Scientist Sues University for Being Fired After Questioning Evolution

CSU Northridge

A scientist filed a lawsuit against California State University, saying he was fired from his job after finding soft tissue on a dinosaur fossil that supported his creationist views. Scientist Mark Armitage got into a row with his former employer after supposedly discovering the biggest triceratops horn ever found at an excavation site named Hell Creek Formation in Montana. Armitage found and evaluated soft tissues around and inside the horn, but “this needs to be investigated further”, he said.

Armitage suggests dinosaurs roamed the earth only thousands of years ago and disprove the notion that the now extinct creatures existed more than 60 million years ago. His argument was published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in July 2013.

“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,” states the complaint filed against the university board of trustees in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Armitage, who has been working as a scientist for more than 30 years, said that a university official challenged his motives by telling him his religion was not going to be tolerated by the department. Reportedly the university fired Armitage soon afterwards, saying there was not enough funding for his position and suddenly terminating his 38-month-long appointment. His method was in question as he seemed not to understand the process of cell preservation. Additionally, Armitage made no mention as to the potential of contamination by other species or the age of the surrounding fossilized bone in his abstract.

Attorney Brad Dacus from Pacific Justice Institute filed the lawsuit on the scientist’s behalf, saying “Terminating an employee because of their religious views 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 academia.”

According to Pacific Justice Institute, a legal organization that specializes in the defense of parental rights, civil liberties and religious freedom, the university’s recent claims contradict the documents and statements that it has shared with Armitage on an earlier occasion.

“It has become apparent that 'diversity' and 'intellectual curiosity,' so often touted as hallmarks of a university education, do not apply to those with a religious point of view. This suit was filed, in part, to vindicate those ideals,” said Michael Peffer, staff attorney from the organization.

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