A California scientist has filed a lawsuit against a university after he was terminated from his job due to his religious views after discovering soft tissue on a dinosaur fossil which supports a Biblical view of creation.
Mark Armitage, a former scientist at California State University Northridge in Los Angeles, uncovered the largest triceratops horn in the world while excavating at the Hell Creek Formation excavation site in Montana.
After examining the horn under a high-powered microscope, Armitage was "fascinated" to discover soft tissue on the sample, "because it indicates that dinosaurs roamed the earth only thousands of years in the past rather than going extinct 60 million years ago," said Armitage's lawyer, Brad Dacus.
"Since some creationists, like [Armitage], believe that the triceratops bones are only 4,000 years old at most, [Armitage's] work vindicated his views that these dinosaurs roamed the planet relatively recently," states the complaint filed against the CSUN board of trustees in Los Angeles Superior Court, reports CBS News.
In July of last year, Armitage, who has worked as a scientist for over thirty years, published his findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Shortly after, a university official berated Armitage for his findings, shouting, "We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department!"
Court documents also reveal that Armitage was let go after the school announced that his position at the university had been temporary and they "didn't have the funding" to keep him on staff.
"Terminating an employee because of their religious views is completely inappropriate and illegal," Dacus, said in a statement. "But doing so in an attempt to silence scientific speech at a public university is even more alarming. This should be a wakeup call and warning to the entire world of academia."
Other experts agree that Armitage's rights have clearly been violated in multiple areas.
"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," said Michael Peffer, staff attorney at the Justice Institute, a legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedoms, parental rights, and other civil liberties.
"This suit was filed, in part, to vindicate those ideals."
Armitage is not the first respected scientist fired for his Biblical viewpoint concerning his practice.
In 2012, former NASA specialist David Coppedge, who worked as a "team lead" on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, alleged that he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work. Coppedge lost his "team lead" title in 2009 and was let go last year after 15 years on the mission.
"It's part of a pattern. There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin and we've seen that for several years," said John West, associate director of Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute at the time.
"This is free speech, freedom of conscience 101."