Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Michael Egnor

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Human fetus on scientific background

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…

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Dolbadarn Castle

Yes! There Is Evidence For the Intelligent Design of the Brain

If our brains were not intelligently designed, we would have no reason to believe anything our senses tell us

This is a big topic, of course. The brain, like all of biology, is obviously intelligently designed. From the elegant coordination of neural activity between neurons and brain regions to the remarkable law-like behavior of individual molecules and atoms that comprise neurons and neurotransmitters, the brain carries the unmistakable fingerprint of a Designer. But there is another common-sense way to infer design of the brain that is simple and I think quite convincing — it is based on our belief that our perceptions and concepts accord with truth. To see how this points to intelligent design of the brain, consider a very compelling argument for God’s existence proposed by philosopher Richard Taylor (1919–2003) in his book Metaphysics. Thomist philosopher Edward…

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Atheism. Torn sheet of paper with the inscription.

Faith in God Is the Only Coherent Basis for Reason

Access to truth is always a matter of faith — the validity of reason cannot be validated by reason itself

Atheists commonly assert that there is a profound dichotomy between faith and reason. This is exemplified by atheist evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne ’s book Faith vs. Fact. He implies that we can have faith in the truth of something or we can have factual knowledge of the truth but we cannot have both. Faith and fact are, in his view, mutually exclusive. But that is not true. Faith in God provides an indispensable foundation for the power of human reason. In the perspective proposed by medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), we must accept radical skepticism about the veracity of our perceptions and our concepts. One may ask: how do we know that what we perceive or what we…

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Choosing the High Road or Low Road

My Challenge to Two Atheists Who Deny Free Will

There is too much of this nonsense in the science blogosphere. If Pigliucci or Coyne would like to debate free will, they can consider this a challenge from me

Of all of the materialist cults, free will denial may be the most bizarre. Nothing could be more obvious in everyday life that in a very real sense we generally have the option to choose our acts. We choose mundane things like what to have for breakfast and what clothing to wear and we make moral choices every day. The denial that we have the freedom to choose is essentially the assertion that we are robots, enslaved to our physics and chemistry and incapable of freedom. Obviously this view of humanity is deeply insulting – it’s just a slur – but is also rank nonsense. In fact, it’s self refuting and obviously so. At his blog, Why Evolution is True,…

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Tiger Battle

“Woke” Comes Back to Bite the Darwinists — and They Deserve It

Intelligent design people stood up not only for our colleagues and those who think as we do but we also stood up for freedom for people
Darwinist Jerry Coyne has been at the forefront of efforts over the past couple of decades to censor advocates of intelligent design and anyone who questions the Darwinian paradigm. Read More ›
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embryo silhouette in woman hand

Political Website’s Christmas Gift to Readers: Promoting Abortion

FiveThirtyEight asked readers to share their abortion stories and got something it hadn’t bargained on: Many were glad it didn’t happen
If you want to understand the mindset of the abortion lobby, note that this plea for accounts of killing of children in the womb appeared on Twitter on Christmas Day. Read More ›
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Problem solving concept. Mixed media

Does Superdeterminism Resolve Dilemmas Around Free Will?

If we lack free will, we have no justification whatsoever to even believe that we lack free will

The conventional view of nature held by materialists, who deny free will, is that all acts of nature, including our human acts and beliefs, are wholly determined by the laws of nature, understood as the laws of physics. We cannot be free, they assert, because all aspects of human nature are matter, and the behavior of matter is wholly determined by physical laws. There is no “room” for free will. It’s noteworthy that physicists who have studied determinism in nature (specifically, in quantum mechanics) have for the most part rejected this deterministic view of free will and implicitly (if not explicitly) endorsed the reality of free will. There are two reasons for this. First, experiments that have followed from the…

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Choosing the High Road or Low Road

Does Science Disprove Free Will? A Physicist Says No

Marcelo Gleiser notes that the mind is not a solar system with strict deterministic laws

One of the most disturbing implications of materialism in modern science is the inference that science disproves the existence of free will. Of course, this is not actually the case, but even the mistaken denial of free will has profound and very disturbing implications for our social structure, our criminal justice system, and our way of government. People who are assumed to lack free will are ultimately little more than cattle to be herded and, as philosopher Hannah Arendt has observed, the denial of free will — and the denial of individual responsibility that follows on it — is a cornerstone of totalitarianism. At Big Think, physicist and philosopher Marcelo Gleiser points to the fallacy that physics and neuroscience disprove…

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workplace of  lawyer business in office. wooden gavel , contact papers ,justice and law ,attorney, court judge,burden of proof.

Theists vs. Atheists: Which Group Has the Burden of Proof?

