Skip to comments.Weighing the Evidence: An Atheist Abandons Atheism
Posted on 01/10/2005 2:47:28 PM PST by Mr. Silverback
Antony Flew, the 81-year-old British philosophy professor who taught at Oxford and other leading universities, became an atheist at age 15. Throughout his long career he arguedincluding in debates with an atheist-turned-Christian named C. S. Lewisthat there was a presumption of atheism, that is, the existence of a creator could not be proved.
But hes now been forced to face the evidence. It comes from the Intelligent Design movement, led by Dr. Phillip Johnson and particularly the work of Michael Behe, the Lehigh biochemist who has proven the irreducible complexity of the human cell structure. Though eighty-one years old, Flew has not let his thinking fossilize, but has faithfully followed his own dictum to go where the evidence leads.
Christian philosophy professor Gary Habermas of Liberty University conducted an interview with Flew that will be published in the winter issue of Philosophia Christi, the journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and Biola University. Flew told Habermas that a pivotal point in his thinking was when he realized two major flaws in the various theories of how nature might have created itself. First, he recognized that evolutionary theory has no reasonable explanation for the first emergence of living from non-living matterthat is, the origin of life. Second, even if a living cell or primitive animal had somehow assembled itself from non-living chemicals, he reasoned it would have no ability to reproduce.
Flew told Habermas, This is the creature, the evolution of which a truly comprehensive theory of evolution must give some account. Darwin himself was well aware that he had not produced such an account. It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.
Flew has, thus, become a Deistthat is, he acknowledges God as creator but not as a personal deity. In his opinion, There is no room either for any supernatural revelation of that God or any transactions between that God and individual human beings. In fact, he told a group last May that he considers both the Christian God and the Islamic God to be omnipotent Oriental despotscosmic Saddam Husseins.
But a crack is beginning to develop in his opinion that God hasnt spoken through Scripture. When he reads the first chapter of Genesis, Flew says hes impressed that a book written thousands of years ago harmonizes with twenty-first-century science. That this biblical account might be scientifically accurate, says Flew, raises the possibility that it is revelation. A book containing factual statements that no human knew about at the time of writing seems to argue that the authors must have had coaching from the Creator.
The evidence is there for all who will look, as his one-time adversary C. S. Lewis discovered, and as more and more thinking intellectuals are discovering today. So it is that Antony Flew, perhaps the most famous philosopher of atheism, is just a step or two away from the kingdom.
And another potential thousand plus post thread exits the womb...
I like the mention of C. S. Lewis at the end. He is my favorite author.
It is also nice that he brings up one of my favorite points. To wit, that a book written thousands of years ago and has quite a bit to say about creation, still cannot be refuted by modern science. Oh, peoples interpretations of it can be, but it cannot. Kind of like it's prophesies...
BreakPoint/Chuck Colson Ping!
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Someone needs to tell this 81 year professor from Oxford University that the Theory of Evolution does not speak to the issue of origins, therefore it must not, and cannot, be held accountable in this regard.
Well, as ones life becomes more and more mortal, one usually finds themself spending more mental energy on the subject.
>>Theory of Evolution does not speak to the issue of origins, therefore it must not, and cannot, be held accountable in this regard.<<
Heh, heh. WHICH theory of evolution?
I don't believe in atheists...I can prove their nonexistance.
AT 81, he may not have much time left to make up his mind whether he should follow up on his realization of a deity.
C. S. Lewis used to be an atheist. He finally concluded, and documents his reasons, that it is the most logically unsupportable position to the point that he did not believe there was really any such thing as an atheist, no matter how much someone would claim to be one.
My assertion is based on Lewis's writing....:-)
I tend to believe that if the only thing that is keepine a person from accepting Christ is their intellect, then they are, in fact, probably destined to become a Christian.
I actually suspected, but was not sure. ;^>
Amazing how some atheists come around the closer they get to meeting their Creator...
Perhaps he's hedging his bets?
Induldge me ping :D
Interesting article....looks like intelligent design is gaining some traction.
And that is the key phrase. The brain-dead ones still cling to a theory only a real idiotic or and religious fanatic could believe in.
Wow. What a succinct way to put it. I've had raging arguments with atheists on FR on the impossibility of atheism.
You summed it up in a single sentence.
Generally, I get riled and ask them to lay out their proof for me so that I can have my Sunday's back.
I never get a response, but my approach isn't half as elegant as your summation.
"Someone needs to tell this 81 year professor from Oxford University that the Theory of Evolution does not speak to the issue of origins, therefore it must not, and cannot, be held accountable in this regard."
He quite logically, as many of us have, realized that when macro evolution is presented as a totally naturalistic mechanism (requiring no God) to account for the total diversity of life we observe in the present and in the fossil record, then a naturalistic origens of life is also implied. If there is no creator/designer, then life had to evolve/form from non-life.
Click the link below for the actual Habermas interview (also downloadable as .pdf):
For anyone who thinks Flew's move to being a theist is underreported...
