Skip to comments.Why Top Atheist Now Believes in a Creator : An Interview with Antony Flew
Posted on 11/03/2006 1:47:02 PM PST by SirLinksalot
Why Top Atheist Now Believes in a Creator
By Lee Strobel
Some news items are so staggering that they demand personal investigation. That was the case with the stunning announcement in late 2004 that the worlds most famous philosophical atheist, Dr. Antony Flew, had abandoned his skepticism and now believes in a Creator.
Finally, I was able to sit down with the Oxford-educated author of three dozen books including The Presumption of Atheism and Atheistic Humanism and interview him about his new conclusions. The remarkable conversation was captured on video and is now available in free clips at www.LeeStrobel.com. Here are some highlights of my chat with the spry 83-year-old professor.
Flew was warm and friendly during our conversation, offering thoughtful responses to my questions. He seemed comfortable in talking about his new beliefs, yet he was still careful in how he stated his position. It was clear that he was still thinking through some of the implications of his new-found belief in a Creator.
Asked what prompted him to so dramatically change his views, Flew focused on one particular issue. "Einstein felt that there must be intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical world," he said. "If that is a sound argument, the integrated complexity of the organic world is just inordinately greater all the creatures are complicated pieces of design. So an argument that is important about the physical world is immeasurably stronger when applied to the biological world."
He said in his opinion it was "just obvious that [this] argument is much stronger now" than ever before.
Interestingly, this is some of the evidence I discuss in my book The Case for a Creator, which retraces and expands upon the scientific investigation that led me from atheism to Christianity. Included in my book is an eye-opening interview with Dr. Michael Behe, the biochemist from Lehigh University, who describes complex and interdependent biological systems that cant be explained by Darwinian evolution and instead are better explained as the work of an Intelligent Designer.
During my interview, Flew spoke out strongly against Islam (calling it "intellectually contemptible") and made it clear that hes not yet a Christian. Still, as I pressed him on the attributes of the God he believes in, I was struck by how they tracked so well with the Christian conception of the Creator. For instance, Flew said he thinks the Creator is an omnipotent, eternal, conscious and intelligent being.
Although Flew takes a deistic approach by saying the Creator is uninvolved with humanity, he did concede that "its a reasonable thing for someone to argue" that the Creator is caring toward those he created.
Concerning Christianity, Flew called Jesus "a defining case of a charismatic figure." I probed on the issue of the resurrection a topic on which the atheist Flew had debated with Christian philosopher Gary Habermas in the past. Previously, Flews position was that a miraculous event like the resurrection wasnt possible because God didnt exist.
I pointed out that since Flew now believes in a supernatural Creator, then the possibility of Jesus resurrection becomes more plausible. His reply was encouraging to me: "Im sure youre right about this, yes," he said.
Still, Flew said he hopes there is no afterlife. "I dont want to go on forever," he said. "Really?" I asked. "Even if theres a heaven?" Flew replied: "Well, it would depend rather on what the activities were."
"If the Christian God exists," I said, "What would he have to do to convince you?"
As an atheist for most of his life, this wasnt something Flew had pondered. "Ive never thought about this at all," he said. Then he added: "But he would presumably know."
I pointed out that famous atheist Bertrand Russell said that if he were ever confronted with God, he would complain to him that he had failed to provide sufficient evidence of his existence. "But youve found enough evidence of an Intelligence, so youre further along than he was."
"Yes, oh, yes," he said. "I mean, theres been a gigantic advance in the sciences since the death of Bertrand Russell."
I asked whether it would require an encounter with God for him to believe in Christianity. "Well, yes, it would, but until youve had that experience, I think its impossible to believe it. You know, if I now had this sort of experience, it wouldnt seem right to me. I would wonder what was going on [and whether] I was going crazy."
His biggest barrier to Christianity, he said, is the doctrine of hell. "If I had begun as a Christian believer, I should have believed in the goodness of God, and I should regard itas I do regard it nowas totally inconsistent with the doctrine of eternal torment for anyone."
At one point, he commented: "If I had been brought up in a Catholic school [with the teaching about hell], I would presumably have been terrorized into belief."
I mentioned to him that my book The Case for Faith includes an interview with Christian philosopher J. P. Moreland on the rationality of hell. Flew said he would be willing to read the chapter if I sent it to him.
A few minutes later, as we were saying goodbye in the lobby of the hotel where the interview had taken place, someone came up to me with a copy of The Case for Faith and asked if I would sign it.
Instead, I promised to send the person another copyand promptly took the book, marked the chapter on hell, and gave it to Flew.
No word yet on whether it has influenced his thinking.
Dunno but it's a pretty good bet that it wasn't RM/NS.
So if some being created God, who created that being? And who created the one that created God? And who created the one who created, the one who created, the one who created,....? And so on ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
What's your point? And just how far back do you want to take that agrument?
Good point. How can one be more of an atheist than the next one?
Aristotle rejected the infinite regress. I wonder why.
Sirlinksalot puts it well: If God is understood as Eternal, everlasting, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Perfect, one who always was and always will be, then this is like asking the question, Who created the one who is Eternal, Everlasting, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Perfect, one who always was and always will be.
The Greeks had it right, something must be eternal. This explains the logical absurdity of atheism. There are only nominal atheists.
LoL.. Now thats funny...
God is in the mind of the beholder.
How does one get to be the top athiest ?
An utterly absurd statement.
Funny what a little chest pain at 80 will do. There are no atheists in foxholes.
If all of space-time came into creation via the Big Bang, then it would seem the initiator of the Big Bang (i.e., God) would exist prior to and independent of the dimension of time... the dimension of cause and effect. That would seem to fit with the concept that God is an uncaused being.
But now we're getting into things a bit deep for the human mind...
"Why is there something rather than nothing?" - Leibniz
Fascinating, SirLinksalot. Thank you so much for posting this interview with Flew. bttt
I had this conversation earlier tonight...to definitively rule out the existence of God, one must, quite literally, know everything...if one knows everything, one is omniscient, and by knowing all things, one therefore knows how to accomplish all things, and is therefore omnipotent as well...in other words, one must be divine to rule out the existence of God with any certainty. One without divine qualities can only at best, guess at the matter, making their conclusions every bit a matter of faith as one who believes...
...although faith in the existence of an almighty is indeed, far more logically supportable than faith in the absence thereof.
Mr Flew, meet Chuck Norris.Mr Norris meet Mr flew.
Being 83 years old might have something to do with it. As you approach eternity, you better not be wrong.
Simple minded me, all I have to do is stand on a mountain peak, and observe everything that is going on down there. Think from the smallest neutrino on the tip of your finger, and build on that thought out to beyond the edge of the universe, and ask, "Is this all an accident?"
And don't bother me with your mathematical formulas that explain it all. I'm too simple-minded for all that.
you should practice that.
Thanks for the ping!
"My vision of hell is to be alone, without God."
Actually, there is an excellent scriptural case for the premise that it's the presence of God that MAKES Hell Hell.
lol....that was exactly my first thought.