"The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States. Tocqueville (Democracy in America.)
Let's stipulate that the readers of the NYRB and the public image of philosophy are not well served by demolition jobs masquerading as reviews. Let's also stipulate that Thomas Nagel is one of the most important and interesting philosophers of the last four decades so it is no surprise that NYRB turns to him. Now, Mohan has already called attention to the silly claims about the relationship between the so-called "Hard Problem of Consciousness" and evolution. Even so, what the hell is going on in Nagel's review of Plantinga? Even if we leave aside the remarkably uncritical attitude toward Plantinga, take the first sentence: "The gulf in outlook between atheists and adherents of the monotheistic religions is profound." In what world is Nagel living? You don't need to agree with Nietzsche (who saw the ascetic ideal operating both in faith in God and faith in science) to see that modern, educated North American atheists and Christians are fare more alike in the practical and theoretical things they take for granted than, say, the Babylonian high-priest who believed in omens.
Okay, it's not worth our time to go through each and every sentence of this tactical review; the principle that seems to inform it is, the enemy (the Fideistic Theist) of my enemy (the Scientific Materialist) is apparently one's philosophical friend.