Because Dillahunty refuses to debate me again, I’ll address his claim that atheists have no burden of proof in the debate over God’s existence in this post

A common refrain from those atheists who are willing to debate theists is that theists, not atheists, have the burden of proof in the debate over God’s existence. Internet atheist Matt Dillahunty made this claim in our recent debate. Regrettably, it looks doubtful that Dillahunty and I will debate again. He didn’t fare well—he had no real understanding of any of the ten classical proofs of God’s existence— and in the wake of his confused and rambling attempts at exculpation he refuses to debate me again. His reluctance is understandable—he was clearly shaken by the revelation that his rejection of the proofs of God’s existence isn’t based on any actual understanding on his part of the arguments. Like all other…

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Giraffe looking through a plane's window

Atheist Claims About Logical Fallacies Often Just Mean: Shut Up!

In the recent debate, Matt Dillahunty accuses theists of “the fallacy of the argument from personal incredulity” because we examine his claims and find them incredible

What does atheist Matt Dillahunty mean when he accuses theists of “the fallacy of the argument from personal incredulity”? Atheist rhetoric is a mish mash of ignorance, denial and pretense, often mingled with explicit or implicit efforts at censorship. Atheists travel in herds—contrary to their own inflated sense of their ‘freethought’ and ‘skepticism’, they are the most gullible idealogues. In debate with atheists, specific themes show up again and again, and atheist accusation of ‘the fallacy of the argument from personal incredulity’ is among the most common, usually aimed at Christians who challenge atheist arguments. Matt Dillahunty invoked ‘the fallacy of the argument from personal incredulity’ in our recent debate. It’s worthwhile examining what this ‘fallacy’ is and why atheists…

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Nuvole nel cielo azzurro

The Divine Hiddenness Argument Against God’s Existence = Nonsense

God in Himself is immeasurably greater than we are, and He transcends all human knowledge

In my recent debate with Matt Dillahunty about the existence of God, Dillahunty invoked his favorite argument against God’s existence — the Divine Hiddenness argument. We didn’t have a chance to go into that argument in detail in the debate, and Dillahunty is unwilling to have any more debates with me (even if he’s paid, apparently). So this is a good forum to look at that argument in more detail. What is the argument for atheism from God’s Hiddenness? This is a standard form of the argument from Divine Hiddenness against God’s existence: Necessarily, if God exists, then God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be. Necessarily, if God perfectly loves such finite persons as there may be,…

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Professional pano technician repairing hammer mechanism.

Weak Anthropic Principle? Not an Explanation but a Tautology!

Compared to the Strong Anthropic Principle — the universe is objectively fine-tuned for life — the Weak Anthropic Principle aims to avoid evidence and subvert discussion

My friend and colleague Dr. Bob Marks has a wonderful podcast with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz, regarding a recent paper they published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics on fine tuning for life in the universe. It’s very clear from astrophysics that many physical variables in the early universe needed to take very specific values — with very little margin for error — to permit the emergence of life. This is quite remarkable, and the authors have written a very nice paper exploring the probabilities involved in this apparent fine-tuning in considerable detail. It’ fascinating and I highly recommend listening to the podcast. In the most recent segment, “Our universe survived a firing…

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heaven cloud sky sunny bright for future wealth fortune day concept

Science Can and Does Point to God’s Existence

Natural science is not at all methodologically naturalist — it routinely points to causes outside of nature.

In my recent debate at Theology Unleashed, with Matt Dillahunty, Dillahunty made the claim that science necessarily follows methodological naturalism, allowing only for causes within nature. This is a common assertion by atheists. It’s wrong, and here’s why: First we need to start with the definition of science. Despite the huge literature on this topic and the great confusion about the answer, I think the answer is relatively simple. Classical philosophers defined science (scientia) as the systematic study of effects according to their causes. To clarify, consider the three assertions in this definition: 1) science is systematic — that is, it is not merely the occasional musing or haphazard insight but an organized planned course of action to deepen understanding.…

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Space cosmic background of supernova nebula and stars field

Leading Astronomer Gets It All Wrong About Free Will and Destiny

Logic and reason aren’t laws of physics and therefore they transcend physical properties

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, has recently written an essay in which he considers whether human beings have free will and how long the human race will survive. Loeb is a prolific and often quite thoughtful scientist who has a refreshing propensity to think outside the mainstream. However, his recent essay in Scientific American, titled “How Much Time Does Humanity Have Left?”, is well off the mark. I think he profoundly misunderstands human nature and human destiny. Loeb opines on the question of human free will: The Standard Model of physics presumes that we are all made of elementary particles with no additional constituents. As such composite systems, we do not possess freedom at a fundamental level, because all particles and…

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white knight chess piece

Atheist Spokesman Matt Dillahunty Refuses To Debate Me Again

Although he has said that he finds debates “incredibly valuable,” he is — despite much urging — making an exception in this case. Why?

