The central argument of Mind and Cosmos: Why the Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Surely False by Thomas Nagel seems to be as follows.
- There are three possible and mutually exclusive explanations for the world and its contents: materialistic naturalism, theism, or teleological naturalism.
- The correct explanation of the world and its contents is not materialistic naturalism.
- The correct explanation of the world and its contents is not theism.
- Therefore, the correct explanation is teleological naturalism.
The correct explanation of the world and its contents is not materialistic naturalism. Nagel makes some preliminary remarks regarding his skepticism about the ability of materialistic naturalism (henceforth MN) to explain the origin of life. He also thinks that MN has a further problem in explaining the DNA code and the complex forms of life we see in the estimated life span of the earth via random genetic mutation. He sees these as independent empirical reasons which buttress his philosophical arguments against MN as a satisfactory explanation of the cosmos. He notes his gratitude toward the intelligent design community in pointing out their critiques of MN, although he emphatically declines to endorse their conclusion that theism (henceforth T) is, given the failure of MN, the correct worldview.
Eventually the attempt to understand oneself in evolutionary, naturalistic terms must bottom out in something that is grasped as valid in itself—something without which evolutionary understanding would not be possible….It is not enough to be able to think that *if* there are logical truths, natural selection might very well have given me the capacity to recognize them. That cannot be my ground for trusting my reason, because even that thought implicitly relies on reason in a prior way. (p. 59, Kindle edition)
Philosophy has to proceed comparatively. The best we can do is to develop the rival alternative conceptions in each important domain as fully and carefully as possible, depending on our antecedent sympathies, and see how they measure up. (p. 108, Kindle edition)
The theist might also pray that Nagel comes to see that his assumptions are indeed ungrounded, and acknowledge He who is.
Apologetics 315 Book Reviewer Latter Day Inkling is a U.S.-based research psychologist for the military. He is especially interested in epistemology and natural theology.