Monday, June 30, 2014

Truth Costs

Thomas Nagel, professor of philosophy at New York University, one of America’s leading institutions, candidly wrote, "I want atheism to be true. And I’m made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t that I don’t believe in God and naturally hope that I’m right in my beliefs, 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."1
Aldous Huxley is even more candid in exposing that his personal biases - even more than the evidence - influenced his rejection of God. In Ends and Means, he writes, "I wanted to believe the Darwinian idea. I chose to believe it not because I think there was enormous evidence for it, nor because I believed it had the full authority to give interpretation to my origins, but I chose to believe it because it delivered me from trying to find meaning and freed me to my own erotic passions."2

Huxley, an intelligent and erudite thinker, did not embrace evolution because of the evidence.  Nor did he reject God for the lack of it.  Rather, he wanted to rid himself of the burden of trying to find meaning. He wanted no sexual restrictions.  In other words, he did not want to pay the cost associated with belief in God. For Huxley, disbelief was not a matter of the mind, but a matter of the heart and will.
~Abdu Murray, What Truth Costs

Nagel and Huxley, how much like these two are we in our leanings?  Do we choose our worldview and personal convictions from knowledge or from preference?  Or from fear of the implications?  Troublesome questions on every side of the issue.

“Until the heart is open, the ears remain closed.”

Thomas Nagel, The Last Word (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 130, emphasis added. Interestingly, Nagel has recently released a book in which he concedes to some degree the credibility of the evidence for a non-material cause of the universe. See Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means (London: Chatt & Windus, 1946), 310.