Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Famous Atheist Now Believes in God
Yahoo ^ | 12/9/04 | RICHARD N. OSTLING

Posted on 12/09/2004 1:15:38 PM PST by ZGuy

NEW YORK - A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. 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 super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

Flew said he's best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people's lives.

"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said. "It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose."

Flew first made his mark with the 1950 article "Theology and Falsification," based on a paper for the Socratic Club, a weekly Oxford religious forum led by writer and Christian thinker C.S. Lewis.

Over the years, Flew proclaimed the lack of evidence for God while teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, and Reading universities in Britain, in visits to numerous U.S. and Canadian campuses and in books, articles, lectures and debates.

There was no one moment of change but a gradual conclusion over recent months for Flew, a spry man who still does not believe in an afterlife.

Yet biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says in the new video, "Has Science Discovered God?"

The video draws from a New York discussion last May organized by author Roy Abraham Varghese's Institute for Metascientific Research in Garland, Texas. Participants were Flew; Varghese; Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jew; and Roman Catholic philosopher John Haldane of Scotland's University of St. Andrews.

The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the August-September issue of Britain's Philosophy Now magazine. "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote.

The letter commended arguments in Schroeder's "The Hidden Face of God" and "The Wonder of the World" by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.

This week, Flew finished writing the first formal account of his new outlook for the introduction to a new edition of his "God and Philosophy," scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Press.

Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but if his belief upsets people, well "that's too bad," Flew said. "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads."

Last week, Richard Carrier, a writer and Columbia University graduate student, posted new material based on correspondence with Flew on the atheistic www.infidels.org Web page. Carrier assured atheists that Flew accepts only a "minimal God" and believes in no afterlife.

Flew's "name and stature are big. Whenever you hear people talk about atheists, Flew always comes up," Carrier said. Still, when it comes to Flew's reversal, "apart from curiosity, I don't think it's like a big deal."

Flew told The Associated Press his current ideas have some similarity with American "intelligent design" theorists, who see evidence for a guiding force in the construction of the universe. He accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life.

A Methodist minister's son, Flew became an atheist at 15.

Early in his career, he argued that no conceivable events could constitute proof against God for believers, so skeptics were right to wonder whether the concept of God meant anything at all.

Another landmark was his 1984 "The Presumption of Atheism," playing off the presumption of innocence in criminal law. Flew said the debate over God must begin by presuming atheism, putting the burden of proof on those arguing that God exists.


TOPICS: Skeptics/Seekers
KEYWORDS: antonyflew; atheism; atheist; morality
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-153 next last

1 posted on 12/09/2004 1:15:39 PM PST by ZGuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

"God is dead" - Neitchze

"Atheism is dead" - science


2 posted on 12/09/2004 1:22:03 PM PST by mike182d
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

At 81 you may want to start making plans for the next step.


3 posted on 12/09/2004 2:07:18 PM PST by escapefromboston (manny ortez: mvp)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
There are never any atheist's in foxholes.

At 81, he is in the foxhole now. Kinda sad, but reality.

4 posted on 12/09/2004 2:10:18 PM PST by Cold Heat (What are fears but voices awry?Whispering harm where harm is not and deluding the unwary. Wordsworth)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

My grandfather was a self-professed Atheist all his life. Until his death at 101. Or rather, until right before his death when he changed his mind.


5 posted on 12/09/2004 2:18:55 PM PST by isthisnickcool (John Kerry in 2008!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

I sure hope this thread attracts the Fr-atheists, I'm waiting for their responses.

I'm praying they respond. ;-)


6 posted on 12/09/2004 2:19:54 PM PST by wallcrawlr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: isthisnickcool

101! wow, talk about waiting till the last minute.


7 posted on 12/09/2004 2:27:59 PM PST by escapefromboston (manny ortez: mvp)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

bump for Later


8 posted on 12/09/2004 3:05:59 PM PST by Pagey (Hillary talking about the bible is as hypocritical as Bill carrying one out of church for 8 years)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: escapefromboston

That was my thought...He jumped the fence none too soon.


