If the mind and brain are not identical, Naturalism is false

In order for Naturalism to be true, there can not exist any non-physical phenomena.  The differentiation between the mind and brain demonstrates — clearly, I think — that Naturalism cannot be true.  One example I believe is most compelling is that I am not physically identical to who I was even moments ago.  But more to the point, I’m not identical to who I was a decade ago physically speaking, yet it was me, and I am me now.  We are who we are for reasons other than how we appear to others physically.

From Wintery Knight:

1) First-person access to mental properties

  • Thought experiment: Imagine your dream car, and picture it clearly in your mind
  • If we invited an artist to come and sketch out your dream car, then we could see your dream car’s shape on paper
  • This concept of your dream car is not something that people can see by looking at your brain structure
  • Physical properties can be physically accessed, but the properties of your dream care and privately accessed

2) Our experience of consciousness implies that we are not our bodies

  • Common sense notion of personhood is that we own our bodies, but we are not our bodies

3) Persistent self-identity through time

  • Thought experiment: replacing a new car with an old car one piece at a time
  • When you change even the smallest part of a physical object, it changes the identity of that object
  • Similarly, your body is undergoing changes constantly over time
  • Every cell in your body is different from the body you had 10 years ago
  • Even your brain cells undergo changes (see this from New Scientist – WK)
  • If you are the same person you were 10 years ago, then you are not your physical body

4) Mental properties cannot be measured like physical objects

  • Physical objects can be measured (e.g. – use physical measurements to measure weight, size, etc.)
  • Mental properties cannot be measured

5) Intentionality or About-ness

  • Mental entities can refer to realities that are physical, something outside of themselves
  • A tree is not about anything, it just is a physical object
  • But you can have thoughts about the tree out there in the garden that needs water

6) Free will and personal responsibility

  • If humans are purely physical, then all our actions are determined by sensory inputs and genetic programming
  • Biological determinism is not compatible with free will, and free will is required for personal responsibility
  • Our experience of moral choices and moral responsibility requires free will, and free will requires minds/souls

If the entirety of the universe is only physical, it must be eternally existent.  The universe is not eternally existent, hence it had a beginning.  If the universe had a beginning, God must exist due to the impossibility of a thing bringing itself into existence.

The universe exists contingently, the universe does not have to exist.  There must be a reason that it does now exist.  Because the universe is contingent, its beginning must be a personal agent who freely chooses to create the universe in time.  If the cause were purely material and naturalistic, that would mean that as soon as the sufficient and efficient causes were in place, the universe would then automatically be forced into existence.  This would have had to happen an infinite time ago, again which is impossible.  We must conclude the universe had a changeless, timeless, immaterial, agent as the cause of the universe and can therefore be accounted for by an agent with volition.


  1. wiley16350 says:

    The funny thing about atheists, is how often they contradict the worldview they profess to believe in. This is one of the areas they do it often. They’ll complain about people believing in God despite the fact that if their worldview is correct, we can do nothing to change our belief, we must wait for the chemicals in our brain to change, for our belief to change. This leads into Atheists complaints about Christians brainwashing children to be Christians. How does the immaterial voice change another persons material brain chemistry so that they can believe something different. The real kicker is that evolution has made Christians idiots by making them believe in something that isn’t real and made atheists idiots for thinking that Christians are at fault for believing in something that isn’t real. If atheism and evolution are true, then the jokes on us, because we’re all just a bunch of idiots without any control of what we do and what we believe.

  2. Seriously wrong on many levels. Just to pick one example, “This concept of your dream car is not something that people can see by looking at your brain structure
    Physical properties can be physically accessed, but the properties of your dream care and privately accessed” – actually, one *can* (at least in principle, and partially in practice) access the properties of your dream from the activity of your brain. Although it is beyond current technology to reproduce the details of a car, they have been able to reproduce some images. See Jack Gallant’s work at Berkeley for the latest. Are they looking at brain *structure* – not really – it’s brain *activity* which is the same as mind.

    Arguments from incredulity don’t carry one very far.

    • Brian, youre missing the point. If I picture a red car in my mind, there is no red car in my brain.

      When you dissect the brain, you will always find chemicals and biomatter, youll never find the words im thinking or the images im picturing, only correlating physicalities. Thus the brain and mind are not identical.

  3. If you consider the activity of the brain as the mind, then you wouldnt be surprised when you dissect the brain and find no activity and no mind. You would also not be surrpised that there are no cars in the brain, only representations of them. Why is this a problem?

    Finally, saying the mind and brain are different is no big claim – they are different. The *functioning* of the brain and the mind are the same, or perhaps a better way to phrase it is that the mind is the product of the functioning of the brain. Does that help?

  4. My book “Embrace the Infinite” treats many of these issues.

    I don’t know what you mean by “Naturalism”. It appears to be incompatible with religion or God. Even if Naturalism is false, that does not imply there is a God in the traditional Christian sense.

