Michael Egnor

Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics, State University of New York, Stony Brook

Archives

Body & Soul: Joshua Farris and The Creation of Self

How does the body contribute to the soul? On today’s episode, host Michael Egnor and theologian Dr. Joshua Farris discuss the implications of a neo-Cartesian understanding of the human soul on divisive cultural issues such as transgenderism and abortion. Farris, author of the recent book The Creation of Self: A Case for the Soul, argues that the body supplies certain controls and powers to the soul, and that separating the body from the soul would do harm to the soul. He also addresses the question of when ensoulment occurs in human development and explores the idea of switching souls among identical twins and the challenges it poses to philosophies of mind-body dualism. He concludes by discussing the rise in popularity of metaphysical theories and their connection to cultural

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 Michael Egnor at Discovery Institute Dr. Joshua Farris at Missional University Podcast

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 Michael Egnor at Discovery Institute Dr. Joshua Farris at Missional University The Creation of Self by Joshua Farris Podcast

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 Michael Egnor at Discovery Institute Dr. Joshua Farris at Missional University Podcast

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 Michael Egnor at Discovery Institute Dr. Joshua Farris at Missional University Podcast

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 FarrisDr. Michael EgnorBuy Dr. Joshua R. Farris’ Book: The Soul of Theological Anthropology Cartesian ExplorationWhat is Berkeleian Idealism?What is Cartesian Dualism?What is Emergence?Who is Roger Sperry?Who is Wilder Penfield?More information about Split-Brain surgeryPotency and ActWho is Thomas Aquinas?Who is Boethius?The Prime Mover Argument Podcast

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 Michael Egnor at Discovery Institute Stephen G. Post at stephengpost.com Podcast

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 Michael Egnor at Discovery Institute Stephen G. Post at stephengpost.com Dignity for Deeply Forgetful People at Amazon Podcast

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 book is wrong. Neither the human capacity for reason nor for free will evolved, because

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 affect the physical body. Thus, he believes that libertarian free will is

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, that have not been created, however were

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 out a priori the possibility that considerations of the kind raised by Meyer point to

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 EgnorFollow Arjuna Gallagher on FacebookSubscribe to Theology Unleashed on YouTubeMore on Euthyphro’s DilemmaWho was Plato?Definition of Last ThursdayismDefinition of Thomistic PhilosophyWho was Rene Descartes?What is Presuppositionalism?Buy The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness and BlissBuy The Doors of the Sea by David Bentley HartLearn more about William Lane CraigMore about the Bhagavad GitaWhat is General Relativity?What is Hare

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 the easy

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 with a different morality than yours is amoral, but that doesn’t stop those sleazebags.P. Z. Myers, “The “objective morality”

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 person pronoun “I” doesn’t refer to an object like a

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 think what even more fascinating is a question it

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 Coyne, “A new conception of God: He’s real in the way mathematics is” at Why

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 WebsiteMichael Egnor at Discovery.orgBuy Andrew Newberg’s book: Why We Believe What We BelieveThe Brain Prosperity Gospel: Can “Neurotheology” Be Real Science?More about Nuclear MedicineDefinition of Electroencephalogram (EEG)Definition of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)Roger ScrutonMore information on Thomistic PhilosophyMore information on Thomas AquinasBuy Andrew Newberg’s book: How God Changes Your BrainBuy Carol

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 hypotheses may seem a little less far-fetched , 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