I suspect it may not be due to atheistic/materialist bent of most journalists...
it's because of what Flew has to say about Islam, The World Council of Churches,
and communism (see pp 12, 14-16 of the .pdf file).
That, plus Flew's appraisal of St. Paul having a "first-class philosophical mind"
and Christ as a very appealing personage is sufficient for most journalists/editors
to ignore this story!!!
Thanks, and AMEN!
Bears repeating ...........
Catholic Ping - please freepmail me if you want on/off this list
I would rather be a trash collector in Heaven, than on the Board of Directors in Hell. Jus' my opinion.
That's a great way of looking at it. I'll remember that one.
Like the death of Mark Twain, the stories about how Evolution is being reject by scientists have been greatly exagerated.
There and I thought they were ignoring it just because no one knew who the old geezer was.
How it is that a professor at grand old age is so resistant to the wonderful freedom of humility...well, God and Jesus can deal with that.
At 81, he's reached an age at which sexual license probably does not seem so all-important. I've come to think that's about 95% of the motivation behind the modernist revolt against religion, of which atheism is but one strand. The high theorizing is rooted mainly in the desire to reject any authority outside oneself, and this in turn is motivated very largely by the desire to misbehave sexually.
Interesting article....looks like intelligent design is gaining some traction.
You mean reestablishing?
"Although a great many people on FR seem to believe that God doesn't have the power to have created evolution."
"created evolution"? Is that not a bit of an oxymoron?
You are saying exactly what I have always suspected.
Why? It actually seems more elegant and God is nothing if not elegant.
Why is creative evolution any different than setting a toy boat free in a stream?
Flew believes there is nothing after death which makes his statements even more meaningful.
To Flew there is no eternal spiritual benefit for his belief change. He was just being intellectually honest
And that's the problem. God is NOT irrelevant. Make up a fable of how a log cabin could come into existence without intelligent design. Such a tale would make the builder of the cabin "irrelevant". Unfortunately, since the builder is quite irrelevant, it makes the theory ignoring him irrelevant. Such is the fate of the theory of evolution. IT is irrelevant, not God.
a great many people on FR seem to believe that God doesn't have the power to have created evolution
On the contrary, we believe that God has the power to do as He pleases, including creating the entire universe in 7 days if that's the way it happened. It is the evolutionists who seek to rob God of power, believing that God doesn't have the power to have created the universe without evolution.
They apparently think God put all that evidence out there just to fool us
LOL. Uhm, no. We think God left plenty of evidence, and the evidence points to divine creation, NOT to a chance occurrence wherein He is "irrelevant" as you admit. As these intelluctuals like C.S. Lewis and his recently converted debate partner are concluding, based upon the evidence it is MORE logical to presume intelligent design than to presume evolution. If you want to take a huge leap of "faith" and believe in an evolutionary world in which God is "irrelevant" that is your choice; however, the odds are simply not in your favor.
Like the death of Mark Twain, the stories about how Evolution is being rejected by scientists have been greatly exagerated.
You mean Mark Twain is still alive!? ;-)
One of the concepts in evolution is the random mutation of genes. Did not God create "randomness" in the first place?
I'm just amazed to think that there are people who think that God could not have been smart enough to set up the system of evolution in the first place. They apparently think that God could snap his fingers, and there was a new creature. But they don't think God could have created a life system that would modify itself over time. Creationism is such a simplistic view of God.
I prefer to think that God created gravity, and that's what made the lake flat.
Same with evolution.
Atheism is a religion too. To say you know there is no God is logically the same as saying you know there is.
If your God is logical
-- reason is your religion.
To say then you know God, is not reasonable.
"Why is creative evolution any different than setting a toy boat free in a stream?"
I don't particularily want to debate with a "theistic" evolutionist. I will just say that the God I worship is a "hands on" God. He doesn't just turn things loose like a toy boat in a stream. That view is not just confined to origin of species. It is also my view of all occurences in the world - past, present, and future.
"They apparently think that God could snap his fingers, and there was a new creature. But they don't think God could have created a life system that would modify itself over time. Creationism is such a simplistic view of God."
That is just a rationalization on your part. You are trying justify your own lack of faith in the reliability of scripture. What you call "simplistic" is what I call the simple faith of a child that Christ Jesus said was necessary.
I don't want to argue either (except respectfully).
However, God will not reduce Himself to that which you worship...He Is Infinite...and He can do whatever He wants...and it is surely infinitely greater than our capacity to understand...but is bound only by His Love and Care.
What I am saying is...don't define Him because you are surely reducing Him to your human capacity.
Then you can see that this argument over evolution is really between believers who merely interpret Genesis in different ways. Some recognize that those few hundred words about the creation are just not enough to include something detailed like evolution. The Bible is not a science textbook and church is not a science foundation.
I personally believe that the whole evolution vs. creationism fight is damaging to believers. The damage ends when believers decide that they will not contest science.
God still did it. That's the only point that matters.