Michael Egnor: The fact that the universe is tuned — that is, the fact there is any consistency at all in the laws of physics — demonstrates God’s existence. This is Aquinas’ Fifth Way, which is the proof from design.
Egnor: The problem is, to make their claim credible, [Novella and Goff] must show that there actually are localities in the universe in which the laws of physics differ in a way that would make fine tuning likely by chance.
Michael Egnor replies, “The assertion that self is an illusion is not even wrong — it’s self-refuting, like saying “I don’t exist” or “Misery is green”
Egnor thinks that while physicist Alan Sokal hoaxed postmodern journals (the famous Sokal hoax. of 1996), materialists like Francis Crick (1916–2004) seem to hoax themselves.
Egnor is responding to a reader’s question about whether neuroscience has disproven free will.
Michael Egnor: Both an intelligent designer (assuming we’re talking about God) and a black hole are supernatural, in the sense that they are not objects in the natural world. This may not surprise you about God, but it is also true of black holes.
Egnor: Our mental life is a composite of abilities — arousal, sensation, perception, locomotion, reason, etc., and these abilities appear to subsist in modified form despite dramatic changes in the body and brain.
Egnor: I agree that design in nature is an effective challenge to materialism. But I also believe that the mind refutes materialism in a rather straightforward way—and in much the same way that evidence of intelligent design in biology refutes materialism…
Novella has said that a recent study of mice disproves mind-body dualism.
Michael Egnor: “Except for action of any quantum events”? I challenge Coyne: What in nature isn’t the action of quantum events? Certainly, every event in the brain is quantum in nature—every brain state, every action potential, every secretion of a neurotransmitter, every bit of protein synthesis or ion flow—is the consequence of quantum events.
Egnor: “An intellectual seizure would be a seizure that caused abstract thought, such as logic, or reasoning, or mathematics. People never have, for example, mathematics seizures—seizures in which they involuntarily do calculus or arithmetic. This observation, which is as true today as it was in Penfield’s time nearly a century ago, begs for explanation.” He offers an argument for the immaterial powers of the mind.
Egnor: [fMRI isn’t decisive.] But fMRI is worthless in the neuroscience of free will. To understand why, note that fMRI has very poor temporal resolution. fMRI measures changes in blood flow in the brain in response to activity of neurons, and these changes lag neuronal activity by at least several seconds.
Scientists weigh in on both sides but accepting free will allows us to avoid some serious problems around logic and personal freedom.
Egnor: Now let’s get to the neuroscience. Neuroscience has a lot to contribute to the debate over free will and all of it supports the reality of free will. There isn’t a shred of neuroscientific evidence that contradicts the reality of free will.
We must believe – take on faith – that the universe is a certain sort of universe for logic to make sense to us.