From the Science article:
During the search process, a UK committee member discovered an article on Gaskell's personal Web site titled “Modern Astronomy, the Bible, and Creation.” The article, based on talks Gaskell had given, “appeared to blend science and religion,” according to a brief filed by the university.And further:
In an e-mail to Science, Gaskell called himself an “old earth theistic evolutionist,” a label that deems evolution a tool God used to develop life. In his deposition and his e-mail, Gaskell says he is not a creationist or a subscriber to intelligent design, both of which, to varying degrees, discount natural selection. However, his lecture notes cite work by astronomer Hugh Ross, who embraces an old Earth, as geologists do, but rejects evolution as the guiding principle for life.Now, all this has been taken to court so we will yet see how this plays out:
“It's a rather intriguing case,” says Ehrich Koch, an attorney in Minneapolis... “It appears as though what the court is saying is both sides have arguments, and they may be able to prove their case.”
The trial is scheduled to begin on 8 February. On 1 March, Gaskell begins work as a professor at the University of Valparaiso in Chile.
Now what are my views? First of all, I do think someone who is unable/unwilling to teach, defend and research mainstream science is someone who universities should avoid hiring. That said, it would be unfortunate if you were denied a scientific job purely because you happen to be associated with a religion.
This story hits home, not because I share fanatical religious views about science with fundamentalist Christians, but because I would never want to be denied a job because it was discovered... brace yourself... I was LDS. I have always defended (and believe!!!) good mainstream science from evolution to the big bang to, etc... In fact, I have now over a dozen journal articles as a graduate student, or soon to be journal articles, on physics related to the big bang and believe and advocate every word of it. Furthermore, on this blog I have always tried to defend good, mainstream science. But, there is always the worry that some committee won't care and will just tag me as some "crazy Mormon" whom they would like to not have as a new hire.
And: from Newton who "wrote more on religion than he did on natural science" to today with prestigious members of the National Academy like Francisco Ayala or the human genome's Francis Collins, one thing history has shown is: religious people can make some darn good scientists!
And I for one intend to be a darn good scientist myself.
So what are your thoughts, both on this specific case, and in general on whether being religious should be grounds to not hire a scientist?