University settles lawsuit with scientist fired after he found soft tissue in dinosaur bones

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By Chad Dou —

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 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.

A Triceratops

“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.”

Armitage was hired as a microscopist to manage CSUN’s electron and confocal microscope suite in 2010. He had published some 30 articles in scientific journals about his specialty.

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, Armitage went on a dinosaur dig at the famous fossil site of Hell Creek in Montana, where he unearthed the largest triceratops horn ever found there. Back at CSUN, he put the fossil under his microscope and made the startling discovery: unfossilized, undecayed tissue was present.

If the dinosaur were 65 million years old, the soft tissue could not have possibly remained, he says. His findings seconded groundbreaking discoveries by noted molecular paleontologist Mary Schweitzer, who triggered an earthquake in the world of paleontology when she published about soft tissue in dinosaur bones in 2005. (Schweitzer subsequently postulated that iron is responsible for preserving the soft tissue.)

Armitage’s February 2013 study was published in the peer-reviewed Acta Histochemica, a journal of cell and tissue research. Two week later, he found himself without a job.

A biology professor had come into his office and said, “We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department.”

Armitage fought back. Professors and students alike had praised his work managing the microscope lab. His suit alleged he was excluded from a secret meetings of the microscopy committee. In a “smoking gun” email, university officials suggested they could ease Armitage out of his part-time position by making it full-time, Reinach said.

A colleague described the process as a “witch hunt,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

For two years, CSUN fought Armitage’s lawsuit. 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 in 2016, 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.”

CSUN has downplayed its decision to settle, saying in a statement that the university is committed to religious freedom and freedom of speech.

“The Superior Court did not rule on the merits of Mr. Armitage’s complaint, and this voluntary settlement is not an indication of wrong-doing,” according to a CSUN statement published in Retraction Watch. “The decision to settle was based on a desire to avoid the costs involved in a protracted legal battle, including manpower, time and state dollars.”

But Reinach countered: “They certainly would not have paid that kind of money if they did not recognize that we had them dead to rights. The state doesn’t put large, six-figure settlement money out unless they are really concerned they are going to lose.”

Prior to looking for soft tissue in dinosaur bones, Armitage studied diatoms, unicellular organisms that make up phytoplankton, which reveal a dizzying complexity and organization at the microscopic level.

According to Armitage, the beauty and complexity of diatoms lends credence to the idea they are a product of a Creator and not of spontaneous evolution.

“Evolution is structure supported by two pillars: one is chance, and the other is time. Chance is required because we obviously can’t say that a thinking force created life on earth. That is anathema for the materialists. If you kick out one of those two pillars the whole structure collapses,” Armitage noted. “If you kick out chance by showing incredible design, the structure of evolution starts to totter and it may crash. Because you cannot have design in a world that doesn’t have a Designer.

“The other pillar is time because you cannot get a man from a frog unless the princess kissed the frog. That’s a fairy tale. So in science you have to have deep time to get evolution.”

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.”

Chad Dou studied at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in West Los Angeles.

69 COMMENTS

  1. It’s embarrassing that they act like creation and evolution are the only two possibilities. Neither side has enough intelligence to think outside their tiny little boxes.

  2. Waiting for Jurassic Park…
    If they could clone the DNA from the soft tissue and grow an embryo I think some Academics would certainly have to sit up and listen.

  3. Dear author, could you update this article with docket info for the case? I would like to go read the pleadings and the court’s order denying the university’s motion to dismiss.

      • I would say that it is possible that they can coexist. For example, creation puts forward that Adam was created, but he wasn’t created as a child that grew to adult hood. He was a “made” man (hahaha I crack myself up) It would be possible that intelligent design created a “mid-life” universe. In which case for comparison, Adam would likely have growth plates that had ceased to grow before he was created. They would be there even though an observer would think they wouldn’t exist. Or a belly button perhaps. Hopefully you get the idea. Likewise, since this is the same universe that was created at the time of Adam, that natural processes to get to humanity would all be in place even if they didn’t happen in the normal scale of time.

