Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Off to Europe!

I'll be traveling in Europe for the next two weeks to attend two conferences. I've been invited to speak on the mind and neuroscience in Poland and Florence. Should be very interesting and a lot of fun!

I'm taking my youngest (college-age) daughter with me, so it'll be a great father-daughter time as well. We'll take a side trip to Rome, and spend a day at the Vatican. I've long dreamed of attending Mass at St. Peter's!

There are posts in queue each day, and I've tried to make them as topical as I can. I may be commenting a bit less for a couple of weeks, due to the travel.


  1. Commissar Boggs, Ministry of TruthMay 21, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    Have a great trip, Doc, and enjoy St Peter's. If at all possible, do not miss the Catacombs of Priscilla. They serve as an enduring reminder of how Christian communities can thrive in the face of hatred.

  2. Are they quack conferences where you get paid to tell religious people what they want to hear, or real professional conferences were you’ll have to hide what you really think or get laughed out of the room? Enjoy your trip.


    1. Commissar Boggs, Ministry of TruthMay 21, 2014 at 7:19 AM

      Bask in the envy, Doc. It's one way you know when you're doing a great job.

    2. If belief in God makes other people laugh, mock, ridicule, et al. that's a small price to pay, for you see, they have no power over the soul. When you're standing before Jesus, you'll come to the realization that eternal life wasn't something to be disregarded in favor of worthless social status.

    3. Commissar Boggs, Ministry of TruthMay 21, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      Michael, WADR, I seriously doubt negative commentary from Popeye (or his ilk, like Trog the Dutch Boi) would have a detectable effect on either one's social status or one's own self-regard.

      In fact, it's more fun than "being stoned to death" with Nerf balls at a children's birthday party. Enjoy, amigo.

    4. Commissar Boggs, Ministry of TruthMay 21, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      Always somebody to blame for your failure... right, Popeye?

  3. Have a great time Dr. Egnor. Where in Poland will you be? It's a beautiful country. I have family in Warsaw and Krakow.

    Also, what will you be presenting on specifically?

    Enjoy your trip!

    1. Commissar Boggs, Ministry of TruthMay 21, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Many thanks to your forebears and Jan III Sobieski (The Lion of Lechistan), Curio. The West should never forget the mighty deeds at the Gates of Vienna.

    2. Curio:

      I'm flying into Kracow and staying in Wisla.

      I've always wanted to visit Poland, because of the rich history and the courageous people, and because of our beloved Saint JPII, Poland's great gift to the world.

      St. JP's tomb is in St. Peter's basilica, and I plan to pray at it. He's a saint I venerate with particular gratitude and love.

      In Wisla, I'll be speaking on intentionality and philosophy of the mind, focusing on the failure of materialism to account for it and on the insight that Thomistic dualism offers. The conference is the European Leadership Forum, which is devoted to re-evangelizing Eastern Europe. Attendees will be Christian scientists, philosophers, educators and doctors.

      In Florence, I'm speaking at a secular meeting. My topic is the unexpected insights provided by philosophy of the mind in the 20th century from the standpoint of natural science.

      Should be a lot of fun.

    3. Rome will just be a fun side-trip between the meetings, with my daughter.

    4. Boggs - Indeed! You'd be surprised how few Americans know of Poland's history and legacy.

      Egnor - Wow, great. Is the conference open to the public? If so, I should get my sister to go and take diligent notes so that I can live vicariously through her.

      Both of your talks sound fascinating. Would you consider giving us readers a synopsis of both talks in future posts? I still have a few lingering questions about how contemporary neuroscience squares with hylemorphic dualism.

    5. And I'll pray for St. JP II's intercession that your trip be safe and fruitful. He is a special saint in my heart as well.

    6. Commissar Boggs, Ministry of TruthMay 21, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      St. JP has your six, Doc:

      Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth...
      --- Pope John Paul II

    7. Curio and Boggs and all:

      Thanks for the prayers and good wishes. I'd be delighted to blog on the talks. It's interesting stuff.

      The Wisla talk is public in a sense, but you have to register for the conference. It is a great conference, though. Here's the link:

      I'm speaking in the scientific network.

    8. I'm speaking in the scientific network.


    9. Troy - Several decades of research in neuroscience and surgery are not enough to qualify one to speak as a scientist?

      Even if you disagree profoundly with Dr. Egnor's views on religion, evolution, global warming, etc. you still ought to countenance his authority on the brain. I know young earth creationists with PhDs in chemistry. I don't think they are qualified to speak about the age of the earth, though they're likely in the 98th percentile of Americans when it comes to knowledge of chemistry. Are they scientists? If your answer is in the negative, there is no reasonable way to demarcate "scientists" from "non-scientists".

      Don't be a jerk.

    10. Hi Curio,

      Troy - Several decades of research in neuroscience and surgery are not enough to qualify one to speak as a scientist?

      Sure they are - even allowing for the fact that Egnor has a pretty poor publication record for a scientist. Egnor is a very good brain surgeon as far as I can tell, and I admire him for that. It's just that he will be speaking about a non-scientific subject way outside of his area of expertise. In his own words:

      In Wisla, I'll be speaking on intentionality and philosophy of the mind, focusing on the failure of materialism to account for it and on the insight that Thomistic dualism offers.

      I'm seriously thinking of flying over to Wisla just to see this for fun, but teaching obligations might interfere. Perhaps Egnor would be so kind to post more details of the time and place of his lecture.

    11. troy:

      Monday morning. It's on the schedule at the link. You would have to register for the conference.

      Nice people, and great talks. John Lennox will be speaking, and he's wonderful. We'd love to have you.

    12. Damn, gotta teach then. First day of the course. Anyway, thanks and have a good time.

    13. How does localization of function in the cortex square with Thomistic dualism? Thomistic dualism says that everything but the intellect and will is material, so that makes sense. Visual and auditory cortex produces phantasms, I got that. But what about discrete brain regions that seem to be responsible for understanding different types of concepts?

      I realize I'm catching you with a tough question at a bad time. If there are any other Thomists here with a knowledge of brain science, I'd be happy to let them field this.

    14. You see, the premise behind the ridicule of Egnor's scientific qualifications rests on the premise of a secular-atheist worldview, which is absurd since there have been many great Christian scientists. Apparently you cannot be a good/true scientist, doctor, teacher, artist, etc. unless the militant atheists validate your credentials (i.e. world view).

  4. Have a good trip (*)

    (*) Europe! while it's still there. ;)

  5. Have fun in Rome, Egnor. It's a marvelous city and now is a good time to visit, climate-wise. I have visited St Peter's 4 times (with 4 different girlfriends, last one current wife) and, surprisingly, I didn't get struck down by lightning. Don't wear shorts though, because they won't let you in, as I discovered. I guess the priests can't control their urges upon seeing uncovered legs of men, especially well-shaped muscular ones like mine. I can also recommend fried squid a la romana.

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