Professor Antony Flew and co-author Abraham Varghese have written a book, There Is a God, describing Flew's "conversion" from atheism to deism. Although Flew grew up as the son of a preacher, the problem of evil and Flew's academic studies led him to disbelieve in God's existence.
Flew's early writings
Much of the first few chapters of There Is a God examined Flew's philosophical writings for atheism and against the existence of God. For Flew, at the time, there just wasn't enough evidence in support of the existence of God. By default, he reasoned, atheism was the logical choice, and it was up to the theists to present the evidence supporting their case for the existence of God. In all Flew's writings, it is apparent that the existence of evil is still a problem for him, and that he considers this problem as eliminating the possibility of God being personal. Flew still insists that the free will defense argument does not exonerate God from the responsibility for the existence of evil. However, at this point, I think most theists acknowledge that God is ultimately responsible for evil, but that evil is required to fulfill the purpose for the creation of the universe.
In Antony Flew's 2004 "coming out" debut, he admitted that the evidence for design (specifically in DNA) was responsible for his change of mind regarding the existence of a divine Designer:
"Yes, I now think it does... almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinary diverse elements to work together."
In other discussions, Flew admitted that he had a difficult time believing in any scientific theories that attempted to explain the origin of the first replicator. He also indicated that the Big Bang creation event had been a problem for his atheism "because it suggested that the universe had a beginning and that the first sentence of Genesis (In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth") was related to an event in the universe." Flew was uncomfortable with alternatives, saying, "I did not find the multiverse alternative very helpful. The postulation of multiple universes, I maintained, is a truly desperate alternative."
There has been some controversy about the nature of Flew's "conversion" and role in the writing of There Is a God, especially in light of his advanced age. However, in subsequent interviews, Flew has maintained that the book accurately represents his current thinking on the existence of God. According to a press release from Harper Collins (the publisher):
"My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 percent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I'm 84 and that was Roy Varghese's role. The idea that someone manipulated me because I'm old is exactly wrong. I may be old but it is hard to manipulate me. This is my book and it represents my thinking."
The idea that Antony Flew is not a deist was thoroughly rebutted by himself in his review of Richard Dawkins's book, The God Delusion.1 In the review, Flew calls Dawkins a "secularist bigot" and chides him for failing to address Einstein's deism or even properly defining deism anywhere in his book. Such writings do not reflect those of a senile old man.
The book, There Is a God is an interesting examination of how a long-time atheist could change his mind about the existence of God. The book seems to be an honest examination of what Flew has changed his mind about and where he is still convinced that God could not be personally involved in human lives. Will Antony Flew become a Christian? In the book, he indicates that he is still open to Christianity, although there are many issues to resolve before that becomes a possibility. The book is quite readable without being overly technical, so it is recommended for all readers of this site.
Read Antony Flew's book, There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? - Antony Flew Renounces Atheism
- Atheist Becomes Theist: Exclusive Interview with Former Atheist Antony Flew
- Famed atheist concedes: evidence points to God
- There is Too Much Evil and Suffering For God to Exist?
- Why are Most Scientists Atheists If There is Evidence for Belief in God?
- Did Albert Einstein Believe in a Personal God?
- Religion vs. IQ - Are Religious People Stupid?
- Flew, Antony. 2008. Flew Speaks Out: Professor Antony Flew reviews The God Delusion.
Last Modified July 20, 2008