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Science Uprising, Episode 2: Mind Denial

David Klinghoffer

mind denial

“We are robots made out of meat, which is what I’m going to try to convince you of today.” So says evolutionist Jerry Coyne in the second episode of the counterprogramming video series Science Uprising. Coyne, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris serve as the foils for the episode, up against neuroscientists Jeffrey Schwartz and Michael Egnor.

The question: Does the organ of the brain house the personality, the intellect, totally so that the “inescapable I” of the subjective self is reducible to three pounds of flesh? So say atheists and mind deniers Coyne, Dennett, and Harris, and college students and media consumers are similarly instructed. The denial of free will, of the soul, require the brain to be just that. 

But as Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Egnor argue, if Harris et al. were right, then research should not show that thought can change the brain (mind over matter), as it can. If materialists were right, Benjamin Libet’s experiments demonstrating “free won’t” should have had different results. Wilder Penfield should have been able to reach into the brain and alter the intellect or the “sense of self.” Dr. Egnor describes operations he himself has performed, separating the two halves the brain, in which the patient’s personality nevertheless remains unified. 

All this is against the expectations of the materialist cultural and scientific hegemony. But they never tell you that, do they? Find the episode here:

“Materialists are realists, in a sense,” says Egnor, summing up. “They understand that materialism cannot explain the mind. Rather than abandoning materialism, they abandon the mind.”

Photo: Professor Michael Egnor, Stony Brook University, in a scene from “Mind: The Inescapable I,” second episode of Science Uprising.