CSUN scientist Mark Armitage found soft tissue in a dinosaur bone, a discovery that throws significant doubt on evolution. Then, two weeks after publishing his findings, he was fired.
Now California State University at Northridge has paid Armitage a six-figure sum to settle his wrongful termination suit based on religious discrimination. While the university admits no wrongdoing, Armitage’s attorney (Alan Reinach) said they feared losing a protracted lawsuit because of a “smoking gun” email that backed the plaintiff’s case.
The case of Armitage is the latest to show the mounting hostility Christians face in academics and other public arenas.
“Soft tissue in dinosaur bones destroys ‘deep time.’ Dinosaur bones cannot be old if they’re full of soft tissue,” Armitage said in a YouTube video. “Deep time is the linchpin of evolution. If you don’t have deep time, you don’t have evolution. The whole discussion of evolution ends if you show that the earth is young. You can just erase evolution off the whiteboard because of soft tissue in dinosaur bones.”
A graduate of Liberty University, Armitage adheres to the “young earth” view, against the majority of scientists who say our planet is 5 billion years old. He engaged students in his lab with Socratic dialogue over the issue of the earth’s age based on his and others’ research, he said.
In May 2012, Mark Armitage made a discovery that he had dreamed of for years. While digging in Montana, he uncovered one of the largest triceratops horns ever found in the Hell Creek Formation, a legendary stack of fossil-bearing rocks that date to the last days of the dinosaurs. Armitage drove the horn back home to Los Angeles, California, where his microscopic examination revealed that it contained not only fossilized bone but also preserved layers of soft tissue. “They were brown, stretchy sheets. I was shocked to see anything that was that pliable,” he says.
In February 2013, he published his findings in Acta Histochemica, a journal of cell and tissue research (M. H. Armitage and K. L. Anderson Acta Histochem. 115, 603–608; 2013). Two weeks later, he was fired from his job at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), where he managed the biology department’s electron and confocal microscopy suite.
With the help of Alan Reinach, Armitage’s attorney, he filed a wrongful termination suit against CSUN claiming that religious intolerance motivated the dismissal: as a young-Earth creationist, Armitage says that finding soft tissue in the fossil supports his belief that such specimens date to the time of the biblical flood, which he puts at about 4,000 years ago.
For two years, CSUN fought Armitage’s lawsuit. The suit alleges that faculty members hostile to Armitage had him fired because they could not stand working with a creationist who had been published in a legitimate scientific journal. The university alleged his firing was simply a restructuring of their biology department and not a case of religious discrimination. But CSUN lost its bid to have the judge summarily throw the case out of court as groundless in July of last year. So CSUN settled with Armitage for $399,500 according to Inside Higher Ed.
Alan Reinach, Armitage’s attorney, hailed the settlement as precedent-setting.
“We are not aware of any other cases where a creationist received a favorable outcome,” said Reinach, executive director of the Church State Council, a nonprofit California public interest legal organization. “This was truly a historic case.”
Subsequent to the controversy, Armitage has been on additional digs and found more soft tissue but is finding it difficult to get published. “I’m clearly being blackballed,” he said in The College Fix. “Soft tissue in dinosaur bones destroys deep time” Armitage said. “Dinosaur bones cannot be old if they’re full of soft tissue.”
Our congratulations to Alan Reinach, and Mark Armitage. We pray that Mark Armitage finds a better job at an institution that is faithful to the Word of God.
"Lift up your eyes on high, and see Who has created these things. Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name by the greatness of His might" (Isaiah 40:26).