Philiosopher Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False is short enough to entice even the Darwinian fellow-travelers, but the book’s 144 pages are “tightly argued and exacting,” M. D. Aeschliman says in the November 12 National Review.
Aeshliman, professor emeritus of education at Boston University, is eager to showcase the several ways Nagel defends intelligent design proponents. Nagel, at least a nominal atheist, doesn’t buy capital letter “Intelligent Design,” but does seem to accept what Aeshliman says “we may call lowercase intelligent design, or the fundamental rationality of the universe in its major enduring features.”
After all, Nagel writes, “Science is driven by the assumption that the world is intelligible.” Indeed, unconsciously echoing C. S. Lewis, Nagel points out the self-contradicting nature of materialist reasoning. If our thinking is only the product of evolution, how certain is any of it, including the reductionist proposition? “The reality of consciousness and cognition cannot be plausibly reconciled,” says Nagel, “with scientific naturalism.”
Evolution made a brief appearance in the Republican primaries this year, then sank out of political sight. That is just as well. Getting back to first principles, as Nagel does, will do more to clear the air of cant, whether from academia or legislative chambers, than any attempt at political argument.