I just finished a book by British Philosopher, and atheist, Thomas Nagel called Mind & Cosmos. The reason I read it was because of the subtitle: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. It’s a short but very dense read by a philosopher of very big mind, much bigger than mine. I had to read some passages over several times to try to figure out what he was saying, and even then I couldn’t figure it out. I did understand enough to realize that it was a colossal enterprise of spitting into the wind, of trying to hold on to a worldview that he knows has zero explanatory power. As the blurb for the book puts it, Nagel “argues that the widely accepted world view of materialist naturalism is untenable.” Right, but he’s obviously determined to not give up his materialist naturalism; the futility of the enterprise is pathetic. I don’t mean that as a put down, but that it’s sad to see such a brilliant man work so hard to deny the obvious.

Over and over again he points to the only logical conclusion of his musings, but he can’t allow the conclusion to be God. Here are a few quotes to make the point:

The existence of conscious minds and their access to the evident truths of ethics and mathematics are among the data that a theory of the world has yet to explain.

Really? How about God! The eternal conscious mind who created all conscious minds? Nope, can’t go there. How about:

The respective inadequacies of materialism and theism as transcendent conceptions, and the impossibility of abandoning the search for a transcendent view of our place in the universe, lead to the hope for an expanded but still naturalistic understanding that avoids psychophysical reductionism.

What does that even mean! So, we can have some explanation of the universe that is at once transcendent and still naturalistic? Some explanation that transcends the materialist conception of the universe, matter is all that there is, but somehow transcends matter? This kind of nonsense is all over this little book. The man is desperate to hold on to his atheism in spite of a universe that makes his atheism absurd. One more:

I do not find theism any more credible than materialism as a comprehensive world view. My interest is in the territory between them. I believe that these two radically opposed conceptions of ultimate intelligibility cannot exhaust the possibilities.

Between? Really? Let me interpret this with a question. He realizes the bankruptcy of materialism, and believes that God certainly can’t exist, so there must be something in between? Like what? Something that transcends materialism that isn’t material but isn’t God? As “they” say, clutching at straws. I think what Paul said in Romans 1 is a much more satisfying answer to his dilemma: “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so they are without excuse. ” As I said in my previous post, scientific knowledge is making the invisible qualities of God more visible than ever before, but as we can see with Mr. Nagel, it is only to those God has given eyes to see the obvious. If you refuse to see, you write books like Mind & Cosmos.

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