        At the end of the day, science can not disprove or prove faith, same as ever. Creation scientists should work on something productive like curing cancer, since God keeps inflicting it on children.

        • Is it God who forces children to use cancer-causing products, or influences man to pollute the earth, water, and food supply with toxic carcinogens?

          Time will tell how much our poor stewardship of the earth’s resources contribute to diminishing health and quality of life.

          But to blame God for children coming down with cancer is both shortsided and lazy.

        • God does not inflict cancer or any other disease on anyone. We live in a very broken world and we are reaping what we have sown.

        • Interesting remarks. I find it interesting that those who say that they do not believe in “GOD”, The Supreme Creator of Everything, but they are quick to blame GOD for things they don’t like!?
          How can a sane person put Blame on Someone who they say does not exist?

    • more precise answer is that the Bible creation narrative does not allow for that. it is written as a straightforward eyewitness account by God himself. God says he created the universe and all it contains in six 24-hour days. the days of creation do not and cannot correspond with The evolutionary model, since God created the Earth before the sun and the rest of the universe, and plants before the sun, etcetera. mature plants cannot live for more than a day or so without sunlight for photosynthesis, but they can survive if the stated time frame of 24-hour day is literally true. The omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent god of the Bible would have no trouble designing the Earth living and geologic systems, and putting that design into being, without a need for any evolutionary process and long ages. The Narrative implies each system is brought into being and to maturity immediately on that day, so it is ready for the animal or human life that will depend on it functioning. It is not a random process, requiring blind chance and deep time as Evolution claims. See the book, the Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel, for more on this and other reasons to accept the god hypothesis rather than The naturalistic, evolutionary View

      • 2 Peter 3:8 ‘But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

        Seems like there is more than 24 hours in the Lord’s Day.

    • There are ancient remains such as mummies and preserved mammoths who have soft tissue and are thousands of years old. Soft tissue just means not fossilized into stone. I think a related article said around 4000 years, but to be honest I think scientists can’t really know – most dating methods (including carbon dating) are pretty unreliable in determining dates.

  4. Why can’t there be a designer and evolution? Please don’t judge me . Is soft tissue not found in every dino bone? AND if not who’s to say when those dinosaurs died…. I mean why do we think every dinosaur died at the exact same time? Some didn’t live on in other areas of the world? Alligators and other creatures made it …….

    • I believe the answer to your questions is the Bible’s worldwide flood as described in the Book of Genesis chapters 6 through 9. The Narrative implies a event of Staggering violence otherwise unseen and unknown in Human Experience. Earth’s topography was likely less uneven than it is today . It can explain the presence of fossils in the Rock layers laid down By water all over the Earth. water erupting from under the continents as well as from clouds above the Earth for 40 days would gradually inundate all land and drown all air breathing land-dwelling plant, animal and human life. The flood can be the cause of present-day Mountain chains and ocean depths pushed up and down respectively by changing isostasis of the Earth crust. land masses would grind to a halt as the waters under the Earth depleted and friction increased, tending to pileup. as continents Rose and water drained off into lower ocean beds (which would continue to drop due to the weight of the water and changes due to the eruption of the waters under the Earth. most if not all the fossils seeing in in rock layers today, and indeed the layers themselves, likely formed during the year of the flood and shortly thereafter. a modern-day example of this type of Rapid geologic change can be seen at Mount Saint Helens, where layered Canyons have formed in a matter of hours days and weeks where there were none before May of 1980 eruption occurred. Mike, for these reasons and more, I do think that most every dinosaur and every other living thing in the fossil record did indeed die around the same time of the flood. There are fossils in the act of eating or fighting with each other or giving birth, which can be reasonably explained if the burial was rapid. It could also explain why mastodons are found at high latitudes Frozen with food in their mouths and in their stomachs if the biblical narratives idea of water’s coming up from under the Earth caused massive sudden snowfall that both killed and buried the animals suddenly

  5. Wait a minute. He was a SEM techie who taught labs… right? He isn’t qualified to make grand decisions, nor is he allowed to teach outside the scientific consensus. He was wrongfully fired (it seems). I would love to read what was said on either side. If his findings were/become supported, he will be a Nobel Laureate in no time. However, that isn’t likely to happen. Plus, K-Ar dating of nearly every old rock, both from Earth and from space, agree with a 4.65Ga hypothesis.
    God people talking science without understanding a word of it is humorous. This article is sure to mislead many of you into making a false hypothesis with no intention of testing it and every intention of repeating it blindly. That seems to me to be the reason he was fired, not because of his religion (per se), but for the fact that he was misleading many of the students in his lab.

