Peaceful Science Welcomes Dr. David Heddle to the Forum

It’s great to have yet another physicist join us: @david.heddle

Dr. Heddle has already provided some interesting insights at: Common Narrative with ID on MN

I look forward to your further contributions to our discussions, Dr. Heddle.


Thank you! (Please call me David)


Welcome! Tell us about your self @david.heddle?

I am a physics professor at Christopher Newport University in Newport News VA. We are a small (and very good, in my opinion!) liberal arts university offering up to the Master’s degree level, but no Ph.D. Some of you may know our physics department’s most famous graduate.

I actually have a joint position with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab), a Department of Energy national lab, which houses a 12 GeV electron accelerator used for basic nuclear physics research into quarks and gluons.

In my 30’s, my wife dragged me to church, a Presbyterian PCA church. For those who are familiar with the PCA, their sermons tend to be like college lectures, and I sat there impressed (and surprised) by the level of scholarship they brought to bear on their discussions. Then one day the most unintellectual thing happened. The pastor was reading the story of the repentant thief and I found myself in tears and I realized that I actually believed this stuff!

Not long after that I started blogging–way back in 2002. The blogosphere was very different back then— there was a relatively small community of individual Christian bloggers and we all knew one another. I still have the same blog, and man is it embarrassing to read what I wrote six months ago let alone 17 years ago.

In the early 2000’s I was an ID proponent. I originally signed the “Dissent from Darwinism” document, but around 2007 I asked for my name to be removed. Even before that my ID support had waned. One of my most read posts was my story of being banned from Dembski’s Uncommon Descent.

These days I mostly blog about theological musings. I am still a big supporter of using cosmological fine-tuning not as proof of anything, and not as science, but as comforting apologetic to my fellow believers, and as a fascinating conundrum for the philosophers of science.

I live with renewed amazement that every new scientific discovery that would have, early in my career, strengthened my atheism, now strengthens my faith.

Okay, I’ll stop. That is certainly more than you bargained for.


Really interesting article!

Can you tell us more about why you asked to be removed from the Dissent, and how that played out?


Unaware that it was the third-rail of ID,…

Love it. :slightly_smiling_face:


Dave, I’ve read your posts over the years and found them well reasoned, even where I rarely disagreed. Kudos, and thanks for the information. It’s also been interesting to observe your changes in position over the years, particularly in regard to ID and to biological evolution.

This was an awesome commentary, BTW.


This is important too:

There is, however, one point that I want to make clear: my criticism of Dembski’s mathematics came before I got kicked off this list or his blog. It would not be fair to say that suddenly I was a Dembski critic because of vengeance. A search of my blog and Panda’s Thumb (and even Uncommon Descent) will reveal a uniform response on my part over the last three years: I have not read Dembski. Now my gut feeling was that what he was claiming, or at least what his champions were claiming, was impossible, but as long as I hadn’t read his books I could evade questions about whether I thought he was correct. That all changed a little less than a year ago for a rather remarkable reason. I was exchanging emails (on quantum mechanics) with a Nobel Laureate quality physicist who is also a strong Christian. (I’m not going to tell you his name, you can simply choose to believe me or not.) In passing I asked him what he thought of ID. I meant cosmological ID, but only asked about “ID.” He responded as if I had asked about biological ID. He words were polite (he’s not a beast like I am) but they were also very clear: he thought Dembski’s mathematics were, shall we say, not very laudable. That email prompted me to start reading Dembski’s work, concentrating at first on the Design Inference monograph and, in that weird way that unintended consequences are, well, unintended, to this post which is now concluded.


That third rail ended up costing Dembski a job at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Center for Theology and Science, after the publication of his book in which he suggested the universe & Earth was old. Dembski tried recanting but was later replaced with the six-day creationist, Kurt Wise.

Edit: For certain, Dembski found himself between a rock and a hard place, trying to balance significant family needs with the Seminary’s demands. Never a pleasant place for anyone to be.

The truth is that the YEC position is held by many groups that the DI would like to win over, or at least, not alienate. However, many YEC organizations are rightly suspicious of where’d they be left if the “ID train even managed to leave the station”.


The train (subway, at least) can’t leave the station without a live third rail. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Well, I looked it up and it was later than I remembered when I finally asked to be removed, it was 2010. It played out very anti-climatically, as described here.

As to why-- well by that point I had been out of the closet for at least four years, to my small blog audience at least, as anti-ID. Why I took so long to ask for my name to be removed… I don’t know.


Thank you so much.


Congratulations! You are the first person I am aware of that succeeded in being removed from that list. I’ve heard tales of others asking to be removed and it didn’t happen - maybe it just didn’t happen quickly.

No doubt you are aware of Project Steve. :slight_smile:


Can we verify he has actually been removed?

EDIT: Just did. He is not in the current version.


When you signed it in the first place, was it because you considered it to be a statement of ID? In other words, did you read something into it that took into account its source and its political goal rather than the actual wording? I say this because some biologists have said they signed it in ignorance of its implied rather than literal meaning. Taken completely literally, I could have signed it.


Well, it was a long time ago but I do remember what you just described, that taken uber-literally it is, in some sense, true. However the reality is more embarrassing. I unwisely left academia in 2001 (I was soooo lucky to get back) and instantly regretted it. I was, I hate to admit it, flattered that a group of academics wanted me to join them.

EDIT: This is a reply to John Harshman


Well that is some uncomfortable honesty everyone should respect. Thank you @david.heddle.


That is sad but I guess not surprising. The YEC establishment can’t even work with people who could be allies in some things. It is either 6,000 years or you are out of there.

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