Meetup type: Book discussion (attendees are encouraged to read all or at least some parts of the book before the meetup)
This book by Thomas Nagel is only a few months old, but has generated it's fair share of commentary, argument, and questions. The general idea is that the author, a philosopher of mind within the analytic school, contends that it is extremely unlikely that purely materialistic Darwinian evolution, as presently understood and studied, can exclusively be the mechanism responsible for the natural world and it's species, including us.
Nagel has a lot of street cred both in recent academia because of his research and writings on consciousness, and also his stance as an avowed atheist. This is basically what is interesting about his book, in fact: that such a well-regarded figure is trying to make a sharp delineation between materialism and atheism. And if you read a few of the criticisms included below carefully, you will notice that it is just upon this sticking point that people are saying 'huh?'. The overwhelming portion of atheists I've ever encountered, doubly so if they are ardent or vocal, see materialism and atheism as strongly implying one another, and almost equivalent. I personally consider it extremely necessary in our present culture, intellectually, to logically assess these two -isms independently, without pre-conceived frames of connection.
The book is also worthwhile if just taken from the point of view of it's discussion of evolutionary theory, and it's explanatory value and legitimacy.
My aim is to remain out of the actual discussion and debating, providing a moderator's role. I will likely however come with 3 or 4 questions to put forward, in order to give some structure to the discussion. (discussion needn't be limited to these)
Here's Nagel's book followed by some supplementary materials:
-- inflential early paper of Nagel's
Meetup charge: free, but attendees should order something for themselves from the restaurant. You can order from the self-service in the upstairs when you arrive or during our meetup.
Group's policy on RSVPs: Every member is expected to respect their RSVP for each event and keep it up to date. Two instances of non-respect of the RSVP will lead to the member being removed from the group.