    • The problem is that KA-r dating is only theory. It is not true science. Where did the scientists obtain the controlled specimen from 65 million years ago (or one billion years ago) to carbon date? Every amateur scientist knows this as a fact of science in the experimental process. And mostly, carbon dating has been an embarrassing procedure when the scientists come back with one billion years old on a specimen, only to then discover it was only a few years old. Wow, that’s NOT science JAP.

    • JAP… are you not aware of the erroneous assumptions built-in to the K-Ar dating method? (and all other forms of radiometric decay dating as well) Simply put, it doesn’t work and can never work because key assumptions are made about the initial mother/daughter elements ratios, assumption of uniform decay rate, and assumption that nothing disturbed the sample and was meticulously preserved for supposed millions of years and in all that time, nothing contaminated the samples.

    • the whole point is he was fired not because he was misleading students, but because he was telling them the truth, that soft tissue was found in dino bones. And this finding has implications. After that, its up to the students to figure out how that correlates to the old ages postulated for dinos, who are presumed to have died out 65 million years ago. Bringing up nobel laureate stuff is the old cannard, a false diversion from the issue, a false generalization from this specific instance. Typically, evolution believers start attacking the person, rather than the observation, because with their own blinders on, they do not have open minds to new and divergent observations and interpretations.

  6. This sounds very similar to what we are seeing in this country right now:

    Wikipedia on Russia
    Under the doctrine of state atheism in the Soviet Union, there was a “government-sponsored program of forced conversion to atheism” conducted by Communists.[79][80][81] The communist regime targeted religions based on State interests, and while most organized religions were never outlawed, religious property was confiscated, believers were harassed, and religion was ridiculed while atheism was propagated in schools.[citation needed] In 1925 the government founded the League of Militant Atheists to intensify the persecution.[82] Accordingly, although personal expressions of religious faith were not explicitly banned, a strong sense of social stigma was imposed on them by the official structures and mass media and it was generally considered unacceptable for members of certain professions (teachers, state bureaucrats, soldiers) to be openly religious. As for the Russian Orthodox Church, Soviet authorities sought to control it and, in times of national crisis, to exploit it for the regime’s own purposes; but their ultimate goal was to eliminate it. During the first five years of Soviet power, the Bolsheviks executed 28 Russian Orthodox bishops and over 1,200 Russian Orthodox priests. Many others were imprisoned or exiled. Believers were harassed and persecuted. Most seminaries were closed, and the publication of most religious material was prohibited. By 1941 only 500 churches remained open out of about 54,000 in existence prior to World War I.

  7. Yes, the scientists who prefer to radically proclaim their gospel of deep time will never tolerate a younger Earth theory because it would be massively embarrassing when their funds dry up and they’re without a job. What would they do then for employment?? It’s strange how much tax payer money is funneled into their hands and yet, not the hands of scientists who would also like to scientifically explain a different theory other than the popular one of the day, that being of macro-evolution. There is no equality amongst scientists today. The powers to be want one religion taught and force fed to the youth in schools vs being open to investigate further possible explanations other than their pseudo-science. God-forbid we learn more about the vast amount of evidence which points to a much younger Earth than predicted. Many cultures throughout the world have passed down stories within their people group for generations that speaks of a Great Flood, yet we don’t explore those findings nearly as much as what the evolutionists want us to believe. Very sad when they have become the ultimate hypocrites.

