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California State University, Northridge
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California State University, Northridge

University fires scientist after dinosaur discovery offers young earth evidence

Religious Liberty

A scientist is suing California State University, Northridge (CSUN) for firing him after he publicized a discovery that suggests dinosaurs roamed America thousands of years ago, rather than the millions most evolutionists cite.

Mark Armitage, who specializes in microscopic evidence for a young earth, unexpectedly stumbled upon soft tissue in a triceratops fossil and wrote about his discovery for a scientific journal. Two weeks later, he was out of a job. Armitage filed suit against the university’s board of trustees on Tuesday, citing wrongful termination and religious discrimination.

Armitage’s fascination with microscopes and tiny creatures started as a teen when he spent a summer on a marine science station staring at tiny planktonic algae through double lenses. Since then, he’s founded a successful microscope sales and consulting company, patented an optical inspection device, and discovered two new parasites. He holds memberships in several national scientific societies, and also serves as a Creation Research Society board member.

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In 2012, while at a world-famous fossil dig in Montana called Hell Creek Formation, Armitage uncovered the largest triceratops horn ever found at the site. To his surprise, he discovered soft tissue in the horn when he examined it under a high-powered microscope back at CSUN. Armitage believes the fact that the soft tissue wasn’t completely fossilized indicates dinosaurs roamed in the United States only thousands of years ago. Evolutionists claim dinosaurs went extinct more than 60 million years ago.

As the manager for the Electron and Confocal Microscopy Suite in the CSUN biology department, Armitage trained students to use the school’s high-powered microscopes. In the summer of 2012, while demonstrating one of the instruments, Armitage showed students the horn’s tissue samples and engaged them in “brief Socratic dialogue about the age of the horn,” according to the lawsuit. He believed the exchange was in keeping with leading students through the scientific method. A student reported the event to Armitage’s supervisor.

According to the suit, the supervisor stormed into the lab, shouting, “We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department!” and berating Armitage for his “creationist” views. Armitage informed the biology department chair and the head of technical services that what the supervisor said was a “clear example of religious discrimination.” Both of them assured Armitage his views would “not be a problem” and to “forget about the confrontation.” But they took no action to correct the supervisor or prevent future discrimination in the department, the suit claims.

Armitage published his findings in February 2013 with a peer-reviewed article for Acta Histochemica, a journal dedicated to the structural biochemistry of cells and tissues. His findings mirrored other recent discoveries of soft tissue in dinosaur bones. Two weeks later, CSUN fired Armitage, claiming his contract was temporary and the school lacked funding to continue the position.

On July 22, Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Armitage’s behalf, declaring he was fired due to his “perceived” religious views and, contrary to the school’s claim, his position was not temporary nor was funding an issue in the department. Armitage’s contract defined his position as “permanent part-time” and he was enrolled in the university’s benefits package. On the job for three years, he held progressively increasing responsibilities, received numerous commendations from co-workers and supervisors, and was told by his supervisor via email there were “big plans” to increase his lab, “complete with it’s own building(!)”

The lawsuit accuses the university of violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act, as well as Armitage’s First Amendment right to free speech and his academic freedom. A CSUN spokeswoman said on Thursday she couldn’t comment on the lawsuit because the school hadn’t been served.

“Terminating an employee because of their religious views is completely inappropriate and illegal,” Brad Dacus, president of PJI, said in a press release. “But doing so in an attempt to silence scientific speech at a public university is even more alarming. This should be a wakeup call and warning to the entire world of academia.”

Sarah Padbury
Sarah Padbury

Sarah is a writer, editor, and adoption advocate. She and her husband live with their six teenagers in Castle Rock, Colo.

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