9 posted on 12/09/2004 3:06:33 PM PST by My2Cents ("Well...there you go again.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

One Flew, out of the "cuckoo's nest"...


10 posted on 12/09/2004 3:06:59 PM PST by mikrofon (Academe)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: mike182d
"God is dead" - Neitchze

"Nietzsche is dead." — God :)
12 posted on 12/09/2004 3:08:44 PM PST by Tealc (Mail me if you want on or off my Jaffa, Kree! ping list)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

"It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism,"

200 years ago there was no better explanation for how man came to be than the 6 day story of creation. By today's standards, that assumption is ridiculous, in time, Flew's statement above will be too.


13 posted on 12/09/2004 3:12:22 PM PST by Alacarte (Madam I'm adaM)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: valuesvaluesvalues

"He sounds like a Unitarian."

Indeed he does. I like to call Unitarians "Nothingtarians."
Because it their attempt to embrace everything some, they actually embrace nothing at all. Unitarians are just religious humanists. It is a warm and fuzzy group, that want "religon" but not anything that would make demands on them. IMHO!


14 posted on 12/09/2004 3:15:44 PM PST by Sola Veritas (Trying to speak truth - not always with the best grammar or spelling)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
He accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life.

Please, anyone who fights against the teaching of evolution in public schools, please read and understand this line.

Creationist ideas and the new "intelligent design" fad are not science. Doesn't mean they're not right, just that they make no testable predictions. More importantly, they do not conflict in any way with the concepts and teaching of evolution, which does not, despite many people's conception of it, claim any starting point or origin of life. Darwinian evolution merely describes how organisms change, not how they began. Plus, added bonus, it is scientific, which means it makes predictions about the fossil record that can then be proved or disproved. Please don't muddle the scientific education of our children with things that are not science.

Sorry to rant, but I've been distressed by the number of stories in the news lately about "evolution vs. ", when there is in fact to conflict there to speak of.

15 posted on 12/09/2004 3:18:51 PM PST by munchtipq
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said.

Flew evolved from ignorant "atheist" to idiotic "deist."

It's amazing how many so-called "intellectuals" run a deficit when it comes to adding 2+2 or common sense.

16 posted on 12/09/2004 3:20:58 PM PST by F16Fighter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mike182d
"God is dead" - Neitchze

"Atheism is dead" - science

"God and Neitchze are bothGHAAAK!... - Grut

17 posted on 12/09/2004 3:27:15 PM PST by Grut
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins,"

Well, I do remember something about his son(s) dying...

18 posted on 12/09/2004 3:31:33 PM PST by MWS
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy; little jeremiah; ArGee; scripter

BTTT


19 posted on 12/09/2004 3:35:55 PM PST by EdReform (Free Republic - helping to keep our country a free republic. Thank you for your financial support!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MeekOneGOP; Grampa Dave

GI Ping


20 posted on 12/09/2004 3:37:15 PM PST by EdReform (Free Republic - helping to keep our country a free republic. Thank you for your financial support!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stillwaters; Pride in the USA

A very interesting read!


21 posted on 12/09/2004 3:41:04 PM PST by lonevoice (Vast Right Wing Pajama Party)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Flew is a philosopher and as such can choose to use different schools of thought to explore problems. He has the flexibility of being able to explore ideas of creation outside of the confides of scientific methodology. He can choose to believe in things using standards of his own selection. Atheists aren't all cut from the same block of wood, some of us have different philosophical backgrounds. I've read Flew would say that his acceptance of ID seems reasonable to his standards ( which have changed through the years) but not to someone who resides staunchly in the school of modern skepticism like myself.


22 posted on 12/09/2004 3:45:50 PM PST by stacytec
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

He's probably gotten over hating the old man and being a smart guy realizes that calling oneself an atheist is really an untenable position.


23 posted on 12/09/2004 3:48:09 PM PST by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy; EdReform; Alamo-Girl; onyx; ALOHA RONNIE; SpookBrat; Republican Wildcat; Howlin; ...
Famous Atheist Now Believes in God

Excerpt:

NEW YORK - A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. 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 super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.


