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At Mind Matters News: Round 3: Egnor vs Papineau: The Big Bang has no natural beginning

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In the debate between theistic neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and naturalist (physicalist) philosopher David Papineau, the question gets round to the origin of the universe itself:

Michael Egnor: What was the physical cause of the big bang? …

David Papineau: None, because that’s… Look, okay, the big bang doesn’t have a cause, right? I say that’s not a counterexample…

Michael Egnor: No, I think it has a cause. I very much think it has a cause.

David Papineau:I think it doesn’t have a cause, but I don’t take that to be a counterexample to my causal closure thesis. Now, do you follow what I’m saying there or not? Sorry, I …

Michael Egnor: I follow what you’re saying, but it strikes me as a case of special pleading. You’ve been arguing for this neat universe, where every physical effect has a physical cause, and I’ve shown you that the entire universe itself, which is a physical effect, did not have a physical cause, because the singularity of the big bang isn’t a physical thing.

David Papineau: Let’s try once more. If you say it doesn’t have a cause, I’ll say it’s not an effect, and therefore not a counterexample to my thesis.

Michael Egnor: We both agree. Every effect has a cause. I’m saying that there are physical effects that don’t have physical causes. The Big Bang is one.

David Papineau: I think you need to listen to what I’m saying, but let’s try it differently. I think you’re using effect synonymously with event, right? I am not claiming that every physical event has a physical cause, because I think the Big Bang doesn’t have a cause. I think there’s some physical events that don’t have physical causes.

Michael Egnor: I don’t agree with you. I think every event has a cause …

David Papineau: I think we’re getting sidetracked here. Let’s look at the more interesting issue.

It will not surprise many readers to learn that the more interesting issue revolves around … the human mind. Stay tuned!

News, “Round 3: Egnor vs Papineau: The Big Bang has no natural beginning” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: Egnor maintains that the Big Bang, which is held to have created the universe, is an effect with no physical cause. Papineau agrees.

You may also wish to read the earlier portions of the 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.

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.

6 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Round 3: Egnor vs Papineau: The Big Bang has no natural beginning

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    His response is embarrassingly delightful

    I think ChuckyD and seversky have put a better arguments then this guy did

    And ChuckyD is just a troll

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    David Papineau: Let’s try once more. If you say it doesn’t have a cause, I’ll say it’s not an effect, and therefore not a counterexample to my thesis.

    But Michael Egnor didn’t claim that the universe didn’t have a cause, but rather the opposite–that science is the disciplined study of cause and effect, including the universe itself. And how can the universe cause the universe?

    All David Papineau is doing in this exchange is obfuscation.

    -Q

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    @Q

    Exactly
    And what’s funny is he doesn’t believe that the universe or the big bang has a cause therefore according to that logic there is no effect

    But he accuses Egnor of this even though Egnor says several times he believes the universe has a cause

  4. 4
    AaronS1978 says:

    Mind matters just released around four, it’s brilliant

    Papineau has the best argument I’ve ever heard “I wrote a book, that’s why I’m right”

    And then he goes right into mocking Egnor’s perspective by calling at magic mind stuff

    So far this is his strongest argument is calling it magic mind stuff and then suddenly he just seems more sophisticated because of a narrative that he created that has nothing to do with Egnor does perspective

    Literally amateur atheist argument tactics
    If you ridicule your opponents point of view, you’re right! BOOM! Chuckdarwin does that all the time

    This is brilliant where are all our token easiest to come to this guys rescue

    I mean this is literally the worst I have ever seen anybody argue

    We can learn something from this though whenever an atheist argues with us we just have to call them stupid and tell them how shit doesn’t magically pop into existence out of nowhere like the big bang bag

    So pretty much attacked their character attack their point of view as if they are intellectual idiots and avoid all of their questions

    Thank you Papineau you’re a great teacher

  5. 5
    doubter says:

    Unfortunately I think Michael Egnor got into trouble with his argument, though the problem wasn’t caught by Papineau. I suppose that isn’t surprising given Papineau’s level of wisdom or lack of it in these philosophical matters.

    Michael Egnor: I don’t agree with you. I think every event has a cause …

    The problem with this position is that it invokes determinism as underlying all of reality. Since this reality includes events in consciousness, in turn this position makes true free will impossible. The free will issue was well covered by Egnor in previous debates, but I don’t think it ever spilled over into cosmology and the origin of the Big Bang.

    It seems to me that Papineau may actually be right that some events (events of intentionality in consciousness to be precise) do not have proximate causes. Of course, all physical events (including the Big Bang) have causes. Anyway, this would rescue free will, which we know must exist based on much other evidence and reasoning. Of course, Papineau didn’t intend this validation of free will since I would assume that like most materialists he denies true free will. This appears to be yet another incoherence in his argumentation for materialism.

  6. 6
    AaronS1978 says:

    @ doubter
    I caught that too
    At first I was shocked papineau didn’t catch it but after listing to him I wasn’t surprised he didn’t

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