The Perverse Logic of Jet Propulsion Laboratory's "Origins Program" - Evolution News & Views

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The Perverse Logic of Jet Propulsion Laboratory's "Origins Program"

In case anyone wonders whether NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab fired David Coppedge because his sharing ID-related videos with coworkers somehow interfered with JPL's work and mission -- well, take a look at the Lab's own description of its research in the field of life's origins. JPL has an Origins Program and here's what, in JPL's own words, it focuses on:

How did we get here? How did stars and galaxies form? Are there other planets like the Earth? Do other planets have conditions suitable for the development of life? Might there be planets around nearby stars where some form of life has taken hold? These questions have intrigued humanity for thousands of years. Astronomers approach these fundamental questions by looking far into the Universe, back toward the beginning of time, to see galaxies forming, or by looking very close to home, searching for planetary systems like our own around nearby stars.

NASA's Origins Program will launch a series of missions to help us answer these age-old astronomical questions. Origins missions include four space-based observatories --- the Next Generation Space Telescope, the Terrestrial Planet Finder, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, and the Space Interferometry Mission, and Earth-based observations using the Keck Telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

You could hardly formulate a better summary of the questions that one of the pro-intelligent design films that Coppedge would lend out, Privileged Planet, itself explores in depth. Another film he lent to co-workers, Unlocking the Mystery of Life, tackles relevant topics as well.

The only problem is that JPL seems to have adjudicated the mystery of life's origins in advance of its own scientific research, ruling out one approach to the subject -- one that's open to finding scientific evidence of design in the cosmos -- before the data JPL seeks has even come in.

The Origins Program is, in that sense, rigged. JPL staff could discuss the issue of "How did we get here?" so long as they did not openly consider answers that are friendly to intelligent design. They could and did criticize ID all they want, but by the Lab's circular reasoning, pondering the evidence for ID and sharing it with interested colleagues amounted to a firing offense. David Coppedge fell victim to this perverse logic and lost his job in the process.

The discrimination case, as you know already, is headed to a jury trial. This should be interesting.