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Some time ago I finished reading "Mind and Cosmos" by Thomas Nagel, philosopher at New York University.  I am not going to do a series on the book.  If you would like to check out a series on the book far superior to anything I could do (and from a much more scholastic perspective than our blog) check out Edward Feser's series here.

Thomas Nagel is one of the more influential philosophers right now. And though he is a committed atheist, he doesn't do a very good job of towing the line when it comes to secular orthodoxy that holds so much sway in universities today.

At any rate, I came across some vexing quotes I thought worth sharing.  Here is one that very much goes against the grain of scientific orthodoxy.
As I have said, doubts about the reductionist account of life go against the dominant scientific consensus, but that consensus faces problems of probability that I believe are not taken seriously enough, both with respect to the evolution of life forms through accidental mutation and natural selection and with respect to the formation from dead matter of physical systems capable of such evolution.  The more we learn about the intricacy of the genetic code and its control of the chemical processes of life, the harder those problems seem.[1]
Nagel certainly isn't the first to voice these ideas, but he is unique in that while serious Christian thinkers have voiced similar ideas, he is one of very few atheists who is willing to do so. One thing you shouldn't do, though, while reading quotes of his like this is to think that he is edging towards some sort of deism of theism. Rather, he merely suggests that the materialist reductionist oligarchy today is off-base. His contention is that non-material things also exist, and that there is some non-material explanation at the root of many of our vexing questions. He sketches some ideas in the book, but you'll have to read it to learn more. Another quote:
If we continue to assume that we are parts of the physical world and that the evolutionary process that brought us into existence is part of its history, then something must be added to the physical conception of the natural order that allows us to explain how it can give rise to organisms that are more than physical.  The resources of physical science are not adequate for this purpose, because those resources were developed to account for data of a completely different kind.[2]
He really drives the point home here:
The existence of consciousness is both one of the most familiar and one of the most astounding things about the world.  No conception of the natural order that does not reveal it as something to be expected can aspire even to the outline of completeness.  And if physical science, whatever it may have to say about the origin of life, leaves us necessarily in the dark about consciousness, that shows that it cannot provide the basic form of intelligibility for this world.  There must be a very different way in which things as they are make sense, and that includes the way the physical world is, since the problem cannot be quarantined in the mind.[3]
In noting the difference between basic "animal" consciousness and reason, he states:
Reason can take us beyond the appearances because it has completely general validity, rather than merely local utility.  If we have it, we recognize that it can be neither confirmed nor undermined by a theory of its evolutionary origins, nor by any other external view of itself.  We cannot distance ourselves from it.  That was Descartes' insight.[4]
And finally, in criticizing the Anthropic Principle as an explanation for our existence, Nagel makes this beautiful remark.  I actually laughed out loud when I read it.
If I ask for an explanation of the fact that the air pressure in the transcontinental jet is close to that at sea level, it is no answer to point out that if it weren't, I'd be dead.[5]

1.  Nagel, Mind and Cosmos, p. 9
2.  Ibid., p. 46
3.  Ibid., p. 53
4.  Ibid., p. 82
5.  Ibid., p. 95
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