Professor Gaskell, to be sure, is skeptical of certain religious beliefs, but the religion about which he expresses his doubts is Darwinian naturalism, and that's simply an unacceptable breach of intellectual propriety and orthodoxy at UK as elsewhere.
What was the precise nature of his offense? Uncommon Descent provides some details:
No one denies that astronomer Martin Gaskell was the leading candidate for the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky in 2007 — until his writings on evolution came to light.Well, Professor Gaskell should be thankful he still has a teaching job, although that, too, may be in jeopardy for all we know. But what did he say that caused the UK high priests to rent their garments and remove him from consideration for the directorship at the UK observatory? At this point, no one knows for sure, but Joseph Knippenberg provides some quotes from Gaskell's lecture notes on a talk he gives on "Modern Astronomy, the Bible, and Creation".
Gaskell had given lectures to campus religious groups around the country in which he said that while he has no problem reconciling the Bible with the theory of evolution, he believes the theory has major flaws. And he recommended students read theory critics in the intelligent-design movement.
That stance alarmed UK science professors and, the university acknowledges, played a role in the job going to another candidate.
Now a federal judge says Gaskell has a right to a jury trial over his allegation that he lost the job because he is a Christian and “potentially evangelical.”
“The record contains substantial evidence that Gaskell was a leading candidate for the position until the issue of his religion or his scientific position became an issue,” U.S. Senior District Judge Karl S. Forester of the Eastern District of Kentucky wrote late last month in rejecting the university’s motion for summary judgment, which would have dismissed the case.
Forester has set a trial date of Feb. 8 on Gaskell’s claims the university violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on job bias on the basis of religion.
UK, in a legal brief, acknowledged that concerns over Gaskell’s views on evolution played a role in the decision to chose another candidate. But it argued that this was a valid scientific concern, and that there were other factors, including a poor review from a previous supervisor and UK faculty views that he was a poor listener.
In its brief, UK said professors worried about Gaskell’s “casual blending of religion and science” and feared the then-planned MacAdam Student Observatory’s “true mission … would be thwarted by controversy that has nothing to do with astronomy.”
Gaskell’s lawsuit, however, argues UK officials repeatedly referred to his religion in their discussions and e-mails. And he argues that UK mistook him for a creationist — someone who believes the Bible disproves the theory of evolution.
If you're disturbed by reading heretical opinions then I suggest you skip these paragraphs. They're very troubling, especially if one is a Darwinian fundamentalist:
“God made everything pretty much as it is now in six 24-hour days about 6000 years ago” – the so-called “Creationist” position (a bad name! – I, and many writers on the subject prefer the name “Young-Earth Creationist” for this position). This is the position of the Creation Research Society (CRS), the San Diego based Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and a number of other “Creation Science” organizations. I have a lot of respect for people who hold this view because they are strongly committed to the Bible, but I don’t believe it is the interpretation the Bible requires of itself, and it certainly clashes head-on with science.Pretty raw stuff. I mean, the man is obviously sympathetic to intelligent design, and worse, Christianity, and he seems to be trying to give an objective, unbiased factual explanation, of all things, of the controversy between "creationists" and Darwinian naturalists over origins. This objectivity apparently poses such a threat to UK's standards of academic decency that the university simply cannot allow it to be tolerated. To be sure, Professor Gaskell affirms the scientific consensus on matters of origins and evolution. That's not the problem. The problem is that he manifestly rejects the naturalistic religion that many scientists hold to be the one true faith.
“The Answers are not in yet”. This is part of my own viewpoint. I believe that God has not yet revealed everything to us in the Bible (see Deuteronomy 29:29 and I Corinthians 13:9-10,12), and I know that we don’t know all the answers in science yet.
The main controversy has been between people at the two extremes (young earth creationists and humanistic evolutionists). “Creationists” attack the science of “evolutionists”. I believe that this sort of attack is very bad both scientifically and theologically. The “scientific” explanations offered by “creationists” are mostly very poor science and I believe this sort of thing actually hinders some (many?) scientists becoming Christians. It is true that there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory (a good thing or else many biologists and geologists would be out of a job) and that these problems are bigger than is usually made out in introductory geology/biology courses, but the real problem with humanistic evolution is in the unwarranted atheistic assumptions and extrapolations.
It is the latter that “creationists” should really be attacking (many books do, in fact, attack these unwarranted assumptions and extrapolations). While discussing controversies and interpretations of Genesis I should mention something that has been much debated in recent years but is not an interpretation of Genesis: what is called “Intelligent Design”. This movement, which is often erroneously confused with young-earth creationism, is just exploring the question of what evidence there is in the universe for design by an intelligence. This is really a general, non-religious question (although with obvious religious implications), and there is no opinion on the interpretation of Genesis.
I don't know if there's anything to it, but there's a rumor floating about that the higher-ups at UK have summoned the men in this video to come to Kentucky to deal with people like Professor Gaskell.