Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence

Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.


What Makes Humans Unique? 

What makes humans unique compared to the rest of the natural world? Can strict materialists answer that question? In today’s podcast episode, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor speaks with Dr. Joshua Farris on the idea that human beings are made in God’s image, the mystery of consciousness, and panpsychism. Additional Resources

The Person as “Immaterial Substance”

Is there substantial evidence that we are more than our bodies? And does that point to the existence of God? Theological anthropologist Dr. Joshua Farris thinks so. In this podcast episode, Farris speaks with host and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor to talk about materialism, mind, and theism, as well as Farris’ new book: The Creation of Self.  Additional Resources

Discussing the Cartesian Error

What impact did the ideas of the philosopher René Descartes have on our modern conception of the mind/body problem? In today’s episode, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor digs deeper into his conversation with Dr. Joshua Farris, discussing Thomistic dualism, materialistic explanations for consciousness, and the inevitability of metaphysics.  Additional Resources

Neuroscience, the Mind, and Theism

What can modern neuroscience teach us about the immaterial mind? Can we ever know anything for certain? In this episode, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor talks with anthropologist Dr. Joshua Farris. They discuss the brain, Descartes, and the theological implications of the various philosophies of mind.  Additional Resources

The Nature of Mind, Body, and Soul

How do the mind, the body, and the soul interact? After years of studying the brain, there are still many questions. Dr. Joshua Farris discusses free will, consciousness, and philosophy on this bingecast with Dr. Michael Egnor. Additional Resources Dr. Joshua Farris Dr. Michael Egnor Buy Dr. Joshua R. Farris’ Book: The Soul of Theological Anthropology Cartesian Exploration What is Read More ›

Alzheimer’s, Medical Ethics, and Choosing Life

From preemptive assisted suicide to selective abortions, the medical field suffers a host of ethical dilemmas. In today’s podcast episode, memory-loss expert Stephen Post joins neurosurgeon Michael Egnor to discuss Alzheimer’s, bioethics, and the intrinsic dignity of human beings.  Additional Resources

Caring for the Deeply Forgetful

How can we compassionately relate to those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease? Is the mind more than the brain? Dr. Stephen Post, an expert in the field and author of Dignity for Deeply Forgetful People, speaks with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor on memory, consciousness, and whether the mind could have arisen from matter. Additional Resources

Kenneth Miller on Consciousness and Evolution

Despite Miller's claims, neither human reason nor free will evolved because neither are generated by material processes
Kenneth Miller is a biologist at Brown University who has been very active in his written and vocal support for Darwin’s theory of evolution. He’s neither a materialist nor an atheist – he is a Catholic, and in being one of the rare Darwinists who doesn’t subscribe wholeheartedly to the materialist/atheist paradigm, he allows himself to be used as a token theist by the Darwinists. It helps his career, no doubt, but doesn’t advance the truth. Not an admirable place to be. Miller’s New Book and What it Misses In his 2018 book The Human Instinct: How We Evolved To Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will, Miller manages a feat uncommon even for Darwinists – even the title of the Read More ›

Sean Carroll: “How Could an Immaterial Mind Affect the Body?”

The well known physicist thinks free will is nonsense. But has he investigated the classical understanding of causation?
Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at Johns Hopkins University who takes an atheist and materialist philosophical perspective on nature and on science. I have disagreed with him often — I’m in no position to judge his scientific acumen, but his philosophical acumen leaves a lot to be desired. An example of this is a question he asks in a recent documentary about free will (which I haven’t watched yet). In the trailer for the movie, Carroll asks, How in the world does the immaterial mind affect the physical body? Carroll’s denial of libertarian free will is based on this question, and of course, he believes that the immaterial mind does not exist and, if it did exist, could not Read More ›

Mathematics Can Prove the Existence of God

Atheist biologist Jerry Coyne finds that difficult to believe but it’s really a matter of logic
This story was #3 in 2022 at Mind Matters News in terms of reader numbers. As we approach the New Year, we are rerunning the top ten stories of 2022, based on reader interest. In “Mathematics can prove the existence of God” (July 31, 2022), neurosurgeon Michael Egnor offers this thought: Because mathematics can show infinity, eternity, and omnipotence, it can only have proceeded from a mind with those characteristics. That’s God. In a recent post, atheist biologist Jerry Coyne takes issue with a commenter who asserts that God exists in the same sort of way mathematics exists. Here’s the analogy the commenter offered, as quoted by Coyne: Think of numbers for example, or mathematical equations, these are metaphysical things, Read More ›

Is God Just a “Hypothesis” Like the Big Bang?

Our friend and interlocutor Edward Feser takes exception to the title of Stephen Meyer ’s recent book, The Return of the God Hypothesis. Dr. Feser writes: With all due respect, the phrase “the God hypothesis” gets my hackles up. If X is something on which the world might merely “hypothetically” depend then X isn’t God. An argument gets to God only if it establishes the reality of an X on which the world couldn’t fail to depend. Hence arguments that present theism as a “hypothesis” are – qua arguments for theism – time-wasters at best and indeed cause positive harm insofar as they yield a distorted conception of God and his relation to the world. That is not to rule Read More ›

Hinduism, Philosophy, and the Mind

Arjuna Gallagher is the host of the YouTube Channel called Theology Unleashed and a Hindu. He discusses Hinduism’s unique perspective regarding subjects such as metaphysics, evil, and free will with Dr. Michael Egnor. They also address creation, social ethics, and the relationship of the mind and the body. Additional Resources Dr. Michael Egnor Follow Arjuna Gallagher on Facebook Subscribe to Read More ›

Is Consciousness a “Controlled Brain Hallucination”? No.

