In my recent debate with David Papineau about materialism and dualism, much of our discussion turned on the question of causal closure. Materialists generally argue that dualism of mind and brain is not possible because of causal closure — by which they mean that all physical effects have physical causes. They generally extend this argument to deny the existence of God. They argue that the fundamental cause of everything is just the material universe and that causation of the universe by God would violate causal closure and would be unintelligible. To the question “What caused the universe?” atheists and materialists argue that the universe is not an effect but exists in its own right and therefore does not need a cause.
To buttress their argument, materialists claim that modern physics affirms causal closure.
They Couldn’t Be More Wrong
As I noted, causal closure means that all physical effects have physical causes. Modern physics is replete with examples of physical effects that have no physical causes and cannot have physical causes.Michael Egnor, “Is the Universe Causally Closed?” at Evolution News and Science Today
Egnor goes on to cite the Big Bang, singularities in black holes, and the field equations of curved space-time, quantum entanglement, and — of course — the immaterial mind.
That should be enough to keep the average materialist busy thinking up purely material explanations. 😉
See also: Other fun moments in the Egnor–Papineau debate:
Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor takes on philosopher David Papineau
Round 1. In the debate, Egnor begins by offering three fundamental reasons why the mind is not the brain. Neuroscience caused Egnor to honestly doubt Papineau’s materialist perspective that the mind is simply what the brain does.
Round 2: Philosopher Papineau replies to neurosurgeon Egnor. Dr. Papineau is considered to be one of the best defenders of naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism.” Papineau: Mental processes, including conscious processes, are one in the same as physical processes. I’m curious about how Michael Egnor would answer it.
Round 3: Egnor vs Papineau: The Big Bang has no natural beginning. In the debate between theistic neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and naturalist philosopher David Papineau, the question gets round to the origin of the universe itself. Egnor maintains that the Big Bang, which is held to have created the universe, is an effect with no physical cause. Papineau agrees.
Round 4: Egnor vs. Papineau Egnor defends the mind vs. the brain
Round 4: Philosopher David Papineau does not feel that neurosurgeon Michael Egnor is being “entirely helpful” at this point… It became quite the dustup actually. Egnor deals with the brain as an organ, not a theory, and doesn’t see it as equivalent to the mind. Papineau differs.
Round 5: Can traditional philosophy help us understand mind vs. brain? Michael Egnor asks us to look back to the traditional idea that the soul is the “form” of the body. In the Western world, the traditional view of the soul originated with Greek philosophers, chiefly Aristotle and Plato.
Quantum physics: Is everything determined? Egnor vs. Papineau Physicalist philosopher David Papineau is clearly unhappy with the implications of quantum mechanics, as neurosurgeon Michael Egnor sets them out. As a physicalist, Papineau is quite sure that the universe is deterministic and he endorses the many-worlds (multiverse) theory.
Also: Philosopher: Consciousness Is Not a Problem. Dualism Is! He says that consciousness is just “brain processes that feel like something” Physicalist David Papineau argues that consciousness “seems mysterious not because of any hidden essence, but only because we think about it in a special way.” In short, it’s all in our heads. But wait, say others, the hard problem of consciousness is not so easily dismissed.