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The Turning of an Atheist (Antony Flew)
New York Times Magazine ^ | 4 November 2007 | MARK OPPENHEIMER

Posted on 11/03/2007 5:58:54 PM PDT by shrinkermd

THE STARTLING ARTICLE appeared on Dec. 9, 2004. “A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind,” Richard Ostling of The Associated Press wrote. “He now believes in God — more or less — based on scientific evidence and says so on a video released Thursday.

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A superintelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.”

The “video released Thursday” was “Has Science Discovered God?” a DVD of a May 2004 conversation, held in a television studio at New York University, between Flew and two popular advocates of theism, the Orthodox Jewish physicist Gerald Schroeder and the Christian philosopher John Haldane.

There are long stretches of Schroeder, sitting behind what looks like an anchorman’s desk, lecturing an attentive Flew on matters like the unlikelihood that an infinite number of monkeys typing randomly would ever produce a Shakespearean sonnet.

(He is rebutting Stephen Hawking, who argues in “A Brief History of Time” that nature, given enough time, can perform the wondrous feats that credulous people attribute to God.) Schroeder also talks about the Cambrian explosion of animal species hundreds of millions of years ago, which he says happened too suddenly to lack some supernatural guidance. Haldane chimes in to argue that certain human capabilities, like language and reproduction, can be explained only by a higher intelligence....“Many of the greatest scientists of all time” believed that “the intelligence of the universe, its laws, points to an intelligence that has no limitation.”

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: antonyflew; atheist; atheists; bornagain; conversions; design; evolution; intelligent
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"...Flew was a precocious 27 when he delivered the paper at a meeting of the Socratic Club, the Oxford salon presided over by C. S. Lewis. Reprinted in dozens of anthologies, “Theology and Falsification” has become a heroic tract for committed atheists. In a masterfully terse thousand words, Flew argues that “God” is too vague a concept to be meaningful. For if God’s greatness entails being invisible, intangible and inscrutable, then he can’t be disproved — but nor can he be proved. Such powerful but simply stated arguments made Flew popular on the campus speaking circuit; videos from debates in the 1970s show a lanky man, his black hair professorially unkempt, vivisecting religious belief with an English public-school accent perfect for the seduction of American ears. Before the current crop of atheist crusader-authors — Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens — there was Antony Flew.
1 posted on 11/03/2007 5:58:55 PM PDT by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd

“Although Flew still rejects Christianity, saying only that he now believes in “an intelligence that explains both its own existence and that of the world,”...”


2 posted on 11/03/2007 6:03:35 PM PDT by M. Dodge Thomas (Opinion based on research by an eyewear firm, which surveyed 100 members of a speed dating club.)
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To: M. Dodge Thomas

Another one just Flew out of the cuckoo’s nest!


3 posted on 11/03/2007 6:07:34 PM PDT by sodpoodle (If you can't handle the truth ......................................................try satire)
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To: shrinkermd

He’s 81. I have always said people believe in God the closer and closer they get to having to meet Him.


4 posted on 11/03/2007 6:08:12 PM PDT by Southerngl
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To: M. Dodge Thomas

He’s gettin’ pretty old. If he continues to reject The Lord Jesus Christ...and unless something miraculous happens...yuk


5 posted on 11/03/2007 6:08:47 PM PDT by shield (A wise man's heart is at his RIGHT hand;but a fool's heart at his LEFT. Ecc 10:2)
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To: shrinkermd

An atheist finds a sort of truth, then denies the power therein?

A start, does Flew move the ball forward past acceptance?


6 posted on 11/03/2007 6:09:30 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile/ No more miller brewing products, pass it on/Isaiah 3.3)
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To: shrinkermd

I’ll bet that it *killed* the Slimes to print this piece.


7 posted on 11/03/2007 6:12:25 PM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Wanna see how bad it can get? Elect Hillary and find out.)
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To: shrinkermd

“...wondrous feats that credulous people attribute to God.” and “Haldane chimes in to argue ...”. What arrogant reporting- but then it *is* the NYT, whose reporters imbue ultimate truths upon joining the august institution. Credulous readers then adopt their beliefs, and chime in during political discourse.


8 posted on 11/03/2007 6:16:12 PM PDT by paolop
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To: M. Dodge Thomas
I dismiss this as a deathbed CYA coming from an insufferable old humanist fart who is now counting down his date with a dirt nap on a stopwatch........


9 posted on 11/03/2007 6:21:01 PM PDT by Viking2002 (Fred in '08. Deal with it.)
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To: shrinkermd

I really wish God would start acting like He did in the Old Testament and just give a real kick to the Muslims and atheist marxist liberals.


