25 January 2014

More Thomas Nagel. . .

So Nagel says of a predisposition of the cosmos to the existence of life, consciousness and value (let's say harm/benefit to such beings):

«In the present intellectual climate such a possibility is unlikely to be taken seriously, but . . . no viable account, even a purely speculative one, seems to be available of how a system as staggeringly functionally complex and information-rich as a self-reproducing cell, controlled by DNA, RNA or some predecessor, could have arisen by chemical evolution alone from a dead environment. Recognition of the problem is not limited to defenders of "intelligent design." Although scientists continue to seek a purely chemical explanation for the origin of life, there are also card-carrying scientific naturalists like Francis Crick who say it is almost a miracle. Crick is led by his reflection on the probabilities to the hypothesis of "directed panspermia"-- that Earth was seeded with unicellular life sent from an advanced civilization elsewhere in our galaxy where life had evolved earlier. This depends on the supposition that there were other planets or other stars whose physical environment made the accidental formation of life less unlikely. But Crick acknowledges that there is no basis for confidence about any of these likelihoods. 

​   Some form of teleology. . . would be an alternative to a miracle -- either in the sense of a wildly improbable fluke or in the sense of a divine intervention in the natural order. The tendency for life to form may be a basic feature of the natural order, not explained by the nonteleological laws of physics and chemistry. »

​ He might as well have mentioned Jacques Monod in place of Francis Crick. Anyway, as a dyed in the wool secular humanist/Buddhist, I nonetheless find these ideas strangely compelling. ​

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