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Creation 26(4):40–42, September 2004

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The not-so-Nobel decision

Recognition denied for achievement of great scientist Raymond Damadian—who is also a creationist


Raymond Damadian.

Anticreationists often try to pretend that there is no prejudice against biblical creation in ‘the world of science’. But creationists have long known that things are not like that in the real world. We even have to publish our own peer-reviewed journals; any paper which does not bow to materialistic axioms on origins has a snowball’s chance in a blast furnace of getting published in a secular journal.

In fact, some editors have made it very clear that they will go to great lengths to keep their respective journals free of such ‘corrupting influences’. Then there was the well-publicized case of Forrest Mims, the highly-skilled science writer. His employment by Scientific American was openly denied on the grounds of his creationist views—even though the subjects he was paid to write on were not remotely related to origins.

In June 1994, Creation magazine ran a feature article1 on Dr Raymond Damadian, the inventor of the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner. This medical breakthrough has saved many lives. We wrote how Dr Damadian had been awarded the United States’ National Medal of Technology. He has also been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, alongside Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers, where he was awarded the Lincoln-Edison medal.

(At the time, Dr Damadian’s patents on the MRI scanner invention had been infringed. A jury decision in his favour had been inexplicably overturned by the judge in favour of the companies that had exploited his ideas. However, three years later, the US Supreme Court overruled in his favour.)

In 2003, the Nobel Prize for Medicine went to the breakthrough field of diagnostic MRI scanning. It was shared by two scientists. But, to the stunned disbelief of virtually all who worked in that field, these did not include Raymond Damadian, even though the terms allow for up to three people to share the award.

Dr Eugene Feigelson is Dean of the State University of New York College of Medicine in New York, the institution where Damadian’s pioneering work was done. He said, ‘… we are so disappointed, and even angry … all of MRI rests on the fundamental work that Dr Damadian has done here.’

There is no doubt that the two scientists who were honoured, Dr Paul Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield, did contribute to the field. Lauterbur developed techniques for producing images from scans, and Mansfield refined the techniques to make them more practical. But there is absolutely no question that the pioneering breakthroughs were Damadian’s. He was the first to point out, in a landmark 1971 paper in Science (based on experiments involving lab rats), that MRI could be used to distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue. Lauterbur’s own notes indicate that he was inspired by Damadian’s work.

As an experimentalist, Dr Damadian had to overcome the scoffing of theoretical physicists. Against much opposition, he built the first working MRI scanner. The first MR image of a live human chest was made with this machine on 3 July 1977. The prototype is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hall of Medical Sciences. In 1972 Dr Damadian filed the first patent for MRI scanning. Dr Bradford James is professor of biochemistry at Drexel University, and Chairman of the Committee on Sciences and the Arts that elected Dr Damadian for the 2004 Benjamin Franklin Medal and Bower Award.2 He said, ‘There is no controversy on this. If you look at the patents in this field they're his.’

As an experimentalist, Dr Damadian had to overcome the scoffing of theoretical physicists.

In the definitive 840-page book The Pioneers of NMR and Magnetic Resonance in Medicine: The Story of MRI by James Mattson and Merrill Simon, Bar-Ilan University Press, Jericho, New York, 1996, Chapter 8 is given over to Dr Damadian. The chapter title is: ‘Raymond V. Damadian: Originator of the Concept of Whole-Body NMR Scanning (MRI) and Discoverer of the NMR Tissue Relaxation Differences That Made It Possible.’ And in 2001, the Lemelson-MIT program bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award on Dr Damadian as ‘the man who invented the MRI scanner’.

All of which makes the exclusion of Dr Damadian as the third co-recipient of the Nobel so pointed that even some of the secular media have talked of the possibility of a link between Dr Damadian’s exclusion and his creationism. The New York Times raised the issue in a recent report.3 In fact, as renowned an anticreationist as the agnostic/deist Canadian philosophy professor Michael Ruse has written of his own deep concern.4 Choosing his words carefully, he writes of the ‘likely hypothesis’ that the motive for rejecting Damadian was his open creationism. Damadian is a Christian, says Ruse, whose beliefs include the Genesis account of creation: ‘Adam and Eve the first humans, universal flood, and all the rest’.

Ruse says that in the eyes of the Nobel committee, ‘it is bad enough that such people exist, let alone give them added status and a pedestal from which to preach’.

Having testified against creationism in major US trials, Ruse still opposes biblical creation with every fibre of his being. In fact, he says he feels ‘a certain sympathy’ for those who might say that creationists should be excluded from scientific recognition lest it give their ‘wrong … [even] dangerous’ views credibility. But his sense of fair play makes him say, ‘I cringe at the thought that Raymond Damadian was refused his just honor because of his religious beliefs.’ By those standards, he points out, the Nobel committee (whose deliberations remain sealed for 50 years) would also have had to reject Isaac Newton.


