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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
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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
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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)
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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.)
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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
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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
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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)
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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.)
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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
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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)
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To: MineralMan; PatrickHenry; VadeRetro

There is hope for you guys yet. :-)


50 posted on 12/09/2004 6:46:26 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop

ping


51 posted on 12/09/2004 6:46:51 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Tribune7
There has to be something wrong with Christian religious training in the UK to come up with this conclusion.

Darwin was English.

52 posted on 12/09/2004 6:47:26 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: ZGuy
He accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life.

Nor does the theory of evolution attempt to do so. It attempts to explain what happened after the origin of life.

53 posted on 12/09/2004 6:52:20 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: DirtyHarryY2K
hehe! :^D

54 posted on 12/09/2004 7:00:32 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP! )
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To: AndrewC
After all, he accepts Darwinian evolution.

Yeah, he just doesn't believe that it can explain something that it doesn't try to explain. Real master of the obvious there.
55 posted on 12/09/2004 7:00:53 PM PST by Dimensio (Join the Monthly Internet Flash Mob: http://www.aa419.org)
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To: AndrewC

As was Huxley. America has its share of atheists but they don't seem to be taken, or take themselves, quite as seriously.


56 posted on 12/09/2004 7:01:11 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Tribune7
There has to be something wrong with Christian religious training in the UK to come up with this conclusion.

In other words, he didn't come to the conclusion that you wanted, so clearly he's still in error.
57 posted on 12/09/2004 7:01:43 PM PST by Dimensio (Join the Monthly Internet Flash Mob: http://www.aa419.org)
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To: Dimensio
In other words, he didn't come to the conclusion that you wanted, so clearly he's still in error.

He seems to be coming around :-)

58 posted on 12/09/2004 7:03:10 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Dimensio
Actually, if Hell exists a despot would not care whether you end up there or not providing you provided unquestioning obedience.

In Christianity, Hell of course exists but God clearly does not want you to end up there and disobedience does not automatically consign one there.

59 posted on 12/09/2004 7:08:28 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Tribune7

Er, what has this to do with anything?


60 posted on 12/09/2004 7:10:02 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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