Religious Discrimination Case against University of Kentucky Rekindles Intelligent Design Debate

Last week, astronomer Dr. C. Martin Gaskell won a religious discrimination settlement of $125,000 against the University of Kentucky, pursuant to claims that the school passed him over for a research position because of his belief in divine creationism – essentially, that God created the universe.

Curiously, the University of Kentucky apparently confused Dr. Gaskell’s view on evolution. As analysts at the website pointed out, Dr. Gaskell is not strictly a biblical literalist or “intelligent design” proponent. Rather, he is a “theistic evolutionist.” In other words, according to his written views, he apparently believes that a divine being set up the universe with discrete rules and also that the theory of evolution — as is commonly understood by chemists, physicists, and biologists — has serious flaws.

Rather than engage in long litigation, the University of Kentucky agreed to the six figure settlement with Dr. Gaskell. But as the analysis piece at points out, it may not be too long before courts witness similar religious discrimination lawsuits against other academic institutions. The article also raises this interesting question: “Can a university pass over a candidate who publicly (and vocally) turns their back on science in the name of religion, in a field unrelated to their work?”
Many astronomers, physicists, biologists, and other scientists are deeply religious, contrary to the popular stereotype of academics as agnostic/atheists. And, as Dr. Gaskell’s story nicely illustrates, not all critics of the theory of evolution share the “intelligent design” perspective.

On a more practical note, individuals who feel like they have experienced some kind of religious discrimination at work or who’ve experienced racial discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation for complaining about abuse, or other mistreatment generally lack a practical understanding of their legal rights.

The law firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum can give you a complementary consultation to help you determine your best next steps. Connect with the team today at, or phone (212) 688-5640 to get sound and responsible guidance about your claim.

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