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Antony Flew, Unatheist, Dies at 87
The ^ | Tuesday, April 13, 2010 | John Bergsma

Posted on 04/14/2010 9:44:46 AM PDT by Salvation

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Antony Flew, Unatheist, Dies at 87

Antony Flew, world's most famous ex-atheist, has passed away at age 87.

Not everyone may remember Flew or his significance. I do, because Flew was the "Richard Dawkins" of my childhood. Actually, Flew was never "Richard Dawkins," because he was never as crass and philosophically illiterate as Dawkins; but when I was younger, Flew was the key voice for atheism in the English-speaking world, as Dawkins appears to be now.

When I was in fourth grade I read a book entitled "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?", a debate between Flew and Christian apologist Gary Habermas. The general consensus was that Habermas won the debate; I certainly thought so, after reading the book. It was a key point in my own intellectual development, because it convinced me that one could make solid rational arguments for the veracity of Christian faith.

I was completely taken aback just two years ago when the news broke that Flew had changed his mind. After dialoguing with a Catholic proponent of intelligent design theory for years, Flew finally came to concede that the marvelously complex features of the universe--like the fine tuning of cosmological constants and the information content of DNA--were inexplicable without positing a Mind behind them. Therefore, Flew became a Deist. He never--so far as I know--became a Christian, although he counted Christians among his friends.

So long, Professor Flew. You were a model of the intellectually honest gentleman scholar. You always treated your opponents with respect, and tried to follow truth wherever it lead you, even when that was someplace you didn't want to go.

May you find that the God you knew as your Designer is also your Father. I pray you have discovered it to be so.

TOPICS: Religion & Science; Skeptics/Seekers
KEYWORDS: atheism; atheists; bornagain; christian; epiphany; obituary
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I'm not familiar with this gentleman so can not pronounce judgment, but I thought his conversion to Christianity was quite interesting

I also have no idea if this man really connected with any Christian denomination.

Perhaps others of you are more knowledgeable here.

1 posted on 04/14/2010 9:44:47 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: Salvation

He made it. Thanks be to God.

2 posted on 04/14/2010 9:50:03 AM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: stylecouncilor


3 posted on 04/14/2010 9:51:25 AM PDT by windcliff
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To: Salvation

“In December 2004, an interview with Flew conducted by Gary Habermas was published in the journal Philosophia Christi (published by the Evangelical Philosophical Society with the assistance of Biola University), with the title, Atheist Becomes Theist - Exclusive Interview with Former Atheist Antony Flew. Flew agreed to this title. According to the introduction, Flew informed Habermas in January 2004 that he had become a deist, and the interview took place shortly thereafter. Then the text was amended by both participants over the following months prior to publication. In the article Flew states that he has left his long-standing espousal of atheism by endorsing a deism of the sort that Thomas Jefferson advocated (”While reason, mainly in the form of arguments to design, assures us that there is a God, there is no room either for any supernatural revelation of that God or for any transactions between that God and individual human beings.”). Flew stated that “the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries” and that “the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it”. He also answered in the affirmative to Habermas’s question, “So of the major theistic arguments, such as the cosmological, teleological, moral, and ontological, the only really impressive ones that you take to be decisive are the scientific forms of teleology?”. He supported the idea of an Aristotelian God with “the characteristics of power and also intelligence”, stating that the evidence for it was stronger than ever before. He rejects the ideas of an afterlife, of God as the source of good (he explicitly states that God has created “a lot of” evil), and of the resurrection of Jesus as a historical fact though he has allowed a short chapter arguing for Christ’s resurrection to be added into his latest book.”

Flew is particularly hostile to Islam, and says it is “best described in a Marxian way as the uniting and justifying ideology of Arab imperialism.” In a December 2004 interview he said: “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.”

“When asked in December 2004 by Duncan Crary of Humanist Network News if he still stood by the argument presented in The Presumption of Atheism, Flew replied he did but he also restated his position as deist: “I’m quite happy to believe in an inoffensive inactive god”. When asked by Crary whether or not he has kept up with the most recent science and theology, he responded with “Certainly not”, stating that there is simply too much to keep up with. Flew also denied that there was any truth to the rumours of 2001 and 2003 that he had converted to Christianity.” href=””>

4 posted on 04/14/2010 9:54:06 AM PDT by James C. Bennett
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To: Salvation

Mr Dawkins and other atheists, we’re praying for your conversion now. May you know Christ, and may you see the beatific vision with great joy.