Please let me know if you want ON or OFF my General Interest ping list!. . .don't be shy.


24 posted on 12/09/2004 3:48:54 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP! )
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said.

Well, he still is wrong!

25 posted on 12/09/2004 3:50:33 PM PST by airborne (God bless and keep our fallen heroes.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: munchtipq

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-backroom/1291515/posts

Want to try to convince some staunch followers of Morris and Ham about this?


26 posted on 12/09/2004 3:52:42 PM PST by shubi (Peace through superior firepower.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: shubi

Poor old fool. (From Psalms 14:1: The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.) Better he wised up late than never, but so what? He's a dime a dozen as an atheist: a little more valuable as a believer.


27 posted on 12/09/2004 4:17:16 PM PST by dimmer-rats stealvotes
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Bump!


28 posted on 12/09/2004 4:18:26 PM PST by jonno (We are NOT a democracy - though we are democratic. We ARE a constitutional republic.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

Carrier assured atheists that Flew accepts only a "minimal God" and believes in no afterlife.

If I've got this straight, Flew thinks he needs God, in order to explain the existence of the complex Cosmos we've found ourselves in. But Flew also thinks that same God needs to be minimal.

Hmmmm....

29 posted on 12/09/2004 4:28:48 PM PST by syriacus (Who wanted Margaret Hassan murdered? What did she know about the oil-for-food scandal?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Interesting. Ping for later review.


30 posted on 12/09/2004 4:32:10 PM PST by Kevin OMalley (Kevin O'Malley)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MeekOneGOP; little jeremiah

Maybe he's a "Frisbee-tarian" When they die their souls fly up on the roof and nobody can get it down. :^)


31 posted on 12/09/2004 4:35:11 PM PST by DirtyHarryY2K (Perversion is not a civil right.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: dimmer-rats stealvotes

Actually, Flew is one of the most influential philosophers in the world.

This is really HUGE (no, I don't mean "hugh") news. He is part of the bedrock intellectual base for atheism. I think an earthquake just occurred. Many folks here just don't realize the immensity of this news. I'm not speaking of Flew's salvation, I'm talking about the whole world of ideas.

His comments about Intelligent Design will Phillip Johnson and company a tremendous boost. Morris and Ham may have lost a few points.

I love the line about "I don't thnk its a big deal". That's just a way of saying, "Move along, fellow atheists. Nothing to see here."

As to his not being a Christian, CS Lewis took years to go from atheist to idealist, idealist to theist, and lastly theist to Christian.


32 posted on 12/09/2004 4:38:52 PM PST by newberger (The amazing thing about communication is that it ever occurs at all!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
He accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life.

This exposes either the ignorance of the article's author or of Flew himself.

The ultimate origins of life are a seperate matter from Darwinian evolution. No, Darwinian evolution does not explain the ultimate origins of life, but then it never tried to explain it. It's like arguing that Darwinian evolution is inadequate to explain how to properly install Windows XP. Yes, the theory doesn't explain that matter at all, but the theory was never devised to explain such a thing.
33 posted on 12/09/2004 5:04:19 PM PST by Dimensio (Join the Monthly Internet Flash Mob: http://www.aa419.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: syriacus
Sounds to me like he's decided that since he can't come up with an explanation, he's giving in to assigning responsibility to an omnipotent (but minimalist) entity. Argument from ignorance, "I can't imagine a better explanation, so it must have been a divine agent." Actually rather arrogant and presumptious, for him to assume to know so much about the universe to rule out all but divine origin.
34 posted on 12/09/2004 5:08:04 PM PST by Dimensio (Join the Monthly Internet Flash Mob: http://www.aa419.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: MeekOneGOP
But what if this possibly intelligent and even perhaps purposeful god doesn't believe in Antony Flew?

After all, it's all about the importance of being Antony, isn't it?

35 posted on 12/09/2004 5:09:11 PM PST by xJones
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

He waited until he was 81 to read Thomas Aquinas?


36 posted on 12/09/2004 5:09:16 PM PST by Spok
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dimmer-rats stealvotes

judge not


37 posted on 12/09/2004 5:10:41 PM PST by shubi (Peace through superior firepower.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Dimensio

It doesn't explain how to install XP?