    I’ll re-phrase what I mean. Go ahead and define “God” based on your faith. The fact that Naturalism is not correct does not imply that your particular notion of God is correct.

    Where we likely agree is in the existence of a “non-material universe”. Perhaps you are suggesting that “Naturalism” means everything in the universe is material. I present discussions in my book that refute this point. There are things that are not material, and not subject to scientific investigation. This has commonality with what you are saying.

    I would tend to agree that many atheists believe that everything that exists is material. More enlightened atheists might realize this notion is false, that there are non-material things. Once this non-material universe is acknowledged, one is led closer to concepts of God, although I cannot state that God is revealed in the Bible just because there is a non-material world.

    My own view is that we are far from understanding God. I particularly don’t like it when Christians claim to know what God wants for us, or what God is “thinking”. Example: do you really believe that ChristianMingle.com creates couples that God favors? Yet, that’s their claim. Quote: “Find God’s Match For You”. Ridiculous!

    • Anthony

      I think if naturalism, the idea tjat only the physical world exists, is not true, the it must follow that a monotheistic personal God must exist. This leaves the Judeo-Christian God or the God of Islam. Given that if the Quran is true, then then Islam is false, were left with the Judeo-Christian God.

      Im not near a computer right now, but if you search the site here for “dont take it personally” and “if the quran is thre then islam is false” youll have my rationale.

  5. paynehollow says:

    John, I’m just curious, where you state, “If naturalism is not true, then it must follow that a monotheistic personal God must exist…” what is your reasoning there?

    Of course, I don’t disagree with the belief in the monotheistic personal God, I just don’t see it rationally following. If you could explain, that would be great.



  6. paynehollow says:

    Already did that. Got nothing that makes sense in this context. If I google those phrases, substituting in correct spellings, I get a bunch of anti-Islam propaganda (Jesus is lord.com/ISLAM EXPOSED and bibleprobe.com/true history of Islam, etc), but nothing that I saw that explains why, if naturalism is not true, then you are left with a monotheistic God.

    I mean, if naturalism isn’t true – if there ARE things or explanations out there beyond what we can physically see and sense in the natural world – then why could ghosts or polytheistic gods explain it? Or some other supernatural explanation?

    I’m sorry, I’m not following. Could you explain the reasoning, please?



  7. paynehollow says:

    My apologies, I misunderstood.


  8. paynehollow says:

    So, I’m reading through and thinking through the post about “don’t take it personally…” I don’t get any obvious responses when I type in “then islam is false” or any variants of that, except for the post, “according to the quran, the quran is false…” is that the one?

    Immediately (in the former post), I’m faced with questions that arise from claims that you make as if they were evidently true but you have not said why they are evidently true.

    For instance, you said…

    The transcendent cause must therefore be immaterial and changeless, since timelessness entails changelessness, and changelessness implies immateriality (entropy).

    Why? Why must the transcendent cause be immaterial? Why could the cause not be a material god or gods or and unknown entity known as infinity-goblins? Why must this Cause be changeless? Why does timelessness entail changelessness?

    We personally evolve over time (individually, societally…) why must this Cause be changeless? Why does timelessness “entail” changelessness…”?

    Perhaps this is just a case of you knowing vastly more about the Science of the Eternal and I’m just missing something out of ignorance. But, if so, would you mind helping my ignorance and explain these why these claims “must be…”?

    Again, I don’t disagree that naturalism is not sufficient to explain all things, I just don’t get that one can – and must – reason to your conclusion about how it must be a monotheistic god. I would be interested in knowing how one can do that, though.

    Would you argue something along the lines of CS Lewis’ line of thinking in “Mere Christianity…”?



  9. paynehollow says:

    Does the lack of response mean you made a mistake in your original claims, or just that you haven’t had time to respond? Or that you simply don’t have a good explanation but don’t know what to say?

    In this case, I’d like to believe what you’re suggesting. I think CS Lewis has made a decent effort at making a case. But I just don’t see that you’ve made a case here, just offered a series of unsupported claims. If you can support the claims, I’d really like to see it. If you can’t, I think it actually weakens the point when you assert a point as a fact, but then are unable to support it, so perhaps owning up to over-stating the point would be best.



    • My lack of response is due to me not feeling like arguing this with you, specifically.

      The fact that your views persistently align with atheists and non christians should trouble you, but it doesnt. So thats why I’ll wait for someone who admits theyre not a christian to discuss this with.

  10. I made a blog post on this, so I could address things point by point. Let me know what you think!


  11. paynehollow says:


    My lack of response is due to me not feeling like arguing this with you, specifically.

    ? I AGREE on the principle involved. I just don’t think making bad arguments to support a principle on which I agree is a good thing. If you can, you know, actually support your argument – on a point WITH WHICH I AGREE – then you’ll be helping me and supporting the point on which you and I agree. But if you are making unsupportable, weak arguments, then it behooves us both to remove them or admit their weakness.

    Since when is supporting a point on which WE AGREE “arguing…”?

Any Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: