Antony Flew’s Conversion to Deism: An Update

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In an earlier essay, I described Antony Flew’s apparent conversion from atheism to deism and took Professor Flew to task for accepting the arguments of the pseudoscientist Gerald Schroeder. I wished “that Professor Flew had read Mr. Schroeder’s work more carefully or had consulted critical references to Mr. Schroeder’s work before pronouncing Mr. Schroeder kosher.”

According to Richard Carrier (2005), who has become sort of an unofficial mouthpiece for Professor Flew, Professor Flew now admits that he has been “mistaught” by Mr. Schroeder and also, astonishingly, blames Richard Dawkins for his own misunderstanding of abiogenesis, or the development of life from nonliving matter.

Mr. Carrier adds further that Professor Flew appears to remain a deist but calls his new belief a “very modest defection from [his] previous unbelief.”

References.

Carrier, Richard, 2005, “Antony Flew Considers God - Sort of,” The Secular Web, http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=369. … Scroll down to “Update (January 2005).”

Young, Matt, 2004, “Antony Flew’s Conversion to Deism,” Panda’s Thumb, http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archi[…]/000687.html.

3 TrackBacks

Flew: He has seen the evidence from Icons of Intelligent Design on January 9, 2005 2:20 PM

Recent updates however show that Flew did not see the evidence and that his "conversion to Intelligent Design" was, as is so often the case, based on ignorance rather than fact. Read More

Antony Flew update from Eternal Recurrence on January 9, 2005 9:04 PM

Exactly what Antony Flew has converted to remains unclear, but he has distanced himself a bit from his recent news-making statements. He now concedes that he foolishly dismissed theories for how life could have arisen from inanimate matter, blaming Ger... Read More

Antony Flew update from Eternal Recurrence on January 9, 2005 9:05 PM

Exactly what Antony Flew has converted to remains unclear, but he has distanced himself a bit from his recent news-making statements. He now concedes that he foolishly dismissed theories for how life could have arisen from inanimate matter, blaming Ger... Read More

9 Comments

Nice see also Wedgie World for a look at how ID proponents are dealing with the news.

Consider the following event related to me my good friend, Dr. Michael Lewontin (UCSLM), several weeks ago. I didn’t think it important then, but perhaps I was mistaken …

I was at a cocktail party a few weeks ago and Richard Dawkins was there. We were waiting to use the little boy’s room. The previous user stepped out, ashen-faced, leaving a huge stench. As Dawkin’s entered the room, I heard him mutter, ‘Jesus Christ save us all!’

Is this yet another sign that naturalism is on its last legs? How long can the secular humanists keep their secret ceremonies hidden from the public???

Dawkins is not always right, but he is always clear.

Hello, fellow Panda-ers (panderers?).

I’ve been asked to post an article by Chuck Colson (Breakpoint), on Flew’s supposed conversion, by a creationist interested in hearing this group’s responses to what he feels must be a major blow to non-religious folk.

Incidentally, when I asked my correspondent

“If Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell were to suddenly convert to atheism, would that make YOU up and reject Jesus also? Or would you prefer to make your own decision about the matter?”

he responded

It is true that Jerry Falwell falling away from his faith would not affect mine and I wasn’t expecting you to be affected. I thought you would be concerned however that such an icon would change his mind.

So, here’s Colson’s article on Antony Flew:

Weighing the Evidence An Atheist Abandons Atheism

BreakPoint with Charles Colson

January 10, 2005

Antony Flew, the 81-year-old British philosophy professor who taught at Oxford and other leading universities, became an atheist at age 15. Throughout his long career he argued—including in debates with an atheist-turned-Christian named C. S. Lewis—that there was a “presumption of atheism,” that is, the existence of a creator could not be proved.

But he’s now been forced to face the evidence. It comes from the Intelligent Design movement, led by Dr. Phillip Johnson and particularly the work of Michael Behe, the Lehigh biochemist who has proven the “irreducible complexity” of the human cell structure. Though eighty-one years old, Flew has not let his thinking fossilize, but has faithfully followed his own dictum to “go where the evidence leads.”

Christian philosophy professor Gary Habermas of Liberty University conducted an interview with Flew that will be published in the winter issue of Philosophia Christi, the journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and Biola University. Flew told Habermas that a pivotal point in his thinking was when he realized two major flaws in the various theories of how nature might have created itself. First, he recognized that evolutionary theory has no reasonable explanation for “the first emergence of living from non-living matter”—that is, the origin of life. Second, even if a living cell or primitive animal had somehow assembled itself from non-living chemicals, he reasoned it would have no ability to reproduce.

