A birthday present for Charles Darwin

From the Cape Cod Times:

WOODS HOLE — A federal appeals court recently upheld a ruling from a lower court that dismissed a lawsuit from a former Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researcher, who claimed he was unjustly fired for not believing in evolution.

Nathaniel Abraham, who was hired as a postdoctoral investigator in fall 2004 for his expertise in working with zebrafish, sued WHOI for discrimination in 2007. Abraham claimed he was fired after admitting he was a Christian who believes in creationism and the infallible word of God.

However, WHOI officials told the Times that Abraham’s job description clearly stated he would have to apply evolutionary theory in reviewing the results of research.

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit in April 2008 because Abraham did not file his discrimination claim within three years of being fired.

On Jan. 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Abraham’s last known job was teaching biology at Liberty University in Virginia, a college founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Academic freedom is a grand thing, but to deserve academic freedon, one should probably be doing academics-and of course fulfilling the actual job description one agreed to when hired. As a personal note, I’ve spent a lot of time near the WHIO, located in Woods Hole, Cape Cod, Massechusets as Woods Hole is a division of Falmouth, where my father’s parents used to live when I was a child, and where my father now owns a second house. The aquarium was a lot of fun as a kid, as well as the tiny bridge that opens for passing ships, which I thought was the coolest thing ever when I was small enough for the bridge to seem big.

25 thoughts on “A birthday present for Charles Darwin”

  1. I should teach Hokuto no Ken as what really happened in Japanese postwar history and see what happens (if memory serves me correctly, it starts in 198X).

  2. Yes, there is considerable pushback against the creationist nutballs. For example, California state universities will no longer accept homeschooled students who have only taken creationist biology courses. The reviewed the most commonly used Christian homeschool textbooks and determined they do not meet minimum standards for science education.

  3. “Abraham claimed he was fired after admitting he was a Christian who believes in creationism and the infallible word of God.”

    Sounds a bit fishy to me. I’d say he was sacked because he refused to do the work asked of him. You can, of course, apply evolutionary theory to your work even if you are a creationist. You don’t have to believe in the validity of a project in order to execute it.


    I remember reading about this guy in NYT I think. He was being held up as a kind of Rosa Parks of creationism, in other words he set himself up to get fired just so he could sue and set a precedent if he won. Puke.

    Plus, interesting piece on the various strains of creationism


  5. Ben Stein was recently turned down for a university speaking gig because they apparently got complaints about his creationist beliefs from “the community”. Even if Stein didn’t rig it himself, I’m sure that he was far happier to be turned down than to have a chance to speak. Now he’s been censored.

  6. It’s good that he didn’t win his suit, but I’m not sure if the reason he lost is anything to celebrate. He was late in filing his claim. We don’t know what would have happened if he had been on time.

  7. I see an irony of history here.
    The theory of evolution was introduced to Japan by Edward S.Morse,a marine biologist from New England who also established the first oceanographic institution in Japan in Enoshima,Kanagawa.
    I’d imagine Morse sensei is turning over in his grave now.

  8. “I’d say he was sacked because he refused to do the work asked of him. You can, of course, apply evolutionary theory to your work even if you are a creationist. You don’t have to believe in the validity of a project in order to execute it.”

    If I recall correctly, that is exactly what he had promised to do at first, and I guess after trying him out for a little while they decided he wasn’t fulfilling his promise.

  9. I can’t imagine a CV with “Liberty University” on it would not raise any red flags.

    M-Bone – what you should teach in this vein is the Kojiki and Shoki as pure fact. Don’t let this nonsense about the Earth being four billion years old stop you….

  10. ”Plus, interesting piece on the various strains of creationism”

    And an interesting link on that page to the creation museum to boot. A new place I have to go before I die.


    And people think that Japanese portrayals of history are wacky….

    Perhaps what the Yushukan needs is a few dinosaurs to attract the kids. Or maybe a theme cafe. Tojo’s tacos, anyone?

