Philosopher Thomas Nagel has been getting a lot of ink these days, pro and con, for trying to rescue serious traditional atheism from the materialist dump site (in which we all evolved so that we would not believe in materialism—which is really true anyhow—so, go figure … ).
So who is Thomas Nagel and why should we care? Nagel is best known for his famous essay, “What is it like to be a bat?”, in which he acknowledges the limits of human understanding of animal minds. What is less well known is that he named Steve Meyer’s ID-friendly Signature in the Cell (Harper One) a Book of the Year for 2009, for raising key issues. After questioning whether the human intellect is explicable on Darwinian principles, he went on to publish Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False (Oxford University Press: 2013). He is one of the most significant defectors from Darwinism to date. Yet he says, “I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”*
Reviewer Terry Scambray thinks Nagel is on to something, but that no accommodation with materialism really works:
Nagel’s probes or “speculations,” the word he consistently uses, are characteristic of the style of much of the book which is sketchy when it isn’t down right contradictory.
For example, while he trashes Darwinian natural selection as a phony explanation for how minds were made, nonetheless, he continues to believe that natural selection has explanatory power. And though he correctly understands that a materialist explanation of mind destroys any notion of “values” while skewing even the baked-in imperatives of logic, nonetheless, he sees Darwinian evolution as the only credible support for materialistic solutions to all the big issues, including the mind problem.
And while he is grateful to individuals like Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer for showing the weaknesses in evolutionary explanations, Nagel notes that they both “are motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs.” And whereas David Berlinski is also given a pat on the head for dissecting Darwin’s theory without having ulterior “religious” motives, he is also commended for refraining from advocating design.
Apparently Dr. Nagel, wants to have his cake and eat it too. Read, for example, this sentence: “Those who have seriously criticized these arguments have certainly shown that there are ways to resist the design conclusion; but the general force of the negative part of the intelligent design position—skepticism about the likelihood of the orthodox reductive view, given the available evidence—does not appear to me to have been destroyed in these exchanges.”
Hard to track ? More.
Hard to track? Hard to say. Nagel’s biggest problem is probably to hold off Darwin’s thugs, which even the great Karl Popper was unable to do.
These days, only a person who just does not care what some government’s tagged herd is currently fed can afford to really genuinely doubt Darwin or any key materialist hero.
Movies: The History of the World in Two Hours and, oh, on two legs …
Where human uniqueness apparently does NOT lie …
Linguist: What we can and can’t learn about vanished languages, and how
Can we really identify words that have come down to us from 10,000 years ago?
* Thomas Nagel, The Last Word (Oxford University Press: 1997), pp. 130-131: http://tinyurl.com/4yh27e5