10 posted on 11/03/2007 6:24:18 PM PDT by camerakid400
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To: camerakid400

He is the same. His ways are not our ways.


11 posted on 11/03/2007 6:26:35 PM PDT by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I didn't see it in my rear view mirror.)
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To: shrinkermd
"Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe."

Then what makes miracles special? They are an intervention against nature after all. It would be as if God admitted making some kind of mistake in the universe He made.

Or is it a matter of degrees? Everything is one grand miracle, but miracles are especially.... miraculous.

Flew is a Deist, by my estimation. But only God can judge.

12 posted on 11/03/2007 6:31:38 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: shrinkermd
Dinesh D'Sousa of late has come to the conclusion that the way to confront the anti-theists and atheists who have begun to evangelize their anti-theism is through reason rather than simply scripture.

Antony Flew arrived at his diesm, if it is indeed that, through reason, or so he tells us.

Perhaps Dinesh is on to something.

13 posted on 11/03/2007 6:34:28 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: camerakid400

Then things must be the way He wants them.


14 posted on 11/03/2007 6:55:09 PM PDT by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to.....otherwise, things would be different.)
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To: Viking2002

Really? So when is the cutoff for belief?


15 posted on 11/03/2007 6:58:10 PM PDT by Melas (Offending stupid people since 1963)
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To: camerakid400

That kind of change happens when the Messiah sets up the Kingdom of God on this earth, for His 1,000 year reign. That doesn’t happen to be too far away, perhaps a few weeks, months or a few years. We’re real close now...


16 posted on 11/03/2007 6:58:22 PM PDT by Star Traveler
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To: Southerngl

Me too and you are going to be dead a lot longer than you are going to be alive.


17 posted on 11/03/2007 6:59:26 PM PDT by freekitty ((May the eagles long fly our beautiful and free American sky.))
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To: shrinkermd

What caused the Big Bang, if not G-d? How can a universe appear out of a pin point of condensed matter? Further, the universe followed by ready made natural laws that enabled that boundless chaos to self organize into galaxies, solar systems, planets, life, and ultimately intelligence. If that is not evidence of G-d, I don’t know what is.


18 posted on 11/03/2007 7:12:39 PM PDT by rbg81 (DRAIN THE SWAMP!!)
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To: shrinkermd
The Angles are rejoicing another saved soul, glory to God in the Highest.
19 posted on 11/03/2007 7:14:29 PM PDT by boomop1 (there you go again)
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To: jwalsh07

Am reading Dinesh’s book, “What’s So Great About Christianity” and was going to order Flew’s book next.


20 posted on 11/03/2007 7:18:30 PM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: Freedom'sWorthIt
How do you like Dinesh's book thus far?

Did you happen to catch his debate with Christopher Hitchens?

21 posted on 11/03/2007 7:27:51 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: Southerngl
He’s 81. I have always said people believe in God the closer and closer they get to having to meet Him.

Thereby going to prove that as we drift into fear and dementia, we'll say anything to please our caretakers. Same thing with foxholes: crazed with fear your mind goes to mush.

22 posted on 11/03/2007 7:42:33 PM PDT by Misterioso
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To: boomop1
But how about those arcs?
23 posted on 11/03/2007 7:43:54 PM PDT by Misterioso
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To: Clemenza; Coleus; firebrand

ping


24 posted on 11/03/2007 7:45:59 PM PDT by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: Cacique
If I ever "turn back", there is little chance that I would ever go to some bureaucratic monstrosity headquartered in Rome...

I met Anthony Flew 10 years ago when I was at U of Chicago. Brilliant man, and very John Cleese-esque in his sense of humor.

25 posted on 11/03/2007 7:49:05 PM PDT by Clemenza (Rudy Giuliani, like Pesto and Seattle, belongs in the scrap heap of '90s Culture)
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To: camerakid400
I really wish God would start acting like He did in the Old Testament and just give a real kick to the Muslims and atheist marxist liberals.

What makes you think we're righteous by God's standards? I deserve hell as much as anyone, but by the grace of God I won't be getting what I deserve.

26 posted on 11/03/2007 8:12:48 PM PDT by xjcsa (Defenseless enemies are fun.)
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To: M. Dodge Thomas; shrinkermd
"... he now believes in “an intelligence that explains both its own existence and that of the world,”...”

That's a good trick, akin to Bill Cosby's, "Dad, he was a burglar. He took the window with him."

It may truly be that logic and observation don't explain everything in existence, but nothing else comes even close.