  8. This may be a completely stupid question, I am just not educated enough in any field of science to know. Is it possible, seeing that it was buried in MT, that because of our long winter’s and short summers it was frozen for most of it’s lifetime prolonging decay and finalization? Maybe it had the perfect storm to keep soft tissue for longer. Again I don’t really know if it works that way but maybe the fluctuation of extreme cold with bursts of summer where it never really thawed entirely could have been a factor. Just a thought?

    • I don’t think the soft tissue claim was the issue. Others have found ‘fossils’ with soft tissue. http://www.history.com/news/scientists-find-soft-tissue-in-75-million-year-old-dinosaur-bones
      What I think may have caused the problem was the fact that he didn’t cling to the standard ‘millions of years old’ age of the fossil. He offered the idea that maybe 75-million-year-old fossils are, in fact, quite young.
      That is a huge no-no in today’s politically-correct climate, as this report clearly points out.
      I wish science wasn’t something that can be played with. It would be nice to know that it is objective and that we can actually trust a scientist when he tells us why we his conclusions should be accepted. Unfortunately, scientists are human, and humans all too often have a bottom line, especially when their conclusions hinge on whether they get a job or not.

  9. The questions I have are
    1. What makes him (Or anyone for that matter) so sure that the tissue belonged to the dinosaur?; that it wasn’t just resilient, time defiant bacteria or something of that nature?

    2. You would think that with finding soft tissue, the very first and most important thing that has to be studied is the DNA. So why wasn’t that done/published?

    3. Is it not possible that, while the Dinosaurs may have been wiped out 65 million ears ago, perhaps SOME did survive? That quite possibly, this one was one of the last few remaining before they finally went completely extinct 3,000-4,000 years ago? Sounds unlikely, but definitely not impossible.

    This just stinks of deception, to be honest. Not because it doesn’t fit my narrative, but because there’s this feeling of knowing there’s got to be more to this situation than we are being told. DNA tests had to have been done. A historically altering find this incredible and of this magnitude would not have allowed any excuses for it not to be. This is way too big of a deal for a “Oops, we forgot”, or “Oops, we didn’t get around to it”.

  10. Glad he got justice, but that is not the way taxpayer dollars are to be spent! That huge sum of $ could have helped many students stay in college. This habit of settling difficult conflicts for cash is very troublesome! He should have been given his job back with back pay instead of such a large sum (although I supposed the lawyers got 40-50%, even with a smoking gun). Public officials continue to do wrong over and over with no personal consequences while taxpayers are forced to pay huge cash settlements when public officials break the law, while they still retain their jobs. Shouldn’t they at least get demoted if they are responsible for an incident resulting in such a huge cost to taxpayers?

  11. IF the earth is only some 6,000 years old, and IF the bible is the story of creation, why is there no mention of dinosaurs in it? My answer to this is, at the time the books of the bible were written, there was no evidence known of dinosaur fossils, so the creation story did not mention them. If the fossil remains were known about by Moses and other writers of ancient times, They would have been mentioned. The fact that there is no mention of them, to me, indicates that they were not known about- but it does not mean that fossils did not exist. I am curious as to what Christians say about all the dinosaur evidence. Regardless of the age of them, why is there no mention of such a huge creature being created? Do they just say- all these fossils are man made? Do they say they are just strange formations in the rock? Do they say they came from Mars?

    Back to this particular article- The fact that soft tissue may have been found in dinosaur bone does not determine the age of it. There are many other processes that could have occurred to result in this find. While it may be extremely rare to find this, it is not enough evidence to say that all other evidence suggesting the age of dinosaurs as being millions of years. The “scientist” involved was not doing proper research in the sense that he was basing his conclusions on his religious beliefs and not on pure research

    • John, To better understand the Christian perspective, you may find it of interest to watch the following video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xdkONYsjZg

      It is called “The Great Dinosaur Deception” presented by Dr Thomas Kindell, who was once an ardent evolutionist who has since become a creationist. In the presentation, he is speaking to a Christian audience.

      A second documentary I highly recommend watching with an open mind is:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aK_a-s0HI4#t=522.176588

      which is titled “Stunning Ancient Discoveries that will make you question everything.” It is long but worth watching in it’s entirety to appreciate the ultimate logical conclusion regarding evolution.