I recently debated atheist Matt Dillahunty on Theology Unleashed,. Matt is an atheist activist and the former president of the Atheist Community of Austin, Texas. Since 2005 he has hosted the televised webcast The Atheist Experience and he has also hosted a live Internet radio show and founded Iron Chariots, a counter-apologetics project. From a bio sketch: Matt Dillahunty is a seasoned debater, the current president of the Atheist Community of Austin, and the well known host of The Atheist Experience. He has debated Jordan Peterson, David Wood and a host of other theists, and has shared stages with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Laurence Krauss. He is known for his cool headed logical arguments and philosophical abilities. Matt describes…

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Ultrasonic transducer on the blue background

A Neuroscience Theory That Actually Helps Explain the Brain

Robert Epstein’s “transducer” theory is an instance of getting something right

Many of my posts here at Mind Matters News entail debunking nonsensical materialist theories of the mind–brain relationship. It is altogether fitting and proper that I do so. But, at times, thoughtful and very promising ideas are proposed by modern neuroscientists. One of those ideas is discussed in an essay in Discover Magazine by neuroscientist Robert Epstein. Epstein, the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today Magazine, is a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California and holds a doctoral degree from Harvard University. He proposes that we re-examine a theory that has had a number of prominent proponents over the past several centuries. It is the theory that the brain is a type of…

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AI (Artificial Intelligence) concept. Deep learning. Mindfulness. Psychology.

Is Brain Science Helping Us Understand Belief in God?

To the extent that materialist researchers are still looking for a God switch in the brain, no, it doesn’t

A recent article about a Harvard neuroscientist’s research on the correlates of religious experience in the brain raises many familiar questions about the relevance of neuroscience to religious experience. Michael Ferguson is a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School. He grew up as a Mormon and was quite religious. But, he reports, his beliefs have changed. That’s probably fairly common at Harvard –- there is a pervasive and palpable bias against serious religious beliefs in many of our leading universities. Nonetheless, Ferguson thought, As a scientist, I can’t help but wonder what it is about these types of [religious] experiences that made them feel so rich and so profound. Emma Yasinski, “Religion on the Brain” at The Scientist (Jul 13, 2021)…

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chemin vers le brouillard

Remembering a Biologist’s Remarkable Confession of Faith

Is it scientific misconduct to make science about materialist atheism?

My friend and colleague Casey Luskin has penned a poignant essay in memory of Richard Lewontin, a Harvard evolutionary biologist who passed away at 92 recently. Casey is a gentleman and a scholar, and very much disposed to finding the best in people. Indeed it seems there was much that was very good in Lewontin’s persona, and Casey highlighted it beautifully in his encomium. I am not of the opinion, however, that we should speak only good of the dead. The passing of a public figure is a good time to consider his impact, and Lewontin’s impact on American culture and science is something very much worth considering. By all accounts, Lewontin was a gentleman and a good friend and…

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Light rays through the black window. Toned photo

Can LSD Help Us Understand the Mind–Brain Relationship?

Is the mind generated by the brain or does the brain merely focus the mind on the current scene? An experiment sheds some light

In a fascinating article inThe Guardian titled “Acid test: scientists show how LSD opens doors of perception,” science editor Ian Sample discusses recent research on the mechanism by which LSD alters the brain and the mind. He begins by quoting Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) who noted that LSD “lowers the efficiency of the brain as an instrument for focusing the mind on the problems of life.” Remarkably, recent work in neuroscience supports Huxley’s view. The research, conducted at Cornell University, confirms what has been called the Rebus model of psychedelics. Rebus is a rough acronym for “relaxed beliefs under psychedelics”; the model proposes that the brain is essentially a prediction engine for daily life. In this model, the brain processes information…

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double exposure of the Passion of the Christ

The Brain Prosperity Gospel: Can “Neurotheology” Be Real Science?

The study of the neuroscience of mental states, including religious belief, is a reasonable pursuit but neurotheology, as a science, faces huge obstacles

Neurotheology is the study of the neuroscience associated with spiritual experience. It is a growing field. In a recent essay, Andrew Newberg, a prominent researcher, discusses recent advances: The field of neurotheology continues to expand from its early origins several decades ago to the present day. In its simplest definition, neurotheology refers to the field of scholarship that seeks to understand the relationship between the brain and our religious and spiritual selves. As I always like to say, it is important to consider both sides of neurotheology very broadly. Thus, the “neuro” side includes brain imaging, psychology, neurology, medicine, and even anthropology. And the “theology” side includes theology itself, but also various aspects related to religious beliefs, attitudes, practices, and…