Flew told Habermas, “This is the creature, the evolution of which a truly comprehensive theory of evolution must give some account. Darwin himself was well aware that he had not produced such an account. It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”

Flew has, thus, become a Deist—that is, he acknowledges God as creator but not as a personal deity. In his opinion, “There is no room either for any supernatural revelation of that God or any transactions between that God and individual human beings.” In fact, he told a group last May that he considers both the Christian God and the Islamic God to be “omnipotent Oriental despots—cosmic Saddam Husseins.”

But a crack is beginning to develop in his opinion that God hasn’t spoken through Scripture. When he reads the first chapter of Genesis, Flew says he’s impressed that a book written thousands of years ago harmonizes with twenty-first-century science. “That this biblical account might be scientifically accurate,” says Flew, “raises the possibility that it is revelation.” A book containing factual statements that no human knew about at the time of writing seems to argue that the authors must have had coaching from the Creator.

The evidence is there for all who will look, as his one-time adversary C. S. Lewis discovered, and as more and more thinking intellectuals are discovering today. So it is that Antony Flew, perhaps the most famous philosopher of atheism, is just a step or two away from the kingdom.

For further reading and information:

Today’s BreakPoint offer: Read Dr. Gary Habermas’s interview with Antony Flew, “ Atheist Becomes Deist: Exclusive Interview with Former Atheist Anthony Flew ,” from the winter 2004 issue of Philosophia Christi.

Read more about “irreducible complexity” in the “Worldview for Parents” page titled, “ More Than Coincidence .”

“Famous Atheist Now Believes in God ,” ABC News, 9 December 2004. … (several references you might check out in here…)

So, Pandies, whatcha think?

Regards, Dave Thomas

I never heard of this dingbat Flew before he “converted”. But he is a dingbat. This statement

he considers both the Christian God and the Islamic God to be “omnipotent Oriental despots—cosmic Saddam Husseins.”

proves it.

Also, Charles Colson is a certifiable moron drunk on his religious beliefs and ready to dissemble to please his deity and this statement

A book containing factual statements that no human knew about at the time of writing seems to argue that the authors must have had coaching from the Creator.

and this statement

The evidence is there for all who will look, as his one-time adversary C. S. Lewis discovered, and as more and more thinking intellectuals are discovering today.

proves that my characterization is accurate.

Colson and any other Johnsonite Christians are formally invited to defend their tired script here in person, of course.

Professor Flew is no dingbat; his essay, “Theology and Falsification,” has been extremely influential and often reprinted. That Great White Wonder has never heard of him reflects more on Mr. Wonder than on Professor Flew.

Mr. Colson’s essay is out of date. Professor Flew has admitted that he was misled by Mr. Schroeder into thinking that the Biblical account of the creation (the account in Genesis 1, not the other account in Genesis 2) paralleled the scientific account; it does not. He further admitted to Mr. Carrier that he had made a fool of himself and had not checked any of Mr. Schroeder’s claims. Finally, he noted that, at 81, he was too old to engage in a major controversy. The clear implication is that his supposed conversion has not been well thought through. Unlike Mr. Thomas’s creationist, who implies that he is impervious to argument, I would at least have paid attention to a cogent discussion by as well respected a philosopher as Professor Flew.

Finally, Professor Flew described his conversion as a “modest defection” from his previous atheism. At most, Professor Flew seems to consider the possibility of a Demiurge who created the world and then left it alone, not a personal god.

Anyone who thinks that he “is just a step or two away from the kingdom” must be willfully self-deluding, at best.

Matt writes

That Great White Wonder has never heard of him reflects more on Mr. Wonder than on Professor Flew.

Well, I’ve heard of him now. Am I the only here who never flipped through the true Flew but who is through with the new Flew?

In any event, I appreciate the info. I hope he lives long enough to change his mind again.

Flew’s Flawed Science by Victor Stenger For Free Inquiry

Antony Flew in 2004 simply arrived at the same tentative conclusion that I arrived at 15 years ago. The tentative conclusion is that the well observed and duly documented cellular machinery employed by living things is too complex to have come about through accidental happenstance.

This does not speak to an omnipotent God, to the bible, to revelation, to an afterlife, or to any religion at all. It speaks to common sense and sound reasoning. Thus Antony is not converted to a religion or even really to deism. He’s converted to pragmatism.

All I have to say to Antony is “What took you so long?”. LOL!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on January 9, 2005 1:30 PM.

The Tangled Bank is coming back! was the previous entry in this blog.

Richard Colling: New paradigm needed: More intelligent ‘intelligent design’ is the next entry in this blog.

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