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Neuroscientist Says Our Souls Are Not Machines

A reviewer notes that Sharon Dirckx makes her case in a way that is easy for the attentive non-specialist reader to understand.
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Recently, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor pointed readers to Oxford neuroscientist Sharon Dirckx, whose new book outlines the fallacies of materialism and the logical and scientific strengths of dualism.

The book is Am I Just My Brain? (May 1, 2019).

One reviewer notes that Dirckx makes her case in a way that is easy for the attentive non-specialist reader to understand:

If you’re anything like most people in the world, you’ve probably asked the question ‘Who am I and why am I here?’ Some people answer this question by saying that people are just a bunch of matter that has somehow come together, but there are others who argue that there is a purpose and a meaning to humanity.

Sharon Dirckx has written a really good and helpful book that analyses the current understanding of what the brain is, discusses how our brain relates to our mind and the question of a persons soul.

If we are nothing more than our brains then how do we go about understanding free-will, identity, the idea of having a soul and thinking about if we are nothing but machines that are programmed to act in a certain way.

These are all very relevant questions that are being asked by both the Christian and the non-Christian. Are science and religion compatible?

I have never read any scientific books on this matter because they always seem to be far too academic for me, but Dirckx has written this book which is easy to read and is presents a very complex argument in such a simple straightforward way.

Alistair Chalmers, “Am I just my brain?” at Chalmers’ Blog

Another review, by Fred Zaspel at Books at a Glance, offers an outline, by chapter:

  1. Am I really just my brain?
  2. Is belief in the soul out of date?
  3. Are we just machines?
  4. Are we more than machines?
  5. Is free will an illusion?
  6. Are we hard-wired to believe?
  7. Is religious experience just brain activity?
  8. Why can I think?

He adds, “Dirckx brings much scientific research to bear on these questions that will be enlightening to all.”

So if readers are looking for a book by a writer familiar with the science who does not just adopt the materialist view and then spend two hundred and fifty pages supporting it, Am I Just My Brain? might be a good choice.

See also: An Oxford neuroscientist explains mind vs. brain. Sharon Dirckx explains the fallacies of materialism and the logical and scientific strengths of dualism

Also, more by neurosurgeon Michael Egnor on how the mind differs from the brain:

Science points to an immaterial mind. If one did not start with a materialist bias, materialism would not be invoked as an explanation for a whole range of experiments in neuroscience.


Neuroscientist Michael Graziano should meet the p-zombie. To understand consciousness, we need to establish what it is not before we create any more new theories.

Further reading on the abstract nature of thought:

A simple triangle can disprove materialism. Conventional descriptions of material processes do not help much when we are trying to account for abstract thought.


Four researchers whose work sheds light on the reality of the mind: the significance of Wilder Penfield, Roger Sperry Benjamin Libet, and Adrian Owen. The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot, says Michael Egnor. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple.

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Neuroscientist Says Our Souls Are Not Machines