Nagels Argument About The Deprivation Of Life Philosophy Essay

Explain Nagel’s argument of the deprivation of life in relation to the value of d

Since the earliest period of man, humans have attempted to interpret the mysteries of the universe. They have also tried to provide an acceptable explanation for their state of being in it. Through this trip of self-understanding, many points of view on human existence have developed and united into a complicated, theoretical expression, called religion. On the other hand, as the human race has expanded and developed itself, many thoughts articulated by religion seem invalid. Progress in science has come up with a new type of human idea that has moved the support structures of religious doctrine. Our scientifically connected understanding of the universe has revealed an overload of answers to very old questions, which are exactly opposite to the explanations proposed by religion. As solid scientific evidence has emerged which is opposed to the dominant religious view, open-minded followers have changed their beliefs as needed, but many literal interpreters resist considering scientific proof. This is the foundation of the uncertainty between religion and science. Many philosophers and theologians have offered their views regarding the continuing battle between religion and science. My main intention of writing this paper is to consider if there is enough scientific proof to get rid of religion all together, and to answer how religion could possibly justify science.

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Conflict resolution between religion and science is not possible, since the assertions made by religion and the proof provided by science is exceptionally different. The forward movement of science has forced many theologians to expose traditional religious beliefs in order to ease scientific proof. This confirms that scientific statements of the universe are more valid than the fundamental explanations made available by religion. An excellent example of this is displayed in the highly debated question of our planet’s age. In accordance with religious theology, the Earth is less than ten thousand years old. Despite this, there is an intense amount of scientific evidence that reveals the Earth to be billions of years old. Religious philosophers have responded to this proof by asserting that the processes used to discover the Earth’s age are unreliable. They reason that radioactive dating; a highly approved systematic way of deciding the age of rocks, is mistaken since there isn’t any particular rock sample which the method can be checked to. However, this argument is not well developed, because the only check needed to discover the age of a particular rock is the measure of its decay rate. This can be discovered in the laboratory of a restricted experiment. Because of the proof supplied by scientific research, many religious philosophers have been compelled to compromise their views, and have tried to combine scientific evidence with biblical history Earth’s age. Theologians argue that the words of the bible are written metaphorically, and could be understood in a way that merges the biblical history of the Earth’s age with scientific truth. In reference to Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, our planet was formed in six days: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day”(Genesis 1:31). Theologians assert that other passages in the book of Genesis could also be understood to metaphorically mean what a day is to God could be up to millions of years for humanity. They assert that the Earth could have been brought into existence over a much lengthier duration than six days, and can therefore be as old as science determines it to be. This appears to be a weak argument in support of Earth’s biblical age. By doubting the cogency of the Bible as literal text, it introduces the potential of Christianity being wrong. When religious philosophers consider scientific evidence and attempt to balance it with the bible, the truth of the whole religion has been questioned. This puts any biblically based argument on trembling ground. Another dilemma sought to be solved by both science and religion, is the determination of human origin.

Science has supplied many explanations regarding the origin of humans, which oppose the traditional thought of creation. The most widely familiar of those interpretive explanations is biological evolution. Biological evolution embraces the changes to a specific species over thousands of generations as it produces variations of descendants, more of which are usually better adapted to survive in their environment than the previous generation. Proof for biological evolution can be viewed in the diversity of the life that encompasses us. It is approximately calculated that out of the potential two million species on Earth, all have alike defining features. Every organism on Earth is made up of basic functional and structural units called cells. This fact alone is proof that all species on Earth have a mutual lineage. In addition, the history of life recorded by fossils shows driving evidence of evolution. The fossil history displays that the first complex life, jellyfish and worms, were born on Earth about 680 million years ago. As the fossil record is further examined, it can be displayed that these life forms transformed into more complex life forms, and those life forms into even more complex ones, etc. Since evolution can be unquestionably seen in fossil records, it is likely that evolution is responsible for the human species formation. Despite the overpowering proof towards evolution, theologians still fight for the idea of creationism.

