|Atheist-No-Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
It's a review in The Weekly Standard of atheist Thomas Nagel's new book Mind and Cosmos with its provocative sub-title: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.
It says some things I've been saying for years (just does it 10X better). One is that materialistic atheism -- because atheism is our day and age is materialistic -- is unlivable and nobody behaves like a materialistic atheist in practice.
Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.Another is that when the atheist "kills" God, he kills himself, by which I mean one loses access to what makes us truly human -- the authenticity and reality of noble ideals, aspirations, love, hopes, dreams, etc. We are nothing more than animals scavenging for survival, the product of nothing more than cosmic burps, of no more value or significance than a rock or potato. Yet this contradicts deeply held intuitions about ourselves, intuitions upon which, e.g., the entire Western human rights apparatus has been built.
Nagel's depiction of the philosophically committed materialist-scientist sticking to his beliefs in the face of the evidence before us -- the primary evidence being "us" -- reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy or whoever it is pulls back the curtain on the Wizard. All huff and bluff!
His explanation for this? A "cosmic authority problem".
“The priority given to evolutionary naturalism in the face of its implausible conclusions,” he writes, “is due, I think, to the secular consensus that this is the only form of external understanding of ourselves that provides an alternative to theism.”....
He calls this intellectual tic “fear of religion.” ....
“I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear,” he wrote not long ago in an essay called “Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion.” “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”
Nagel believes this “cosmic authority problem” is widely shared among intellectuals, and I believe him. It accounts for the stubbornness with which they cling to materialism—and for the hostility that greets an intellectual who starts to wander off from the herd. Materialism must be true because it “liberates us from religion.”
The article even references my favorite philosophers, Ed Feser and Alvin Plantinga.
The question atheists must ask about Thomas Nagel, who has wandered so far from the materialistic fold, is this: Can Thomas Nagel be saved?
And that's the way the Ball bounces.