Intelligent Design

Antony Flew, God and the Evidence: A review of There Is a God

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On December 9, 2004, an Associated Press story story went out on the wires, “Famous Atheist Now Believes in God: One of World’s Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less, Based on Scientific Evidence.”

More? Or less? As it turns out, neither. He believes in God simply on the scientific evidence. Many might consider that thin gruel, but he is entitled to cite the evidence in his defense. And there is a lot of it.

Go here for more:

Introduction: Antony Flew, God, and the Evidence: A review of There IS a God
Part One: Antony Flew sought to make the best case for atheism

There were, of course, many other 20th century atheist thinkers. But Varghese argues that thinkers like Ayer, Sartre, Camus, Heidegger, Rorty, and Derrida differed from Flew in that they offered systems of thought, one of whose byproducts was atheism.

Essentially, they were saying, my system is right – oh, and by the way, there’s no God. But that means that you must buy into the system to get the atheism. And if you come to doubt the system, why believe the atheism?

Part Two: Following the argument wherever it leads

Recounting his adventures in philosophy, Flew provides an answer to a question that had long puzzled me: Where did the intelligent design theorists get their slogan, “Follow the evidence wherever it leads!” It seems to have originated in Plato’s account of Socrates’ command in The Republic, to “Follow the argument wherever it leads.” (p. 22) This exhortation formed the basis of the Oxford Socratic Club, of which Christian apologist C.S. Lewis was president (1942-1954) and of which Flew was a member – and a leading exponent of the principle. Somehow (at least by p. 42), this transmutes to “following the evidence wherever it may lead.”

Part Three: Rediscovering the God of the Philosophers

Flew, one begins to realize, is an old-fashioned thinker who assumes at the outset the possibility of the moral life as a distinct human quality. He is not seeking to ground it in the squabbles of ancestral primates or the mindless hum of genes – let alone demonstrate that it doesn’t exist. In other words, an old-fashioned atheist like Flew thought that you could be moral without God. Many new atheists think that there is no “you” and there is no “moral”, never mind that there is no “God.”

Part Four: Einstein’s God and Antony Flew

While Einstein is often associated with the philosopher Spinoza, for whom God and nature were synonymous, Flew points out that Einstein knew little of Spinoza’s work and admitted as much (p. 98). True, he did not believe in a personal God and displayed little interest in organized religion, but he did think that the pursuit of science leads to the recognition of a “superior mind”, and “illimitable superior spirit”, or “superior reasoning force” (p. 101). And that is certainly enough to remove Einstein from the catalogue of celebrated materialist atheists.

42 Replies to “Antony Flew, God and the Evidence: A review of There Is a God

  1. 1
    bevets says:

    I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena. It has been an exercise in what is traditionally called natural theology. It has had no connection with any of the revealed religions. Nor did I claim to have had any personal experience of God or any experience that may be called supernatural or miraculous. In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason not of faith. ~ Antony Flew

  2. 2
    nullasalus says:

    Sounds similar to my experience, except for the part about revealed religions. I think that may be a bitter pill for some to swallow – deism is a tough nut to crack, because it has all the particulars of specific faith removed. And as Flew points out, he can assert his belief without reference to the supernatural.

    I say this as a catholic, so obviously I have disagreements with Flew. But coming to know God through reason is possible, always has been. Glad to see such a prominent example of this.

  3. 3
    Janice says:

    What I don’t properly understand is how someone of Flew’s intelligence can come to the conclusion that there exists an, “illimitable superior spirit,” and then just leave the quest there. It just seems wilfully stupid. But maybe that’s what the problem is; one of the will. He exercised it for 65 odd years in not believing in God and now, maybe, he’s exercising it in not believing that God can be known. For his sake I hope not.

    My own discovery of the Divine also proceeded, initially, on a purely natural level. Learning that goo-to-you evolution is bunkum turned me from an agnostic to a deist. But I was quite young at the time (28) and wanted to know, it being the case that God exists, how I should live the rest of my life. That meant discovering who God is (in order to discover what His rules are) and that meant examining the various books in which God is supposed to have revealed Himself to us. After all, wouldn’t an, “illimitable superior spirit,” wish to be known by those who can, in some measure, know him? But maybe Flew is too old and too successful to be worried about how to live the rest of his life.