27 posted on 11/03/2007 8:16:11 PM PDT by NicknamedBob (Shake off all the fears & servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched/Jefferson)
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To: jwalsh07

D’Sousa is using classical Christian apologetics in his book, and I would encourage more Christians to explore this approach. Reason can only take you so far, but it can certainly point someone in the right direction. Flew is a prime example of the limits of reason. At some point the Holy Spirit has to create faith. There is a growing militant atheistic movement in our culture, and apologetics is a good way to confront it. No one is going to convince a dogmatic atheist that God exists, but you can influence someone that is open to the idea.


28 posted on 11/03/2007 8:26:59 PM PDT by Ferox
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To: shrinkermd
"... lecturing an attentive Flew on matters like the unlikelihood that an infinite number of monkeys typing randomly would ever produce a Shakespearean sonnet."

However unlikely it may seem, isn't this simply a matter of calculation?

How many monkeys would you have to have before the words "feed me" might appear? Or just "Help!"

Fewer, I'm sure. But if one has an infinite number of typists, the results must surely come about.

It could be Dan Brown's punishment in Hell to read through all that typing in order to find the Shakespearean Sonnet.

29 posted on 11/03/2007 8:33:53 PM PDT by NicknamedBob (Shake off all the fears & servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched/Jefferson)
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To: Ferox
Perhaps I gave the wrong impression of my impression of where Dinesh is going. I don't think he is exclusively using reason to oppose the anti-theists but he is making better use of it than many have in the past. IOW's reason and faith are not mutually exclusive and Dinesh has hit on very nice balance.

Regards,
John

30 posted on 11/03/2007 8:35:50 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: NicknamedBob
However unlikely it may seem, isn't this simply a matter of calculation?

Yup.

Fewer, I'm sure. But if one has an infinite number of typists, the results must surely come about.

Nope, there are time and space constraints in the universe. Fill it with typing monkeys since t=0+ till now and the probability of their typing a Shakespearean Sonnet is still operationally zero.

31 posted on 11/03/2007 8:47:45 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: NicknamedBob
And that's without the monkeys paying a survival price for hitting to many wrong keys. I can see it now, monkey heads exploding all over the universe creating new universes with typing monkeys trying to recreate a Shakespearean Sonnett.

In the beginning there were monkeys...

and then they exploded.

32 posted on 11/03/2007 8:50:28 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07
"Nope, there are time and space constraints in the universe. Fill it with typing monkeys since t=0+ till now and the probability of their typing a Shakespearean Sonnet is still operationally zero."

A universe filled with typing monkeys would collapse gravitationally, if you get my point.

However, nothing was said about conducting this experiment in the Universe. It is a mathematical proposition, and as such, has only mathematical constraints.

These days, we don't need mechanical typewriters, or monkeys either, for the experiment. One can easily set up a computer to produce letters at random. How many computers, and how long would it take before recognizable words and sentence fragments might appear?

My reference above to Dan Brown indicates that random letters tend to fall into recognizable patterns fairly quickly.

33 posted on 11/03/2007 8:59:09 PM PDT by NicknamedBob (Shake off all the fears & servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched/Jefferson)
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To: jwalsh07
"I can see it now, monkey heads exploding all over the universe creating new universes with typing monkeys trying to recreate a Shakespearean Sonnett."

One of the points missed in this thought experiment is the power of the infinite.

We have people describing God as infinitely powerful, but they themselves do not appreciate what infinite means.

Infinite means unending. In an unending string of letters, numbers, characters and spaces, the works of Shakespeare do appear.

They appear because the string cannot end until they do; as well as every other combination and near-combination that can possibly come about.

34 posted on 11/03/2007 9:08:36 PM PDT by NicknamedBob (Shake off all the fears & servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched/Jefferson)
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To: jwalsh07

I am learning so much from Dinesh’s book, starting with the open militancy of the “new Atheists”. His point so far is of course that it is Christianity upon which Western Civilization was founded to which it has brought the ideas that even atheists and the secularists claim as cherished ideals (such as the separation of church and state).

(Dinesh traces this principle which we in this country have now converted into “separation of religion from the state” from the very words of Jesus Christ who said, “Render unto Ceasar that which is Caesar’s and unto God, that which is God’s.”)

I am trying to read it slowly to digest and retain as much as possible. He talks about the Biblical illiteracy of modern America....along with the open anti-Christian, anti-God, militancy of many in our day.

Yes, I did manage to see the debate - part of it - between Dinesh and Christopher Hitchens which was absolutely spellbinding. I could have watched that all day.


