Last December, I mentioned the case of a creationist named Nathaniel Abraham who was fired from his job at Woods Hole — he had the gall to apply for a post-doctoral position in an evolution and development lab, and the PI dismissed him for being incapable of supporting the full range of “evolutionary implications and interpretations” of the work he would have to do. Abraham sued him for a half million dollars in reply.
A Massachusetts federal court judge last week (April 22) dismissed the case against a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who allegedly fired a postdoc in his lab because of the postdoc’s creationist beliefs.
The postdoc, Nathaniel Abraham, was dismissed from his position in the lab of molecular toxicologist Mark Hahn in November, 2004, after revealing that he believed in the literal truth of the Bible and considered evolution to be not a fact but a theory. Hahn’s lab studies the evolution of molecular mechanisms of chemical signaling and adaptation to chemical exposure.
Abraham filed a discrimination complaint against Hahn, which was rejected by the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination. He then filed suit against Mark Hahn and the institute last November, arguing, according to court documents, that he had been hired to work in Hahn’s lab because of his expertise in zebrafish developmental biology, toxicology, and programmed cell death, and that “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.”
The defendants, however, argued that Abraham did not file the lawsuit within the timeframe specified by law. Furthermore, the court documents stated, research in Hahn’s lab “would have involved application of evolutionary principles without qualifications concerning the acceptance of evolution.”