LOL


38 posted on 12/09/2004 5:11:45 PM PST by shubi (Peace through superior firepower.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
"It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," [Flew] wrote.

Current inability to explain a phenomenon scientifically does not imply that phenomenon's scientific inexplicability.

Professor Flew finds himself unable to explain the appearance of the first reproducing organism, and so he elects to posit the existence of a non-physical universal intelligence that (somehow) produced that organism (and, presumably, everything else). Either Flew has an exaggerated sense of his own intelligence ("If I can't explain it, it can't be scientifically explained!") or else he's lost a step or three in his judgment of the soundness of arguments (or both).

Flew is 81 years old—it's probably not that easy for him to micturate, either.


(Okay, that last bit was a snark, but, hey, I'm bored, and if I don't say something like that every now and then, I'm gonna have to forfeit my log-in name.)

39 posted on 12/09/2004 5:17:19 PM PST by snarks_when_bored
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Lindykim; DirtyHarryY2K; Siamese Princess; Ed Current; Grampa Dave; Luircin; gonow; John O; ...

Moral Absolutes Ping.

Facing the inevitability of imminent death certainly has a tendency to focus one's attention.

The reality is we should all feel that intensity.

I wonder if he'll live long enough to change his "opinion" about no afterlife?

Let me know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.


40 posted on 12/09/2004 5:20:55 PM PST by little jeremiah (What would happen if everyone decided their own "right and wrong"?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Spok
He waited until he was 81 to read Thomas Aquinas?

He couldn't beat the living C.S. Lewis in a debate. Flew loved the attention of crying, "I am an atheist!", in a time and a place where that was considered shocking. Now days, his only fall back is to hint that a blabbering 81 year-old professional atheist might just barely concede the possible existance of some kind of higher intelligence than his own. Anything for attention....

41 posted on 12/09/2004 5:25:23 PM PST by xJones
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: little jeremiah

I suspect when he turns 120 he may think that the afterlife exists, at 230 he may go to Church, and at 460 he will become a monk. No rush.


42 posted on 12/09/2004 5:30:18 PM PST by escapefromboston (manny ortez: mvp)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: wallcrawlr


It's sad to see Flew's senile.

:^)

Proudly, unabashed Classical liberal - and (shocking) - Atheist.


43 posted on 12/09/2004 6:13:22 PM PST by 4Liberty (The price of Liberty is personal responsibility.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

I wonder....... if some are scared of death at 81 or 8 and enbrace relgion


44 posted on 12/09/2004 6:38:26 PM PST by montanajoe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

I wonder....... if some are scared of death at 81 or 8 and enbrace relgion


45 posted on 12/09/2004 6:39:08 PM PST by montanajoe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dimensio
Sounds to me like he's decided that since he can't come up with an explanation,

No, he's come up with an explanation that countless others have through generations of humans. You just don't accept it. There is evidence that intelligence designs things. We have that evidence every time an artifact is discovered.

Carrier assured atheists that Flew accepts only a "minimal God" and believes in no afterlife.

Flew told The Associated Press his current ideas have some similarity with American "intelligent design" theorists, who see evidence for a guiding force in the construction of the universe. He accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life.

To you he is arrogant and presumptuous only when he disagrees with you. After all, he accepts Darwinian evolution.

46 posted on 12/09/2004 6:41:09 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

C.S. Lewis alert.


47 posted on 12/09/2004 6:43:18 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (if a man lives long enough, he gets to see the same thing over and over.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian . . .depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots

There has to be something wrong with Christian religious training in the UK to come up with this conclusion.

48 posted on 12/09/2004 6:45:47 PM PST by Tribune7
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: escapefromboston
101! wow, talk about waiting till the last minute.

The thief on the cross was a last minute convert.

49 posted on 12/09/2004 6:46:19 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: MineralMan; PatrickHenry; VadeRetro

There is hope for you guys yet. :-)


50 posted on 12/09/2004 6:46:26 PM PST by Tribune7
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-153 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson