Wednesday, August 22, 2012

#17 Dr. Antony Flew

This proof is what I'm going to call a "piggyback proof". I propose that you accept the word of a really smart person who searched for the truth about God for his whole life in a very unusual way.

In 2004 after about 50 years as one of the world's leading and best known atheists, Antony Flew, came to the conclusion that there must be a God.

"After a lifetime of probing philosophical inquiry, this towering and courageous intellect has now concluded the evidence leads conclusively to God" [1]

"Antony Flew has been for most of his life a very well known philosophical champion of atheism." [5]

Other atheists were quick to call him senile and said that he was manipulated in his old age by certain Christians. He denied it and came out with a book called, There Is A God, How The World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind [9]. It tells his story and the arguments that convinced him. (There are videos on YouTube of his appearances if you search under Antony Flew.) [8]

"I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence. I believe that this universe's intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source." [11]

"This is a fascinating and very readible account of how a distinguished philosopher who was a militant atheist for most of his working life came to believe in the intelligent design of the univers..." [2]

"A fascinating record of how one of our most prominent contemporary atheists was led to the conviction that God does exist." [3]

"A stellar philosophical mind ponders the latest scientific results. The conclusion: a God stands behind the rationality of nature." [4]

Flew was not your average atheist. He was considered a brilliant philosopher who at a very young age in 1950 published a paper called Theology and Falsification on atheism that is the most widely reprinted over the last 50 years and has been highly influencial in philosophy around the world.

He was always involved in the highest levels of the academic world, even having a professorship at Oxford. He kept up on the latest philosophical arguments for and against God as well as the latest scientific research into the origins of life and the universe.

One of his greatest virtues was his commitment to academic integrity and dedication to the Socratic Method of following the evidence wherever it might lead.

Ultimately, it was the developments in modern science that convinced him that there must be an intelligent source that designed and created the universe. The Big Bang Theory, namely that the universe had a beginning something like 13 billions years ago, does not allow for enough time in order for the complexity of life that we observe to have developed according to evolution. Also, research discoveries in micro-biology and DNA led him to the same conclusion, namely that there must have been an intelligent cause.

This man was one of the greatest and most respected philosophical minds of the 20th century. He debated far and wide those who believed in a God. For him to finally change his mind after 50 years of debating, believing, and researching is a monumental change, certainly not done lightly or easily.

His change completely negates the idea that only common people who are uneducated and haven't done the research can believe in a God.

Secondly, he must have known the incredible hatred that would be unleashed on him from the atheistic community if he betrayed their beliefs. He responded as ever with kindness and gentleness, which is all too evident in the book he wrote, There Is A God. In it he patiently spells out the philosophical journey he had taken in life and clearly what lead him to change his mind so all the world could know.

"When Antony Flew, in the spirit of free-thinking, followed the evidence where he thought it led, namely, to theism, he was roundly denounced by supposed free-thinkers in the severest of terms. He had, it seemed, committed the unpardonable sin." [6]

"Perhaps what provides the deepest satisfaction in reading this philosophical memoir is the author's transparent integrity, so habitual over a productive lifetime as to be, as Aristotle would have it, second nature. How shrill and self-absorbed are the opposing works of a Dawkins or a Dennett by comparison." [7]

This man understood all the arguments for atheism inside and out. In fact, he created some of those arguments himself. He was the author of 30 books. All his life he wanted to follow the evidence to find the truth and he ended up accepting that there must be a God.

"In fact, my two main antitheological books were both written long before either the development of the big-bang cosmology or the introduction of the fine-tuning argument from physical constants. But since the early 1980's, I had begun to reconsider. I confessed at that point that atheists have to be embarrassed by the contemporary cosmological consensus, for it seemed that the cosmologists were providing a scientific proof of what St. Thomas Aquinas contended could not be proved philosophically; namely, that the universe had a beginning." [10]

In 2007, Flew was interviewed by Benjamin Wiker. He said again that his deism was the result of his "growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe" and "my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source." [12]

You could do all the research yourself and study all the arguments for and against God. Or you could just take a short cut and check out what Antony Flew has to say. I enjoyed reading his book very much although at times the philosophy was over my head. He was clearly a brilliant thinker.

There must be a God.


[1] Francis S. Collins, author of The Language of God

[2] John Hick, professor and Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham

[3] Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University

[4] Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box and The Edge of Evolution

[5] Richard Swinburne, author of The Existence of God

[6] William Lane Craig, Research Professor, Talbot School of Theology

[7] Daniel N. Robinson, Philosophy Department, Oxford University

[8] YouTube video example:

[9] There Is A God, by Antony Flew, 2007, Harper Collins, New York, NY

[10] There Is A God, page 135.

[11] There Is A God, page 88

[12] Dr. Benjamin Wiker: Exclusive Flew Interview, 30 October 2007.

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