    Not being a clever philosopher I used the state of the world as my guide. Where in the world are most people best treated? What is the dominant religion there? And you can’t get away from it. Christianity has done best.

    So I started off by reading the Bible and by the time I’d got to Revelation 3:20 (“Behold, I stand at the door and knock …”) I knew it was true. The big question was whether I could give up my own will and submit to His. I once told a pastor how hard it was to give up being the sovereign of my own life. It felt like jumping off a cliff into a bottomless abyss; completely out of control. He said, “Yes. It’s hard to die.”

    Anyway, I took the jump, and only because the alternative seemed insane. That’s when the supernatural thing happened. After, not before. The lights went on. Once I was blind. Now I see.

    I know this is just my story and every other Christian has their own. Nevertheless, my story is true. Others’ stories may be different but they’re not inconsistent.

    Flew can have his 65 years of getting to be a famous philosopher. I’ve had nearly 30 years of getting to know and, finally, to love the Lord. If Flew will not go, however haltingly, over the last hurdle and submit to God, the great “I AM”, rather than merely recognising His existence then I will feel sorry for him. But not more sorry than for all the people who, heeding his earlier teachings, have gone the same way.

  4. 4
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    Janice –

    Well said.

    I’ve read Flew’s book and didn’t seen any reason in it for a late rather than early conversion — the essential facts were available to him all along. The explanation, as you suggest, is that these things involve the will more than the intellect. Not to forget an Act of God: even will can’t make a blind man see.

    If Flew has truly experienced regeneration, he’ll seek further (John 6:37). But spiritually, he’s a baby — in spite of his extensive education and experience. Don’t expect too much too soon!

  5. 5
    O'Leary says:

    Janice, my impression from reading Flew’s work then and now is that he will not go anywhere that he is not led by what he takes to be the best arguments and evidence.

    He belongs to an older, more rigorous tradition that did not look to settle these matters through an ecstatic experience, but through reason and evidence alone.

    Hence, even now, he does not believe that he will survive death. If fear had led him to a conversion experience, I would hardly be surprised to learn that he had suddenly developed such a conviction … but no. He believes, on the evidence, something that will shortly be of no personal use to him – that there is a mind behind the universe.

    In fairness to his earlier “teachings”, I found them a great help in clarifying one’s thoughts. I would be surprised to learn that he literally led many astray.

  6. 6
    ari-freedom says:

    Flew cannot have faith in any religion. Those are the rules. If he had faith in anything that would imply that his conversion to theism was not totally due to reason.

  7. 7
    Janice says:


    He belongs to an older, more rigorous tradition that did not look to settle these matters through an ecstatic experience, but through reason and evidence alone.

    All I can say is that my own experience wasn’t ecstatic, either before or after. It was reason and evidence that took me to the point of submission. Maybe not reason and evidence that would suit a person like Flew but reason and evidence nonetheless. What happened after I submitted was simply more evidence.

    But maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean by “ecstatic”. I can assure you that I saw no angels or visions, nor heard heavenly choirs. I didn’t start yammering in unknown tongues – not then or since. It was just that the lights went on – afterwards, not before.

    I don’t have any animosity towards Flew and I’d also be surprised to learn that he, all by himself, led many others astray. It’s not as though millions of people all over the world have been hanging on his every word. But it’s not just up to him, is it? He taught the people who taught the others who taught the hundreds and thousands and millions. Whether he survives death is not up to me and I don’t have the capacity to judge that.

    But there is this: Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

    God does what He does. He owns everything and will do with what He owns whatever He wishes. Good! He knows far better than I do what is the proper thing to do.

    I can see His profligacy in my own life. He is not concerned about what it cost, in worldly terms, either to bring me to Him or to use me now. A man died and left a widow and an orphaned baby. He owns all their lives and can do with them what He will. I have spent nearly a decade studying at university but my only job is voluntary and very part-time. I teach Scripture to kids aged about 10 or 11. He can do with me what He will.

