An Author Attracts Unlikely Allies

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'He is questioning a certain kind of orthodoxy, and they are responding in the way the orthodox respond.' Mr. Nagel's depiction of a universe 'gradually waking up' through the emergence of consciousness can sound oddly mystical - the atheist analytic philosopher's version of 'spiritual, not religious.' And even some readers who admire Mr. Nagel's philosophical boldness see a very fuzzy line between his natural teleology and the creator God of theists like the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga (who reviewed Mr. Nagel's book favorably in The New Republic, throwing more red meat to his detractors). In his conclusion Mr. Nagel declares that the present 'right-thinking consensus' on evolution 'will come to seem laughable in a generation or two.' But few of his colleagues seem to see much sign that a radical paradigm shift is imminent, let alone necessary.

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