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.