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Did finding soft tissue in a dinosaur fossil result in a scientist’s firing?

California State University under fire for religious discrimination? Photo CSU-Northridge: Wikipedia

California State University under fire for religious discrimination? Photo CSU-Northridge: Wikipedia

UPDATED: Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) has announced it is taking on the case of Mark Armitage, a scientist and professor at California State University Northridge (CSUN), who PJI alleges was fired for his religious beliefs. Pacific Justice is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending liberty and religious freedom.

According to its news release, Pacific Justice alleges that Mark was dismissed from CSUN because he published an article in February 2013 in a peer-reviewed scientific journal showing dinosaur bones contained non-fossilized organic material. The finding indirectly called into question claims by evolutionists that dinosaurs are millions of years old.

Mark was part of dig at the Hell Creek formation in Montana when he discovered what is considered the largest triceratops horn ever found at this dig. The triceratops was a massive animal that according to evolutionists existed 60 million years ago. With features like a modern rhino, it had a massive head with three horns and a large frill.

Mark was using a high-powered electron microscope to study the fossil, when he discovered soft tissue inside the horn. His findings shocked those in the scientific community.

Mark is regularly published in scientific journals. This includes 30 technical papers and 11 of his micrographs which appeared on covers of scientific publications.  Shortly after his article on soft tissue, CSUN dismissed Mark. Though he had worked there for 38 months, Mark was told his position was only temporary and that funding had run out.

Mark and his legal team are not convinced. According to the court documents filed against the trustees of CSUN, PJI alleges that an official from the university questioned Mark’s motives for releasing his findings.

The official reportedly said:

“We are not going to tolerate your religion in your department.”

The PJI claim also stated:

“Since some creationists, like [Armitage], believe that the triceratops bones are only 4,000 years old at most, [Armitage’s] work vindicated his view that these dinosaurs roamed the planet relatively recently.”

In an interview with GenesisWeek, Mark Armitage states he made no creation claims in his paper, saying:

“It is frustrating because I made no conclusions in the paper, I just presented the factual data. The only conclusions I drew were that ‘This needs to be investigated further. We have a lot of work to do.’ And that was it.”

When he was first hired, Mark was upfront with the CSUN’s hiring committee about his creationist views. Foxnews reports:

“When Armitage applied and interviewed for the position, he ‘informed the the panel of CSUN personnel who interviewed him’ that he ‘had published materials supportive of creationism,’ according to the complaint.”

Because of Armitage’s excellent credentials, CSUN decided to hire him. According to Foxnews, the problem seems to have started when Armitage’s boss retired in 2012 and was replaced by a person not involved in Armitage’s initial hiring.

Pacific Justice Institute allege Mark’s release was due to religious beliefs. Speaking on behalf of the organization, President Brad Daucus said:

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 even more alarming. This should be a wake up call and warning to the entire world of academics.”

According to Foxnews, CSUN is looking into the allegations of religious discrimination stemming from the lawsuit.

Soft tissue in dinosaur fossils

This is not the first time soft tissue has been found in dinosaur bones reportedly millions of years old. In 2004, Dr. Mary Schweitzer was doing similar work in the Hell Creek Formation, when she came upon non-fossilized soft tissue in a Tyrannosaurus bone. I have written two previous articles on these finds here and here.

Her incredible find even made it to 60 minutes.

But it was not all roses for Schweitzer. When she first tried to publish her findings in a scientific journal, it was turned down because of its implications on evolutionary theory. In an interview with Discover, Schweitzer said:

“I had one reviewer tell me that he didn’t care what the data said, he knew that what I was finding wasn’t possible. I wrote back and said, ‘Well what data would convince you?’ And he said, ‘None.'”

University of North Carolina loses discrimination lawsuit

Neither is this the first time, a University has been accused of discriminating against Christian views.

In June 2014, the University of North Carolina settled with Dr. Mike Adams after losing a lawsuit where Adams proved the university had discriminated against him due to his Christian views.

When he started working as an associate professor in the University’s criminology department Dr. Adams was an atheist. However, after his conversion to Christianity in 2000, his views became conservative and he started publishing regularly on conservative sites.  He was pro-life and pro-God.

In 2006, after being denied full professorship at the University, Adams believed he was being discriminated against. He took legal action and won his lawsuit earlier this year.

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