Review of Nagel in the Journal of Psychology & Theology

Apologetics, Psychology, Theology

The Journal of Psychology & Theology was gracious enough to publish my review of Thomas Nagel’s recent work Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.

Read my review here.

Also, if you’re trying to budget your time, James Anderson‘s recent review of the same book on Ref 21 is a much more worthwhile read than mine (follow him on twitter, too). Seriously, Anderson slices and dices like no one else can. I just summarize and make generic comments.

Anderson also puts all of the back-and-forth between Nagel and Plantinga about the book in one place here.

Anderson on Intelligence and Religious Belief


James Anderson, responding to recent studies that attempt to prove a correlation between religious beliefs and low IQs, lists five reasons why the relationship between intelligence and religious belief doesn’t determine whether a person (or a belief) is right or wrong:

  1. If intelligence were generally correlated with having true beliefs, we would expect there to be wide agreement among the beliefs of intelligent people. We find wide disagreement over major disputed issues among those with high IQs.
  2. The more intelligent a person is, the greater his capacity to rationalize . . . [A] person’s intelligence can work just as effectively against the pursuit of truth, especially if that truth is an unwelcome truth.
  3. On a related point, it’s not uncommon for very smart people to hold and defend very bizarre and counterintuitive ideas, and to act in quite foolish ways.
  4. High intelligence can easily become an occasion for pride, arrogance, and an attitude of self-reliance. But Christianity regards such attitudes as vices, in conflict with devotion to God and love for one’s neighbor (see, e.g., Prov. 3:5-7Matt. 5:5Rom. 12:16Phil. 2:31 Pet. 5:5). So the Christian faith and its accompanying ethic can be a stumbling block to those who have high IQs.
  5. Whether a person’s belief in God is rational bears no direct relation to how intelligent that person is. The rationality of such beliefs isn’t indexed to the intelligence of the person who holds those beliefs. It’s basically a matter of whether that person is “of sound mind.”

Anderson concludes: “In sum, one of the great virtues of Christianity is that it especially welcomes those who are looked down on by the world’s intelligentsia. So it’s no surprise, and no discredit, that the more simple-minded are well represented within its ranks.”

I highly recommend reading the whole post. It is encouraging and biblical – a true example of practical apologetics for the church. (Also, follow Anderson on twitter).