Creationism explains that God developed the Earth and all of the living things on it. Creationism also states that the Book of Genesis provides a factual history of existence. There are various schools of thought regarding creationism. Biblical creationists think that the scientific statements of the creation of the universe oppose the words of the Bible. Despite this, scientific creationism explains that scientific statements of the beginning of the universe do not inevitably deny the words of the Bible. Creation science combines religion with science, and makes use of scientific knowledge as a resource in an argument. An excellent example of this can be interpreted in the Genesis’ explanation of the beginning of time. According to the book of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3). Creation science assumes that this can be a biblical statement leaning in the direction of the Big Bang Theory. The Big Bang Theory states that the universe came to being as the consequence of an explosion roughly 15 to 20 billion years ago. Shortly after the “big bang”, the universe was composed mostly of powerful radiation, which gave shape to an inflated ball of fire. After an unspecified time, some of the energy from the ball of fire was transformed into matter, mostly hydrogen. From that enormous ball of fire, particles of light rose for the first time. Creation science argues that the Big Bang Theory has dramatic similarity to the Genesis account. I think that this point of view does not hold true, because the words of the Bible are being taken as pure metaphor. The words of Genesis are being extended to fit into the scientific model of the initiation of time. Receiving scientific knowledge and using the Bible to explain it sabotages the validity of the entire religion. Creation science has also attempted to supply a Biblical history for the Earth’s Geology. It reasons that the Earth’s Geology is a consequence of the world-wide flood, as represented by the book of Genesis. This claim simply does not hold up as empirical science. William Overton, in his take of the case McLean vs. Arkansas Board of Education, “any kind of Genesis Flood depends upon supernatural intervention. A world-wide flood as an explanation of the world’s Geology is not the product of natural law, nor can its occurrence be explained by natural law.” Other evidence of the deficiency of creation science can be seen in its assertions that the likelihood of a combination of chemicals resulting in life from nothingness is unlikely. Creation science states life is the consequence of a creator. According to Overton, “While the statistical figures may be impressive evidence against the theory of chance chemical combinations as an explanation of origins, it requires a leap of faith to interpret those figures so as to support a complex doctrine which includes a sudden creation from nothing, a world-wide flood, separate ancestry of man and apes, and a young earth.” Even though creation science does a great job of expanding the Bible’s text so that it could keep up with the rapid discoveries of science, I find it difficult to accept creationism. The overpowering amount of proof defending evolution makes it a more valid explanation for the beginning of species.

An additional issue between religion and science is the existence of God. The disciple of physics reports the universe in proportionally simple concepts. Even though the clarification of the mechanical system of the universe, as provided by physics, may not seem to be simple, as we learn more from physics, the infinite structure of the universe does start to look less and less complicated. However, theologians contend that an infinitely complex God is required in the interpretation of the simply structured universe. Descartes claims that God is a very complicated being, having the qualities of both omnipotence (unlimited power) and omniscience (infinite knowledge). The theologian position replaces the question of how our simple universe got here, with the harder question of how God got here. Ockham Razor’s principle states that less complicated interpretations will more likely be accurate than complicated explanations. This scientific principle takes God out of the picture. According to Albert Einstein, “the more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature.” Basically, the more someone knows about the function of the universe, the more he/she becomes aware of nature’s simplicity, and then he/she becomes less likely to believe in God. This is the why roughly ninety percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences are atheists. However, theologians claim that the being of God can be revealed through scientific fact. In his book, Natural Theology, Reverend Paley states that, “an artifact exhibiting a complexity of parts that collaborate to create a purposeful function requires a designer.” Paley states that if we see proof for a similar plan in the initiation of nature, then the object also needs a cosmic designer, or God. I find this view difficult to accept. Everything in nature can be viewed or measured. However, God is not perceivable, and to believe in God is an act of faith. Theologians also point out that some features of nature are also not visible, such as magnetic and gravitational fields. On the other hand, there is no direct similarity which can be correlated between the invisibility of those natural phenomenons and the invisibility of God. This is because those features of nature can actually be measured. However, God’s existence simply cannot be shown to exist through empirical proof.

If scientific proof exists and truly overthrows the doctrine teachings of the Bible, then why do humans accept religion? It is mostly because Religion gives humans an awareness of security, an awareness of purpose, and brings people from all over the world together. Possibly the most significant features of any well-grounded religion are its belief in a leader and a set of moral doctrine teachings that specify how people should act towards others. Religion is one of the ways generations are enabled to easily pass down their morals and values to the future generations. Some may argue that Religion is also a way to control the masses. Even though scientific arguments question the teachings of religion, it will forever stay as an established organization in our society.

Work Cited

Dalrymple, Brent G. “Geologic Time: Age of the Earth.” USGS Publications Warehouse. 9 July 2007. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. .

Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. .

Lancaster, Guy. “McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education – Encyclopedia of Arkansas.” The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. 15 Oct. 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. .

Nolan, Lawrence. “Descartes’ Ontological Argument (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 18 June 2001. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. .

Russo, Gene. “Balancing Belief and Bioscience, Commentary, Religion, NIH, Prospects, Naturejobs.” Nature Publishing Group : Science Journals, Jobs, and Information. 29 July 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. .

