholic church repressing true science discovery.
      A true learner hears all ideas, even the nutty ones.

      March 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Q

      @Kim – Fine. Just develop the methods for empirically testing the non-materialist alternatives. Maybe you'll have better luck than the complete failures of the current field of ID luminaries. Good luck w/ that...

      March 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Scientist

      Kim– It isn't that we don't hear the ID side of the debate. There just isn't an ID side. No evidence of ID, no scientific basis for ID, no testable hypothesis for ID. I really don't know where the debate can start.

      March 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  14. John

    For Mr. Coppedge to become employed within the scientific arena at NASA and argue their doctrine is akin to a vegetarian working for the beef industry and opening challenging their butcher methods.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Funny you should mention that:

      "DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Senate voted 40-10 Tuesday to approve a bill designed to protect Iowa agriculture from secret 'gotcha' videotaping of conditions inside animal production facilities."

      March 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force.
    There are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.
    Critics of Intelligent Falling point out that gravity is a provable law based on empirical observations of natural phenomena. Evangelical physicists, however, insist that there is no conflict between Newton's mathematics and Holy Scripture.
    Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work. What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.
    Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity and they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus."

    – shamelessly ripped off from The Onion

    March 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      I love the onion. Good rip-off and post. Applies well to this article.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • CJ

      Dude (or dudette) . That is awesome. As a fan of the The Onion I admit that I missed that piece. Beautifully and intelligently scathing of the religious noise that all too frequently tries to interject itself into this world and to the legitimate advancement in human knowledge that is science. Which made possible every computer that every person is currently using to type comments on.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • LouAZ

      “Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” – Robert A Heinlein, Author.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      LouAZ, Heinlein is my favorite writer.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Gravity is a LIE!
      The Onion is funded by left wing radicals that will let Sharia Law invade our country!

      Don't let your children fall for the gravity propaganda! Keep your spirits UP with God!


      March 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  16. John

    There is no direct evidence of intelligent design. Einstein believed in a god of nature so to speak. The clock maker of the universe that is unknowable by us, yet we are all so sure our version is the right one:)

    March 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  17. LouAZ

    If he got fired . . . it must be his god's will. He should take it up with his god, not JPL.
    Or . . . he should get a different god . . . one that will take better care of him.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      HA, nice, LouAZ. Well said.

      Now we really hope he doesn't win any sort of legal battle...if he does, it will "all of have been part of god's masterful plan." If he looses, then "god is showing me other paths." Certaintists are slippery when wrong.

      March 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  18. BucketDrop

    Makes me happy that JPL was able to weed this guy out of their ranks. Nothing so annoying as a "certaintist" spouting their dogma, especially when that "certaintist" is your supervisor who has a formalized power over you. It would be even worse in a science-heavy workplace such as JPL. Bravo JPL. I hope your legal team is able to take this former employee's team apart.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  19. Kreslev

    I left out a portion. I meant to say "I know people in many of those professions who believe in God and are quite good at what they do.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  20. RBSG

    Intelligent Design is a can of worms. Once you go there, then you have to answer lots of questions

    Which designer(s)? Yahweh, Allah, Shiva, Olorun....or perhaps another one of the thousands of gods mentioned in all the other mythologies?

    And why would we have evidence of what is designed but no actual evidence of the existence of the designer? Is the designer dead? Did they design themselves out of the picture?

    March 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Nii

      let me help u! Shiva is out because he is not a creator of the universe. Allah, YHWH n Olorun are syncretic as they are all ethical n creator of the universe. Science is there to ask n answer questions so if ID will make us do that then it is stimulating to research rather than limiting.

      March 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Avdin

      That is the claim of inteligent design, that there IS evidence of a designer. It doesn't claim evolution is false or that science in general is always wrong. It just claims that the scientific data points to more than just chance.

      March 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Oh, but just look around. PROOF of God's existence is all around you!!!!

      ..... OK, just joking ..... all I see around me is a monitor, a keyboard, and my office. That is evidence of the existence of HP, Logitech and Staples...

      March 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • RBSG

      "It just claims that the scientific data points to more than just chance."

      But...scientific data *doesn't* point to more than just chance. That's the issue against ID.

      March 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Maff

      Intelligent design is pushed by religious people, but it was discovered by scientists. Its not mythology. It is based on science. I personally dont think you have to be a scientist to know everything didnt just pop into existence. And if it did, science has failed to explain how. There are so many different theories that you science heads place your faith in, you might as well believe in mythology. science takes you so far, then you are left with the same questions...everytime. You rely on others to think up theories. One of those theories is intelligent design. Why single it out as the only wrong one

      March 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • LouAZ

      There has got to be a God; the world could not have become so f*_ked up by chance alone. – Edward Abbey

      March 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Himnot

      Maybe the Designer is really a Artist and he is sitting back admiring his CREATION 😉

      March 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Intelligent Design is NOT a scientific theory.
      It is biblical Creationism dressed up in pseudo-scientific jargon.
      Professor Behe, who elucidated the terminology, has had his assertions decimated by scientists – IN COURT no less.
      The prime proponents of ID are the fine folk at the Discovery Inst/itute who openly admit that they purpose is NOT to teach what they think is true, but rather to use ID as a "wedge to defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies" and to separate science from it's allegiance to "atheistic naturalism".
      They fear that teaching FACTS and critical thinking skills will drive people away from religion.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "And if it did, [just pop into existence,] science has failed to explain how."
      I don't think science is saying that anything "just pop into existence." But you are correct that science does not currently know the details of how the universe began. There are some promising hypotheses, but little or no evidence, as yet. That does not, however, provide any support for Creationism or ID, they still need to make their own case for their hypothesis.

      "One of those theories is intelligent design. Why single it out as the only wrong one..."
      It's not actually a scientific theory, that's why. There is really no science behind the concept of ID, just a bunch of wishful thinking. "It's too complex to have happened by chance" is not evidence by itself.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Matt wrote, " Intelligent design is pushed by religious people, but it was discovered by scientists. Its not mythology. It is based on science. "

      Please post the scientific theory of ID. Please post the refereed science journal that published this theory of ID. Please post the names of the accredited research universities doing work in ID.

      We'll be waiting.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • kristy

      and what if he started making his statements about intelligent design after discovering the proof he needed? Whos to say that during his tenure at nasa that something out there revealed intelligent design? nasa and those scientists see things that we will never be allowed to see, they discover things we would never be allowed to know. Do you really think they would let us know of any proof they might find about intelligent design.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I think they would. Like people love to say, not all scientists are atheists. If there was any proof to even prop up intelligent design as a legitamite scientific theory, then it would be out there for the public to see.

      March 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Noah Tall


      You should study real hard in school, and maybe when you grow up you can be a NASA scientist and be in on all of their dark secrets...

      March 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.