Martin Gaskell is not a creationist. He doesn’t believe God created the world in six 24-hour days. And, he believes all life descended from a common ancestor and evolved into its present form. However, Gaskell publicly expressed “that there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory . . . and that these problems are bigger than is usually made out in introductory geology (and) biology courses.” He also stated said that “despite some popular claims to the contrary, science has no satisfactory explanation of the origins of life.” This made the University of Kentucky suspect Gaskell might be evangelical. And, allegedly, this disqualified this highly qualified astrophysicist from a position there.
The university recently gave Gaskell $125,000 to settle a religious discrimination suit he had filed against the school. Though the University of Kentucky admitted no wrongdoing, an email written by a member of its search committee, who began to get cold feet, shows otherwise.
“If Martin were not so superbly qualified, so breathtakingly above the other applicants in background and experience, then our decision would be much simpler,” he writes. “We could easily choose another applicant, and we could content ourselves with the idea that Martin’s religious beliefs played little role in our decision. However, this is not the case. As it is, no objective observer could possibly believe that we excluded Martin on any basis other than religious.”
It used to be that Christian belief drove scientific exploration. This belief in a universe governed by a rational being led Galileo to discover order in the heavens and Newton to discover classical physics. Now, Christian beliefs have become taboo in the scientific community. And unfortunately, this anti-Christian bias isn’t limited to the field of science. Graduate counseling students have been kicked out of their programs for expressing objections to homosexuality; a hospital last year demoted a nurse for refusing to remove a cross necklace; and, a health care clinic in Britain recently suspended one of its workers for expressing pro-life views to her co-workers. Discrimination against Christians has become epidemic, but just how should Christians respond?
According to the Church of England, members of the clergy need to lead the way by re-engaging in the public square. In a recently released report, it states, “Bishops have a key role here both as public apologists and as teachers of the faith.” I agree. But, this isn’t a job reserved for pastors. The Christian Cultural Mandate applies to all believers. Historically, Christians have understood God’s command to subdue the earth as an injunction to apply God’s truth to every area of human society. This means all of us need to be public apologists – businessmen, stay-at-home moms, nurses, and astrophysicists. If we all accept this charge, perhaps then we can begin to change the cultural climate.