(Natural News) A scientist and professor in California was terminated after he discovered that a dinosaur fossil was less than a million years old. California State University, Northridge (CSUN) fired scientist Mark Armitage due to his claim that the fossil could not be millions of years old due to the presence of soft, flexible tissue. Armitage’s discovery challenged the conventional theory of evolution – and cost him his job at the same time.
According to a report by The Christian Post, Armitage was evaluating a Triceratops horn fossil when he discovered soft tissue inside it. He obtained the fossil during a 2012 digging trip to the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. Armitage expressed fascination as there was no soft tissue found in earlier Triceratops fossils up to that point. Given this find, he estimated that the fossil was just 4,000 years old and not from millions of years ago.
Armitage’s findings were later published in July 2013 in Acta Histochemica. He did not mention the fossil’s possible age, but he shared his thoughts with his students. One of Armitage’s students shared the conversation with a faculty head in the university’s biology department. This faculty head entered Armitage’s office once day and shouted at him: “We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department.”
A report by Inside Higher Ed said Armitage complained verbally to two CSUN administrators about the religious discrimination he received. However, the officials never investigated the matter and instead told Armitage to forget about it. Two weeks after his study was published, Armitage was intentionally left out of a secret meeting among professors.
A colleague informed Armitage that he was the subject of a witch hunt and suggested that he resign. CSUN subsequently fired Armitage following the secret meeting. The university defended its decision by citing budgetary adjustments and a declining need for Armitage’s services, adding that Armitage was a temporary employee working on a part-time basis.
CSUN fired Armitage for going against the dominant view
Armitage, who had three decades of experience in his field, supported creationism. He wrote a book titled “Jesus Is Like My Scanning Electron Microscope: A Scientist Looks at His Relationship With the Creator” in 2008. Armitage said CSUN was aware of his book when it hired him.
Armitage sued CSUN in 2014, accusing the university of religious discrimination and wrongful termination. He claimed that scientists in the university did not want to be associated with a published creationist like him. Armitage’s findings – which led to his ouster – appeared to contradict the evolutionary theory CSUN has stood by for decades.
Brad Dacus, founder and president of the conservative legal group Pacific Justice Institute, represented Armitage in the 2014 suit. He said in a statement: “Terminating an employee because of their religious beliefs is completely inappropriate and illegal. But doing so in an attempt to silence scientific speech at a public university is more alarming.” Dacus continued that what happened to Armitage “should be a wake-up call and warning to the entire world of academia.”
On the other hand, CSUN said in an emailed statement that it is “firmly committed to upholding academic freedom, free speech and a respect for all religious beliefs.”
The university later settled with Armitage for $399,500 to avoid a protracted legal battle. CSUN indicated in the same emailed statement that the settlement was voluntary and “not an indication of any wrongdoing.” A university spokesperson added that a large portion of the settlement amount would cover Armitage’s legal fees.
Alan J. Reinach, another counsel for Armitage and the executive director of religious freedom group Church State Council, described the settlement as “significant” for two reasons. First, the sum awarded to Armitage was about 15 times his client’s annual salary as a part-time CSUN employee. Second, the settlement was notably the first he knew of where “a creationist scientist has prevailed in a religious discrimination claim against a public university.”
Reinach warned that going forward, “[universities] should be really, really careful and stick to the science.” He added: “Biology and other science departments should stick to the science and respect people’s religious differences.”
Armitage later said in a YouTube video about the settlement that he was “vindicated by the courts.” He added that his research “stands head and shoulders above all the other work that’s been found so far on soft tissue and dinosaur bones.” According to Armitage, his work was “a lit powder keg” – thus, CSUN had to fire him.
“Well-meaning Christians who find themselves as an enemy of the state over their beliefs need to stand up and fight,” Armitage said in the video.
Biased.news has more stories about the discrimination faced by creationist scientists such as Mark Armitage.