  11. “And people think that Japanese portrayals of history are wacky….”

    My hypothesis: stuff like hardcore creationism is just viewed as so absolutely fucking insane by most of the world that they refuse to believe that its popularity is even possible. By contrast, warped views of history in Japan are the kind of generic hyper-nationalist tripe it is easy to accept people believing in.

  12. I agree with that.Only difference is you don’t have to be a “hyper-nationalist tripe” to believe these views.
    Losers has to look in to your national history from the other end of the scope,which won’t be happening to the winners and the victims.

  13. “A new place I have to go before I die.”

    You know they will kick you out for laughing at Jesus riding a dinosaur, right? I would love to go, but I could not keep my mouth shut long enough. What is in a way more disturbing is reports of church groups taking kids to real museums, like the Smithy and the AMNH in NY and “explaining” the “Darwinist propaganda” on display.

    With regard to Japanese warped views of ultra-nationalist history, it is perhaps easier to believe people believe that (though I don’t find people believing in YEC that unusual: in fact whenever I meet an American who DOES agree with evolution I am pleasantly surprised; that’s how insidious the “Americans = fundies who want to teach fairytales as science” idea is, even though the UK is pretty bad too, and fundamentalism is strong in Australia as well) because 60-odd years ago that was actually taught, and mythologised.

    Tojo’s Tacos? Probably not.
    How about Tojo Takoyaki? Tokkotai-pie? The Shake of Nanjing?

  14. This is scarier, from a link from Aceface’s link:

    I would like to compare “受け入れていた” and “明白に正しいと考える” though – there’s a fair bit of leeway between the two.

  15. You know this is really difficult to understand,because Japanese love all the series of essays on evolution by Stephen J. Gould.

    Jade’s post reminded me of memory of Japanese weekend school back in the mid 80’s.I used to go to this school every Saturday that is being operated by renting the local American highschool that locates right near the Museum of American Natural History.I used to cut the class and go there to see dinos and stuffed animals.
    Being a keen natural history reader,I knew aboutnlegendary white hunter Carl Akeley who collected all the African mammals for the museum and whose name immortalized by Akeley Hall of African Mammals.And Roy Chapman Andrews,who led the exploration team to Mongolia in the 20’s and discovered dinosaur eggs.
    So cutting the class and wonder inside of AMNH was like my boy days dreams come true.

    And one day,one of the teacher at weekend school(who was working for part time and originally a PhD student at Columbia)asked us whether any of us believe in creationist theory since this might effect the course of class when learning on evolution.That was bizzarre,because teachers never ask that sort of question in Japan.But I found a boy sitting right next to me was actually in that belief so, the teacher wrote a letter to his parent to discuss on the matter….
    I’ve been wondering what had become of this kid.But I found him on an article on NewsWeek Japan him being a delegate of UN related institution in Kazakhstan…

  16. Scientists would be 90% or more – taking into account the fact that it is perfectly possible to do very good science and still not believe in Evolution – pure mathematics springs to mind, as well as several fields of physics.

    I’m surprised to see Catholics so low, since the Catholic Church has officially accepted evolution as the origins of human life (just not the human soul).

    What do JWs believe? I know very little about them. But why do low?
    Watching Bill Maher’s “Religulous” at the moment, which is…interesting.

  17. Re: Jehovah’s Witnesses.
    From the link Adam posted above:

    Day-Age Creationism is the belief that the six days of creation were really six geological epochs. Usually some effort is made to reconcile specific days in Genesis to specific epochs in Earth history, but since things didn’t really all happen separately and consecutively like in Genesis, such efforts are generally somewhat ham-handed. But at least they’re trying. Day-Age Creationism is what Jehovah’s Witnesses advocate in their Watchtower pamphlets.

  18. Yeah,my friend back in weekend school had “Watchtower”pamphlets.There were small but pretty active group of JW among Japanese expat cimmunity in NY.

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