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.