A Few Reminders about Evolution from an Atheist
by Robin Schumacher
Although Dr. Thomas Nagel and I don’t see eye to eye on the matter of God’s existence, I appreciate the intellectual honesty that he displays in public. For example, when it comes to why he doesn’t believe in God, Nagel says: “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 that there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”
I appreciate that Dr. Nagel is willing to admit what many atheists aren’t – that there are a priori motivating factors that come into play where a belief system is concerned. Do Christians have such presuppositions (in the opposite direction, of course)? Certainly. But so do unbelievers, and it’s good to see one in that fold admit it.
Nagel has recently stirred up another ruckus with his new book, which carries a very interesting subtitle: Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. In his book, Nagel brings up the issue of presuppositions entering into belief but then goes on to say much more:
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Even though writers like Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer are motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs, the empirical arguments they offer against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry are of great interest in themselves. Another skeptic, David Berlinski, has brought out these problems vividly without reference to the design inference. Even if one is not drawn to the alternative of an explanation by the actions of a designer, the problems that these iconoclasts pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously. They do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met. It is manifestly unfair.
Nagel’s statements and position, I believe, serve as good reminders about how scientists can display very unscientific attitudes toward teachings that go against their worldview, and also that the word ‘evolution’ doesn’t mean everything that some would have you believe it means…
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