  1. Super-scientist slams society’s spiritual sickness!, Creation 16(3):35–37, 1994; creation.com/damadian-interview. Return to text.
  2. The awards were by Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. Its Vice President, Philip W. Hammer, said they were for ‘taking amazing technology that he has legitimate claim for inventing and taking that technology to market successfully.’ Return to text.
  3. Chang, K., Denied Nobel for MRI, he wins another prize, New York Times, 23 March 2004. [The prize referred to was that in ref. 2.] Return to text.
  4. Ruse, M., The Nobel Prize in Medicine—Was there a religious factor in this year’s (non) selection?, Metanexus Online Journal, 16 March 2004. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Jason C.
I lost respect for the Nobels when they awarded Obama a peace prize after he had done literally nothing to merit the award. Their exclusion of Damadian further cements my disdain for the organization.
Cameron N.
"All flesh is as grass, and the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flowers fade away but the Word of out Lord endures forever." (1 Pet 24-25). Sometimes I wonder why we do the things we do... Why work and invent anything at all when its final destiny is dust and the whirlwind? (Hos 8:7) In the end, to build a life based on accomplishments is hollow at best... "Vanity of vanities all is vanity." (Ecc 1:2).

Sometimes, in my darker thoughts, I wonder why the Lord has us do anything at all. It's all transient anyway, so why create and compel some of us with an inventive and creative spirit when its destiny is assured destruction? This is especially apparent for Christians whose work is built off the offensive truth of the cross? (1 Cor 1:23) The world will hate what good you do and even subvert the goodness you intend, especially in these last days where they call "evil good and good evil." (Isa 5:20) So why do we invent or create anything at all in this life?

We create for the Glory of God who alone deserves the Glory,"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men," (Col 3:23) It is imperative that we never lose sight of this lest we stray and serve mammon who hates us rather than the Lord who loves us. (Matt 6:24, John 15:18-27) We create by faith in the Lord (James 2:18) and we can rest assured that eventually and eternally our faith in Christ will cause our work and lives to "never be put to shame" (Rom 10:11)

So the answer to the question why do Christian creators build anything is for the glory of God, Solomon's conclusive wise answer (Ecc 12:13-14). Mr. Damadian may have been denied justice and recognition in this life but he will receive these in the next. And those who deny the Lord will be stripped completely.
Philippus S.
It is absolutely outrageous that Raymond Damadian was not recognised as the prime inventor of the MRI scanner. Let us point it out, but let us not forget what the Apostle Paul said about people like those in the Nobel Foundation.
2Jn 1:4  I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 
2Jn 1:5  And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 
2Jn 1:6  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 
2Jn 1:7  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 
2Jn 1:8  Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 
2Jn 1:9  Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 
2Jn 1:10  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 
2Jn 1:11  For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 

Why would we accept a recognition from people who does not recognise God, walking in Truth and Love. I will rather say; Thank you God for a man like Raymond Damadian, and God bless.
Dan M.
Jesus himself said we would be persecuted for our Christian beliefs. Joh 15:20, is just one of many warnings Jesus and the apostles gave us and we need to be prepared for the harassment that will come. I believe this is why most young people leave the church after they leave home. They are smart enough to know they too will be marginalized by society if they remain and are not prepared. We have done a poor job of training them to stand fast for Christ, Mat 16:26.
Personally, I don’t care a hoot what the world thinks of me for standing with my God! I know what I believe and why I believe it, because of the scriptures. They have been proven to me again and again. Also the various creationist ministries have informed me with SCIENTIFIC explanations that back the biblical perspective of what we observe in the world which has strengthened my resolve and taught me it’s not just stories but history.
God knows what Raymond Damadian did and he will get his full reward when we meet God face to face.
Don Batten
A major factor in the departure from the church after young people leave home is the lack of teaching in churches on the defense of our faith, particularly regarding origins (which you allude to). It is connected with not withstanding persecution, because if you are not convicted that what you believe is absolutely true, then you are not likely to stand up and be counted when persecution comes. See Fallout!
James H.
Being creationists comes with the high calling that we are strangers and sojourners on the earth, so we should not be surprised or troubled when the world does not receive us into their arms. Damadian deserved recognition, but should have had mixed feelings about receiving high honors from ungodly people. Our reward is in the world to come.

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you...for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven."
Matthew 5:11-12
Guy W.
Of course it is absolutely outrageous the Raymond Damadian was not recognised as the prime inventor of the MRI scanner. The Nobel people have significantly de-valued their award by the decision but at the same time they have managed to separate scientific and academic persecution from religious and racial persecutions, and made it acceptable to the masses (of course their ignorance stems from lack of interest). However there are highlights of similarity to our age with that of Noah - 'evil imaginations in their hearts continually' Gen 6:5. Primarily this has to do with acknowledging God and this is really what gets their ire up and it is this issue that they are working so hard to obscure, using their rarified esoteric scientific status to do so to an inferior (in their view) non-scientific populace.
However, in the interests of God's plan and His love for humanity the work of CMI should be upheld in prayer (pray for Habakkuk 2:14), in order to challenge the great lie that Darwin's Theory of Evolution is science. It is as much science as Star Trek and with increasing scientific knowledge we can see that apart from becoming the scientists favourite religion, it is fast becoming the greatest expression of Hans Christian Andersen's "Emperor's Suit of Clothes".

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