Anil Seth explains away consciousness away using fashionable terms like that. As a pediatric neurosurgeon, I know from clinical experience that he is wrong
Philosopher David Chalmers famously divided the problem of understanding how consciousness is related to the brain by distinguishing between the easy and hard problems of consciousness. The easy problem of consciousness is typically faced by working neuroscientists — i.e., what parts of the brain are metabolically active when we’re awake? What kinds of neurons are involved in memory? These problems are “easy” only in the sense that they are tractable. The neuroscience necessary to answer them is challenging but, with enough skill and perseverance, it can be done. The hard problem of consciousness is another matter entirely. It is this: How can first-person subjective experience arise from brain matter? How do we get an ‘I’ from an ‘it’? Compared with Read More ›

Atheists Who Scold Us on Morality Acknowledge God’s Existence

For example, every time internet-famous atheist P. Z. Myers scolds humanity on morality and immorality, he demonstrates the point
P.Z. Myers detests challenges to his atheism based on the reality of Objective Moral Law: There is a common line of attack Christians use in debates with atheists, and I genuinely detest it. It’s to ask the question, “where do your morals come from?” I detest it because it is not a sincere question at all — they don’t care about your answer, they’re just trying to get you to say that you do not accept the authority of a deity, so that they can then declare that you are an evil person because you do not derive your morals from the same source they do, and therefore you are amoral. It is, of course, false to declare that someone Read More ›

Philosopher: I’m Neither Me, Myself nor I… Yet I Give Interviews!

Theoretical philosopher Thomas Metzinger tells his interviewer “Nobody ever had or was a self. Selves are not part of reality.”
It’s remarkable that given the abysmal logical state of modern neuroscience, modern philosophy of mind seems to be in a heated contest to be even more absurd. Secular meditation teacher Michael W. Taft interviewed leading theoretical philosopher Thomas Metzinger. Here is one set of Taft’s and Metzinger’s questions and answers, and my observations: Michael W. Taft: You’ve written at great length about the experience of selfhood in human beings. So let’s start off by asking, What is the self? Thomas Metzinger: The first thing to understand, I believe, is that there is no thing like “the self.” Nobody ever had or was a self. Selves are not part of reality. Selves are not something that endures over time. The first Read More ›

Yes, Spiders Dream — But That Doesn’t Make Them Leggy People

We don’t know where on the tree of life “mind,” in the most basic sense, begins. It might include bacteria but not viruses
A recent research article from Germany, which has made quite a splash in the popular press, raises some very interesting questions about animal minds. Animal behaviorist Daniela C. Rößler and co-authors studied 34 young spiders while they slept and found that their eye movements seemed analogous to the eye movements of human beings and other higher animals that occur during REM sleep and are associated with dreaming. They pointed out that this seems to suggest that arachnids may have mental states and dreams that are more akin to those of human beings then previously thought. The article, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is open access. The research is fascinating in its own right but I Read More ›

Mathematics Can Prove the Existence of God

Atheist biologist Jerry Coyne finds that difficult to believe but it’s really a matter of logic
In a recent post, atheist biologist Jerry Coyne takes issue with a commenter who asserts that God exists in the same sort of way mathematics exists. Here’s the analogy the commenter offered, as quoted by Coyne: Think of numbers for example, or mathematical equations, these are metaphysical things, that have not been created, however were discovered. The number 7 was the number 7 before anything at all came into existence. This is also true concerning the nature of God. He is not some material being that has come into existence, he is like a number that has always existed, (and by the way nobody will deny this logic with the number, however when someone mentions God a problem occurs). Jerry Read More ›

Mysteries of the Mind

It’s hard to know where the brain ends and the mind begins. How can studying our brains give us insight into our minds? Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor sit down for a chat about all things brain related including neurotheology, methods of studying the brain, and other mind/brain phenomena. Additional Resources Andrew Newberg’s Website Michael Egnor at Discovery.org Read More ›

Is Consciousness the Sort of Thing That Could Have Evolved?

Researchers Simona Ginsberg and Eva Jablonka have written a book attempting to trace the evolution of consciousness
Evolutionary biology is a veritable geyser of story-telling. “Just-so stories” is the term evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould used to describe the many fables that biologists concoct to account for the astonishing specified complexity of living things. Of these Darwinian fables that plague evolutionary science, neuroscientist and developmental biologist Emily Casanova has noted, While modern [evolutionary] hypotheses may seem a little less far-fetched [than children’s fairy tales], they are no less fanciful—in part because modern scientists are sometimes so focused on “What adaptive advantage could this trait possible give?” rather than determining how said trait could have arisen and been passed down by other means. In addition, so often these hypotheses are untestable, so in actuality they’re not even “hypotheses”. Read More ›

Must We Be Able To Reason To Be Thought Of As Human Persons?

A common argument as to why abortion is generally ethical is that the unborn child cannot reason
Perhaps the most common justification that abortion proponents give for supporting abortion is that the human embryo or fetus isn’t capable of rational thought — and rational thought is the defining characteristic of humanity. They’re wrong in a fundamental way. How they’re wrong is best understood if we look at the metaphysics of human development. Metaphysics is “The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.” (American Heritage Dictionary) The ancient philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC), who provided an important foundation for science, pointed out that humans are rational animals. That is, we have at least the possibility of rational thought, although at some stages of life Read More ›