A Creationist and a Truly Great Scientist: Dr. Raymond Damadian

Author: Stephen Caesar
Subject: Credibility of Creationists
Date: 5/31/2004

One of the most common myths spread by evolutionists is that Creationists can’t be “true” scientists. There are many, many legitimate scientists with advanced degrees from secular universities who believe the Genesis account of Creation, but let us focus on one: Raymond Damadian. You may not know his name, but almost everyone knows the results of his scientific ability: the MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine.

In 1970, when he was a physician/scientist at Brooklyn’s Downstate Medical Center, he tested his idea that a then-new technology involving intense magnetic fields and radio waves could differentiate between rats with and without cancer. The experiment was successful, and in 1972 Dr. Damadian patented the world’s first full-body MRI machine. This device was so monumental in the science of medicine that the Smithsonian National Museum of American History acquired it in 1986. Since its invention, millions of patients have had their soft tissues examined by MRI (something x-rays can’t do), and Damadian seemed destined for a Nobel Prize).

In 2003, that time seemed to have arrived. Rumors began circulating that he and two other major figures in the development of the MRI, Paul Lauterbur (University of Illinois) and Sir Peter Mansfield (University of Nottingham, England), had been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. When the winners were announced on Oct. 6, 2003, Damadian was shocked to find that he had been passed over, but Lauterbur and Mansfield had not.

The wrongness of the verdict was undeniable: in addition to the 1970 proto-MRI, Damadian was, in 1977, the first to use the MRI to see internal organs in a human being. He had patented the machine in 1974, and the Supreme Court upheld the patent in 1977. It was Lauterbur and Mansfield who later made the MRI medically practicable but, of course, they could never have done so without Damadian in the first place. Despite this irrefutable debt to Damadian, they remained silent on the Nobel snub.

There is one clear reason why this happened: Raymond Damadian, MD, is a Bible-believing Creationist. And he is a very visible one at that, currently serving as technical adviser for the world’s largest Creationist organization, the Institute for Creation Research. The Nobel committee simply did not want to admit that an outspoken Creationist could be a “true” scientist who has furthered the cause of science and improved the lot of humankind. The committee tried to cover itself by saying that the development of the MRI was a continuum, and that they simply adopted a cut-off point in this contiuum. This argument collapses in the face of the following passage in the December 2003 issue of Scientific American:

“[T]here is no question that Damadian played a key role in the development of MRI machines routinely used in hospitals today….The Nobel committee’s decision in this case, however, seemed to be an intentional slap in Damadian’s face. Award rules permit up to three winners in each category, so the committee could have included Damadian. Curiously, the Nobel’s press release describing the winners, which typically acknowledges other contributors, fails to mention Damadian.”

This was not the first time a great scientific pioneer was snubbed. In the 1940’s, the Nobel committee overlooked Oswald T. Avery, who discovered that DNA is responsible for the trnasmission of inherited traits, something that is now common knowledge even among middle schoolers. He was snubbed not because he was a Creationist, but because the scientists on the committee at that time were simply too stubborn to accept the central role of DNA in inheritance. The judges in the current dispute likewise are simply too stubborn to realize that a Creationist can be not just a legitimate scientist, but a monumental one at that.

References:

Weiss, R. 2003. “Prize Fight.” Smithsonian 34, no. 9, pp. 36-37.

Yam, P. 2003. “The Nobel Prizes for 2003.” Scientific American 289, no. 6, p. 42.

Stephen Caesar holds his master’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at www.1stbooks.com.