For materialists around the world it is almost taken for granted that everything from physics to biology, including the mind, ultimately comes down to four fundamental concepts: matter and energy interacting in an arena of space and time. But there are skeptics who suspect we may be missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.
Since it was published in 2012, “Mind and Cosmos”, by the philosopher Thomas Nagel, is the book that has caused the most consternation. With his taunting subtitle — “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” — Dr. Nagel was rejecting the idea that there was nothing more to the universe than matter and physical forces. He also doubted that the laws of evolution, as currently conceived, could have produced something as remarkable as sentient life. That idea borders on anathema, and the book quickly met with a blistering counterattack. Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychologist, denounced it as “the shoddy reasoning of a once-great thinker”.
What makes “Mind and Cosmos” worth reading is that Dr. Nagel is an atheist, who rejects the creationist idea of an intelligent designer. The answers, he believes, may still be found through science, but only by expanding it further than it may be willing to go.
Science, Dr. Nagel proposes, might require another revolution: showing that mind, along with matter and energy, is “a fundamental principle of nature” — and that we live in a universe primed “to generate beings capable of comprehending it”. Rather than being a blind series of random mutations and adaptations, evolution would have a direction, maybe even a purpose.
“Above all”, he wrote, “I would like to extend the boundaries of what is not regarded as unthinkable, in light of how little we really understand about the world”.
Dr. Nagel is not alone in entertaining such ideas. While rejecting anything mystical, the biologist Stuart Kauffman has suggested that Darwinian theory must somehow be expanded to explain the emergence of complex, intelligent creatures. And David J. Chalmers, a philosopher, has called on scientists to seriously consider “panpsychism” — the idea that some kind of consciousness, however rudimentary, pervades the stuff of the universe. (1)
Harmonia Philosophica said it a long time ago: Consciousness will be the final frontier that will make science turn towards new ways of thinking.
What is immaterial by nature cannot be explained via material models.
Of course atheists will name it anyway they can in order to hide their intellectual defeat. But the point will be the same: God, in one form or another, is here. Among us. Call it “consciousness”, call it “panpsyhism”, call it “weird state of matter”. The result is the same.
We are luminous beings. Bond by the Force… Errr… I meant by the “mind”…