NASA Worker Not Fired Over Intelligent Design, Judge Says

The Bible open to the Book of Genesis.
The Book of Genesis tells the Christian creation story. (Image credit: James E. Knopf, Shutterstock)

A California judge has tentatively ruled that a worker fired from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory did not lose his job over his intelligent design beliefs.

According to the Associated Press, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige has ordered a final ruling finding that former computer specialist David Coppedge was let go over personality issues and a refusal to keep up his skills' training. The final ruling is expected in full within 30 days.

Coppedge worked for 15 years on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn. In his spare time, he runs a website called Creative Evolution Headlines, which reinterprets recent science news in an intelligent design light. Intelligent design is the belief that a creator is responsible for life and the universe.

In his original complaint filed to the courts in 2010, Coppedge argued that NASA discriminated against him after he was reprimanded for handing out intelligent design DVDs to coworkers and speaking with them about his beliefs. After losing his "team lead" position, Coppedge filed a lawsuit against JPL.

"Plaintiff contends that, as a direct and proximate result of Defendants' conduct and actions, he has been prejudiced and harmed as the result of Defendants' actions suppressing and constraining protected speech in the workplace on account of viewpoint, content and religion," reads Coppedge's complaint filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2010.

Coppedge lost his job in 2011. JPL has contended that he was let go over conflicts with colleagues and a refusal to get additional training to secure his job even as the Cassini mission was downsized.

JPL officials and Coppedge's attorney declined to comment on the tentative ruling, according to the AP.

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Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.