Religious discrimination?

In creationist and intelligent design circles, there’s long been a conviction that in scientific institutions there’s a climate of persecution against “dissenters from Darwinism.” This is not entirely imaginary; after all, in science, we tend to think that especially religiously-inspired anti-evolutionary stances are a sign of professional incompetence.

Lately, I’ve ben running into an occasional piece taking this to the next level. Since our judgments of incompetence are bound to influence career-related decisions such as the granting of tenure, some creationists are charging that this is illegal discrimination on religious grounds. If colleagues look askance at you because you’re one of the tiny minority of natural scientists who have Intelligent Design sympathies, well, that’s a “hostile work environment.”

I doubt if it would go anywhere, but it could be interesting to see if anyone tries to make a real legal case based on such an approach. Meanwhile, it’s yet another example of conservatives exploiting liberal and left-wing lack of imagination—the tendency to construe all injustice in terms of prejudice against identity-groups.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University