Waggoner, Ben M. “William Paley.” Berkeley University of California. 21 Aug. 1996. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. .


eath. Explain Nagel’s position on whether death should be regarded as positive or negative. Do you think Nagel provides good arguments for his view? If so, defend Nagel against possible objections. Otherwise, criticize his argument by providing sound objections to his view.

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What is death? Death is the cessation of the connection between the body and the mind. Death occurs not only when the heart stops beating but also when the subtle consciousness leaves the body to go to the next life. Some people may believe that death is bad because it’s a deprivation of life and others may believe that death is good because it rids us from life. In my response I will be exploring Thomas Nagel’s point of view of death and will be giving my own arguments in response to his article “Death”. Thomas Nagel’s Death depicts the nature of death itself by formulating and exploring 2 distinct hypothesis or positions. The first position is that death deprives us from all the goods in life which would make death somewhat evil. The second position he explores shows that death is merely the cessation of all awareness and existence.

In the first position, Nagel discusses that life may not be the accumulation of good or bad experiences i.e. life has a value greater than that measured by the existence of the organic body. Life is inherently valuable, but not primarily based on mere existence. To make his point more convincing, Nagel uses the example of surviving in a comma and missing out on life. In a coma situation, death would actually be good because there are no further life experiences gained and death would just be a way to relax. Moreover, “like most goods”, good in life can be increased over time and life would become more valuable. Nagel’s second position is that death is simply a state of non-existence and is not evil. My disagreement to this position holds three counterarguments. First, death’s evil is not quantitative, and so does not increase as one is dead, as good does during life. Moreover, a temporary absence of awareness in life (such as a comma) would be a great loss by itself. There is no point in life if one is not going to be aware of it. Finally, we do not generally bemoan the period of time before we were born as being a misfortune, as we do the period after we cease living. Holding this belief would be a contradiction, and would not make logical sense. Life is good because we have the awareness to experience everything it has to offer. Death is only bad because it deprives us of what life has to offer, not because the actual state is bad for us.

Additionally, Nagel effectively observes that we must examine the circumstances surrounding a death, and the relevant history of the specific person who dies. This is important if we take into consideration the state of the person at the moment of death. Nagel gives an example, of a very intelligent man who had an injury that caused him to “regress to the mental capacity of an infant”. Even though the man may never be aware of his condition, it is a terrible misfortune to his family and friends. This situation is unfortunate because he was deprived of all the things he could have accomplished had he not ended up in the situation he was in. However, the man can be happy in his state, but I agree that what happened to this man is somewhat of a tragedy because of the loss of his life as an intelligent man. “Death is bad because it robs you of what could have been” (Shtayyeh, 2011)

Three problems arise in Nagel’s discussion. The first is “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”. People who think in this way would say that it is not harmful for a person to be mocked behind his/her back as long as he/she doesn’t know about it i.e. not experiencing evil is not bad. Neither I nor Nagel agree with this view. We consider ourselves to have been injured when someone acts against our wishes or interests, even when we are not aware of his/her actions. The second problem deals with whether death is harmful or not. As Nagel strongly stresses, harm can be done to or experienced by a person before death and because there is nothing after death no harm is done, so when is death itself experienced as a harm? The third problem deals with prenatal existence and nonexistence. Nagel objects and asks how can the period of non-existence after our death be bad, if the period before our birth is not bad? I object to this claim because not being born is not the same as dying. Dying deprives us from the experiences we should have gained had we not died, whereas not being born means there’s nothing you missed out on in life because you weren’t supposed to have a life in the first place!

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In my opinion, the argument that Nagel makes that death is bad is rendered specifically strong by his willingness to address opposing views from the beginning of the argument, and thus carefully and successfully establish the boundaries of his argument. For example, Nagel decides to leave aside the complex debate over whether we are “immortal” in some fashion – and define death as being the absence of any “conscious survival” (Nagel). Similarly, he is equally careful to restrict the valuation of life to one’s subjectivity instead of viewing it in an objective sense. This removes complications that may come from an “objective” viewing of the valuation of life from the perspective of others (Nagel). Having thus carefully framed the boundaries of his argument, Nagel presents his key contention with regard to the “asymmetry” in our understanding of the significance of death versus life.” The weakness of Nagel’s Argument is concealed in his refusal to consider and discuss the sole possibility of continuation of Life after Death at least in some form, Short-sightedness of such approach is obvious as anyone capable of mere Observation of our World would notice that Majority of the World Leaders are Creatures of Senior Age which means they (or most of them) will die soon.. They (or their Predecessors) would have destroyed this world long ago should they not known for sure that there is Next Life and Responsibility for what was done in this World and Life.


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