Thomas Nagel is one of the premier philosophers living today. This is one reason why his recent criticisms of Darwinism have caused such a stir. In his latest book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly Wrong, Nagel argues that materialism is incapable of explaining the phenomena of human consciousness. One thing that makes Nagel’s criticisms especially noteworthy is that he is a militant atheist. But he is an honest atheist. In an earlier work, The Last Word, in a chapter entitled “Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion,” Nagel makes a candid admission:
“I am talking about something much deeper—namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: 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.”–The Last Word, 130-31.
Nagel explains that at the root of his (and other atheists’) visceral revulsion to theism is what he calls “the cosmic authority problem”—the rejection of any accountability to God. He continues, “Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning, and design as fundamental features of the world.” Because many materialists recognize that acknowledging the evidence that points to purpose and design is tantamount to admitting to the reasonableness of theism, they would rather welcome what Nagel calls “Darwinist imperialism.”
Nagel’s candor is refreshing. One rarely reads a statement as blunt and honest as “I don’t want there to be a God.” He is admitting that his opinion is not neutral (an admission with which the Apostle Paul would heartily agree–see Romans 1). However, we don’t have a vote in the matter. God is, whether we believe in Him or not. He is the necessary Being, the One Who cannot not be. I find myself praying for this candid atheist.
This post can also be found at www.theologyforthechurch.com