5 posted on 04/14/2010 9:55:11 AM PDT by agere_contra
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To: Salvation
I had to read Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker" in college.

While I realize Dawkins was trying to discredit creation (intelligent design), the book actually reinforced my belief in creation. I think the professor was hoping for minds full of mush, but I was older than most of the class and wasn't buying it. I argued with him and my poli-sci prof the most. I got good grades, even though we disagreed, because they were honest about it.

6 posted on 04/14/2010 10:01:59 AM PDT by IYAS9YAS (The townhalls were going great until the oPods showed up.)
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To: Salvation

I hope God is merciful. Flew abandoned atheism in the end after decades of extolling it around the world.

7 posted on 04/14/2010 10:02:54 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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To: Salvation

I read the debate between him and Thomas B. Warren many years ago, and found it most interesting. As debates go, what was unusual about this one was Dr. Flew’s affirmative position that God does not exist - which means he was obligated to not only cast doubt on God’s existence (the agnostic position), but to go much further and prove the negative.

His arguments were well-constructed, but required irrational leaps. For whatever reasons, he was obviously willing to make those necessary leaps throughout most of his life. But I suspect that willingness faltered in his later years, and he submitted to the truth.

(Seems to me God has His ways of steering us in the right direction, while still leaving us free to rebel. That story is told again and again throughout the Bible.)

8 posted on 04/14/2010 10:18:47 AM PDT by LearsFool ("Thou shouldst not have been old, till thou hadst been wise.")
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To: Salvation

Sadly, Flew only got it HALF right before he died.

9 posted on 04/14/2010 10:23:41 AM PDT by reaganaut (Ex-mormon, now Christan - "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see")
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To: Salvation
He wasn't a Christian. He was a Deist. He came to believe in A god of some kind, not necessarily the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. He simply came to believe in a kind of universal prime mover.
10 posted on 04/14/2010 10:25:32 AM PDT by DesScorp
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To: Salvation
I'm not familiar with this gentleman so can not pronounce judgment, but I thought his conversion to Christianity was quite interesting

AFAIK, it was not a conversion to (any form of) Christianity. It was a conversion so simple theism. Simple theism is inadequate for salvation.

Yeah, I should get his book.

11 posted on 04/14/2010 10:32:38 AM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: James C. Bennett
Flew Stated:"We reject all transcendent supernatural systems, not because we've examined or could have examined each in turn, but because it does not seem to us that there is any good evidence in reason to postulate anything behind or beyond this natural universe,"

The trouble is, there is no rational basis for this presupposition. All epistemological systems must start with certain primary assumptions ("axioms") which can neither be proven or disproved by reason. It is these presuppositional foundations which dictate how one percieves reality (ie. metaphysics). The test is how well does any given epistemology explain human experience. I would argue that an empirical epistemology makes no sense of human experience. Only when we start out presupposing the truth of scripture does our reality make sense.

12 posted on 04/14/2010 11:00:13 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: circlecity

Which returns the problem: Which scripture?

13 posted on 04/14/2010 11:07:25 AM PDT by James C. Bennett
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To: James C. Bennett

The traditional cannon does nicely. 1800 years of experience can’t be sneezed at.

14 posted on 04/14/2010 11:26:26 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: circlecity

Time is immaterial. Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu scriptures go older, and you will have people subscribing to those precisely because it involves faith.

15 posted on 04/14/2010 11:37:24 AM PDT by James C. Bennett
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To: James C. Bennett
Jewish “scripture” is part of the orthodox cannon. Buddhist and Hindu “scripture”, to the extent there is such a thing, completely contradicts human experience and makes no sense of reality, less so than the empiricists.
16 posted on 04/14/2010 11:39:34 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: circlecity

The Bhagavad-Gita.

The Harvard Classics, 1909–1914.