      Hope this helps.

    • There actually is reference to dinosaurs in the Bible, just under a different name:

      Job 40:15-24 “Behold Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold his strength is in his loins, & his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff as a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron. He is the first of the works of God; let him who made him bring near his sword! For the mountains yield food for him where the wild beasts play. Under the lotus plants he lies, in the shelter of the reeds & in the marsh.For his shade the lotus trees cover him; the willows of the brook surround him. Behold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth. Can one take him by his eyes or pierce his nose with a snare?”

      Job 41:1-34
      “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or press down his tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he make any pleas to you? Will he speak to you soft words? Will he a make a covenant with you to take him for your servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you put him on a leash for your girls? Will traders bargain over him? Will they divide him among the merchants? Can you fill his skin with harpoons or his head with fishing spears? Lay your hands on him; remember the battle–you will not do it again! Behold, the hope of a man is false; he is laid low even at the sight of him. No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up. Who then is he who can stand before me? Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine. I will not keep silence concerning his limbs, or his mighty strength, or his goodly frame. Who can strip off his outer garment? Who would come near him with a bridle? Who can open the doors of his face? Around his teeth is terror. His back is made of rows of shields, shut up closely with a seal. One is so near to another that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another; they clasp each other & cannot be separated. His sneezings flash forth light, & his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn. Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils come forth smoke, as from a boiling pot & burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, & a flame comes forth from his mouth. In his neck abides strength, & terror dances before him. The folds of his flesh stick together, firmly cast on him & immovable. His heart is hard as a stone, hard as the lower millstone. When he raises himself up the mighty are afraid; at the crashing they are beside themselves. Though the sword reaches him it does not avail, nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin. He counts iron as straw, & bronze as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee; for him sling stones are turned to stubble. Clubs are counted as stubble; he laughs at the rattle of javelins. His underparts are like sharp potsherds; he spreads himself like a threshing sledge on the more. He makes the deep boil like a pot; he makes the sea like a pot of ointment. Behind him he leaves a shining wake; one would think the deep to be white-haired. On earth there is not his like, a creature without fear. He sees everything that is high; he is king over all the sins of pride.”

  12. People, Students I surely do not believe in evolution. This is what to think about if evolution did occur. Who do you think created the evolutionist…….

  13. I firmly believe in God.
    But I also find no problem with Earth and the universe being billions of years old.
    How?

    Man wrote the Bible as inspired by God.
    At the time it was written, man’s knowledge (the knowledge that God allowed us to have at the time) couldn’t understand billions of years. It was much easier to explain those billions of years as one week. It’s God, so why couldn’t it be that fast? But why couldn’t it also have taken a very long time? God’s ‘week’ doesn’t have to be as long as man’s week.

    It was our lack of knowledge that had us making mistakes like the earth is flat, the sun orbits the earth, etc. As we have been able to use the brains God gave us we have learned more about how His universe works.

    I see nothing blasphemous in believing God is the why, science is the how.

  14. Rhonda needs some apologies for the nasty, typically human responses to her post.

    What she said is absolutely correct. Our brains are getting smarter and our development thus far will not let us think, philosophise, imagine or hold as an absolute religious truth, anything beyond our current ‘thinking’. We discover and then we invent and then we combine the two and change history…think of the internal combustion engine which combines a fossil which was once a living thing and burning it to produce motion, power, energy, heat etc.

    So Rhonda, thank you for highlighting this most important of phenomenon: humans being human and spectacularly displaying the progression of thought and brain activity and in some cases displaying the lack of growth in a group loosely described as ‘academics’

    But not physicists and chemists…these guys insist on real-time experiments as proof.

    Pip pip

    Simon

    ps are you ‘really’ surprised that Rhonda hasn’t posted since? There’s that human condition again.

  15. I am wondering who confirmed his discovery. Usually, when one makes a significant discovery, s/he immediately has a qualified colleague to confirm, preferably one not of his religion. If that did not happen, then, yeah! This man was seeing the world through religious lenses. It was just religion, not science.

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