35 posted on 11/03/2007 9:12:01 PM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: jwalsh07
"In the beginning there were monkeys...

and then they exploded."

To be, or not to be. That is the question. whether 'tis nobler in the hearrt to suffer ... awcrapanothertypo. this would be easier if these stupid keyboards were designed for monkey hands. wherewasInow?

To be or not to be, that is the qwereroou ... crap.

36 posted on 11/03/2007 9:15:13 PM PDT by NicknamedBob (Shake off all the fears & servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched/Jefferson)
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To: Misterioso

Oh yeah? Tell us, oh mysterious one, how many times have YOU have been shot at, hmm?

Have direct experience in this did you? Your "mind" turned to "mush"? Or was that just an involuntary pantload?

[honestly, I myself have never had to endure such bombardment that I crapped myself, but I believe the ones who say they have...]

37 posted on 11/03/2007 9:31:52 PM PDT by BlueDragon (a handgun is best used for fighting one's way to a RIFLE)
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To: shrinkermd

bookmark


38 posted on 11/03/2007 10:55:11 PM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: Southerngl

Bed-side conversions.

I believe this person will become a Christian.

BTW, who was the first person in Paradise after Jesus?

The Good Thief. Gives one something to think about, doesn’t it?


39 posted on 11/03/2007 11:11:33 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: BipolarBob

Indeed, since It has no ways at all. ( One must exist to have ways.) (Or means, for that matter)


40 posted on 11/04/2007 2:35:29 AM PST by swordoftruth13
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To: SteveMcKing

Unfortunately, Yahweh won’t tell, even after judging. It’s the ultimate voyeur:

sees all, knows all,

does nothing.


41 posted on 11/04/2007 2:35:30 AM PST by swordoftruth13
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To: jwalsh07

42 posted on 11/04/2007 2:49:31 AM PST by GodBlessRonaldReagan (Big dog, big dog, bow-wow-wow! We'll crush crime, now, now, now!)
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To: shrinkermd

.


43 posted on 11/04/2007 3:22:42 AM PST by azhenfud (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)
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To: shrinkermd

This isn’t any big surprise. At 81 he MUST be wondering what comes next. It’s easy to be an “athiest” when you are young and “bulletproof”.

There HAS to come a time when everyone wonders what happens after we die. If the “athiests” are right- we die and that’s all. Everything we did, everything we were means nothing. If the “NewAgers” are right, we reincarnate or join some “universal conscienceness”...or something...

Christians are the only ones who believe we have to account for the choices we make and that we answer to Someone. I understand that can be scary. And Christianity IS the only faith that says we WILL pay for those choices. It’s tough to imagine that there is actually something, or Someone, more important than precious little you.


44 posted on 11/04/2007 3:35:34 AM PST by 13Sisters76 ("It is amazing how many people mistake a certain hip snideness for sophistication. " Thos. Sowell)
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To: jwalsh07

Mark to watch the debate.


45 posted on 11/04/2007 4:05:26 AM PST by Blue Eyes (Praying for a miracle.)
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To: swordoftruth13

You signed up just to post this? The kitties smell troll bait.


46 posted on 11/04/2007 6:15:51 AM PST by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I didn't see it in my rear view mirror.)
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To: camerakid400

As an atheist, (though not a Madlyn Murray O’Hare doctrinaire atheist)my problem has always been this:

If God created the universe and all that’s in it, who created God?

It’s a chicken and egg argument. Who can explain it?


47 posted on 11/04/2007 6:25:38 AM PST by the tongue
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To: jwalsh07

“Dinesh D’Sousa of late has come to the conclusion that the way to confront the anti-theists and atheists who have begun to evangelize their anti-theism is through reason rather than simply scripture.”

I saw D’Sousa on Hannity and Colmes the other night, and I hear Hannity make maybe the stupidest comment I’ve ever heard a human utter. His comment spoke to how “these atheists” can deny the existence of God, how can they explain how the universe began?
My question is, how can Hannity explain it? What an a**hole. I generally find him to be pretty bright, but that put him down there with Johnny Edwards on the stupid meter.


48 posted on 11/04/2007 6:33:22 AM PST by the tongue
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To: the tongue

Hannity knows that God made the universe. To deny God in light of all that He has accomplished makes one less than intelligent sounding.


49 posted on 11/04/2007 7:39:05 AM PST by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I didn't see it in my rear view mirror.)
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To: the tongue
If God created the universe and all that’s in it, who created God?

God is a mystery. He has no beginning or end. He was not created and not bound by any "natural" laws.

50 posted on 11/04/2007 7:42:13 AM PST by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I didn't see it in my rear view mirror.)
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