Scientist Wins Discrimination Settlement

I’ve been detailing examples of censorship in science, and here’s a case I’ve been following since 2013 that has been resolved.

Mark Armitage was a microscopist for California State University at Northridge in May 2012 when he dug up the largest triceratops horn from a 65 million-year-old specimen. While analyzing the horn, he made an astounding discovery: soft, stretchy material and osteocytes with no evidence of contamination.

This, however, wasn’t the first time unfossilized soft tissue was found in a dinosaur fossil. Mary Schweitzer had already published the discovery of 68 million-year-old soft tissue from a T-rex fossil in 2005, and it rocked the scientific establishment because no one believed such tissue could be preserved hundreds of thousands of years, let alone in a 65 million-year old fossil. Schweitzer confirmed her findings in 2009 by publishing the discovery of more dinosaur soft tissue from an 80 million-year-old hadrosaur.

Nonetheless, shortly after Armitage’s results were published in a peer-reviewed science journal, he was terminated from his position after being told by a colleague, “We won’t have your religion in this department!” This was completely unexpected because he had received praised for his work and verbal support from the president prior to the firing.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Armitage at the International Conference on Creationism in 2013 and heard his testimony first-hand, and I’ve been patiently waiting for the outcome. Normally these kinds of religious discrimination lawsuits don’t go in favor of creationists because it’s hard to prove such actions are the result of discrimination, but in this case, there appears to be a ‘smoking gun’ email that backed Armitage’s claims.

Therefore, CSUN agreed to pay Armitage a $399,500 settlement for wrongful termination based on religious discrimination- although the university admits to no wrongdoing.

This type of discrimination isn’t uncommon. Astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure by Iowa State University, but he was unable to prove his case. I’ve also written about discrimination directed towards Scott Minnich, Michael Behe and Gunter Bechly.

I’m also aware of more direct discrimination; one Iowa State University professor said, “… as a matter of fact, creationism should be discriminated against.” And another Iowa professor said any other professor should have the right to ‘fail any student in his class, no matter what the grade record indicates’ if it’s discovered that the student is a creationist, or that the right of ‘retracting grades and possibly even degrees’ if the student is later identified as a creationist.

This discrimination is wrong and threatens real science. I’m glad to finally see a favorable settlement in the case of Armitage. His discoveries, along with those of Schweitzer, are overwhelming evidence of a young earth because there should be no soft tissue remaining in any fossil greater than one million years. The best explanation for the existence of such soft tissue is that the dinosaurs were only thousands of years old when they died. Armitage said, “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.”

We’re often told that creationists can’t publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals because creationism isn’t real science, but, as Armitage has proven, they actually do- and he has done so over 30 times. It’s just that they can’t be open about it, or else they’ll experience backlash.

Since his firing, Armitage has continued his work in microscopy and has found more soft tissue, but now that he has been identified as a creationist, he’s being blackballed, so it’s no surprise that he’s finding it difficult to get published.

I’m very pleased to hear of his victory, and look forward to his continued work in this field.

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