Chapter XII

LORD! of the men who serve Thee—true in heart—
As God revealed; and of the men who serve,
Worshipping Thee Unrevealed, Unbodied, far,
Which take the better way of faith and life?

Whoever serve Me—as I show Myself—
Constantly true, in full devotion fixed,
These hold I very holy. But who serve—
Worshipping Me The One, The Invisible,
The Unrevealed, Unnamed, Unthinkable,
Uttermost, All-pervading, Highest, Sure—         10
Who thus adore Me, mastering their sense,
Of one set mind to all, glad in all good,
These blessed souls come unto Me.
        Yet, hard
The travail is for whoso bend their minds         15
To reach th’ Unmanifest. That viewless path
Shall scarce be trod by man bearing his flesh!
But whereso any doeth all his deeds,
Renouncing self in Me, full of Me, fixed
To serve only the Highest, night and day         20
Musing on Me—him will I swiftly lift
Forth from life’s ocean of distress and death
Whose soul clings fast to Me. Cling thou to Me!
Clasp Me with heart and mind! so shalt thou dwell
Surely with Me on high. But if thy thought         25
Droops from such height; if thou be’st weak to set
Body and soul upon Me constantly,
Despair not! give Me lower service! seek
To read Me, worshipping with steadfast will;
And, if thou canst not worship steadfastly,         30
Work for Me, toil in works pleasing to Me!
For he that laboreth right for love of Me
Shall finally attain! But, if in this
Thy faint heart fails, bring Me thy failure! find
Refuge in Me! let fruits of labor go,         35
Renouncing all for Me, with lowliest heart,
So shalt thou come; for, though to know is more
Than diligence, yet worship better is
Than knowing, and renouncing better still
Near to renunciation—very near—         40
Dwelleth Eternal Peace!
        Who hateth nought
Of all which lives, living himself benign,
Compassionate, from arrogance exempt,
Exempt from love of self, unchangeable         45
By good or ill; patient, contented, firm
In faith, mastering himself, true to his word,
Seeking Me, heart and soul; vowed unto Me,—
That man I love! Who troubleth not his kind,
And is not troubled by them; clear of wrath,         50
Living too high for gladness, grief, or fear,
That man I love! Who, dwelling quiet-eyed, 
Stainless, serene, well-balanced, unperplexed,
Working with Me, yet from all works detached,
That man I love! Who, fixed in faith on Me,         55
Dotes upon none, scorns none; rejoices not,
And grieves not, letting good and evil hap
Light when it will, and when it will depart,
That man I love! Who, unto friend and foe
Keeping an equal heart, with equal mind         60
Bears shame and glory, with an equal peace
Takes heat and cold, pleasure and pain; abides
Quit of desires, hears praise or calumny
In passionless restraint, unmoved by each,
Linked by no ties to earth, steadfast in Me,         65
That man I love! But most of all I love
Those happy ones to whom ’tis life to live
In single fervid faith and love unseeing,
Eating the blessèd Amrit of my Being!
Here endeth Chapter XII. of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ,
entitled “Bhakityôgô,” or “The Book of
the Religion of Faith”

17 posted on 04/14/2010 11:49:54 AM PDT by James C. Bennett
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To: James C. Bennett
So? I fail to find anything in there explaining the origin of creation, the reliability of logic or the existence of moral absolutes.
18 posted on 04/14/2010 12:03:52 PM PDT by circlecity
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To: circlecity

Such parts of scripture are generally taken to be myth. For example it is scientifically inconceivable that the human race, all 6+ billion of its individuals, was borne out of incest between the progeny of a primary mating pair, and that one member of this pair lived 900+ years. DNA analyses, and modern fossil records overwhelmingly support the evidence for a world older than 5000-odd years.

19 posted on 04/14/2010 12:08:05 PM PDT by James C. Bennett
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To: James C. Bennett
"Such parts of scripture are generally taken to be myth. For example it is scientifically inconceivable ..."

Generally taken by who? I can conceive of it quite easily. And please explain rationally why scientific conceivability is an essential foundation for metaphysical reality rather than just being one aspect of a larger construct?

20 posted on 04/14/2010 12:13:13 PM PDT by circlecity
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