    That Flew is ready now to say that he believes in an, “illimitable superior spirit,” is good. But sixty five years of messing about with philosphical reasons and evidences are what in the face of eternity? Flew can say what he wants. God will say what He wants and He will use Flew for His purposes. That is fine by me. He will do with Flew what He wants to do. Thank goodness those decisions are not up to me.

  8. 8
    russ says:

    Flew cannot have faith in any religion. Those are the rules. If he had faith in anything that would imply that his conversion to theism was not totally due to reason.

    So then, he has faith in reason, rather than faith in revelation. Didn’t C.S. Lewis apply reason to what he read in revelation to come to God? I don’t know much about philosophy, (wish I did) but it would seem to me that you have to apply reason to a set of facts in order for it to be of any value. So what will Flew let in as fact? Scientific discoveries? Human experience? Historical documents?

  9. 9
    tribune7 says:

    I don’t think it fair to call St. Thomas an agnostic but there was a period of a week or so that he distinctly did not believe in the Resurrection — despite the witnessing of Peter and Mary.

    Some people just need a higher standard to accept something. The thing is when the standard one demands is fulfilled is the truth accepted with joy or denied due to the cost it imposes — which then reveals the seeker to be a hypocrite and fraud.

  10. 10
    toc says:

    ari-freedom said:
    Flew cannot have faith in any religion. Those are the rules. If he had faith in anything that would imply that his conversion to theism was not totally due to reason.

    This is an arbitrary rule. Faith (Trust, more appropriately used) is exercised always, even in “reason.” This is a metaphysical presupposition that reason is reliable.

    I am not disagreeing with your statement. But to clarify, religious faith is not necessarily blind. Evidence exists to move beyond evidences. Empiricism can never be fully realized because phenomenon can never be exhaustively observed. There exists a stopping point, where “belief” is reasonable.

  11. 11
    BarryA says:

    Pascal again: “The heart has reasons that reason does not know.”

  12. 12
    Rude says:

    I read Flew’s book and was intrigued and enjoyed every moment of it—so I’m rather taken aback by the somewhat negative reception we see here. I guess there is, isn’t there? a stream in Christendom that sees unbelievers as lost souls with the real world situation suggesting that the vast majority of humankind is headed straight toward eternal damnation and terrifying torment. This traditional view is not very popular in today’s secular, democratic West—for obvious reasons. But then maybe it’s not all secular left materialism that revolts against this view of the Deity. When some years back I read Sheldon Glashow’s The Charm of Physics, where he repeatedly asserts that no scientist ever discovered anything who did not somehow just know deep in his bones, all evidence to the contrary, that things are good, I wondered whether this might also apply to religion—even world history and current events. Things can be pretty awful, evil might predominate on a grand scale, but nevertheless maybe the Creator was clever enough to have set things up such that free wills will learn some bitter lessons such that in the end things will be good in the overall. Seven times in Genesis 1 God declares that things are good—the seventh time that they are very good. And just about all the ancients—Christian and Jewish—believed Genesis not just history but also prophecy.

    The New Testament too, as in John 6:44, indicates that ignorance may not always be the individual’s fault, and that the future looks better than the past (Rev 7:17; 21:4, thus reflecting Isaiah 25:8).

    Anthony Flew’s is an inspiring story. He has survived into old age, emerged from the utterly dominant materialism of his age having learned something. The world is full of deception, but people as a whole are not incorrigibly evil. I know there a doctrine of original sin that might dispute what I say, but in contrast to those who really are incorribly evil—and there are some—most folks just don’t fit into that category—even those who disagree with me on most everything!

    Having an optimistic, upbeat approach should not detract from the consternation and sorrow we should feel in the face the evil that predominates, for if we all hide our heads in the sand then the evil has served no purpose. On the other hand, a good understanding of the grand teleology of it all may be available only to those of a positive heart.

    Why not rejoice in the story of one Anthony Flew?

  13. 13
    O'Leary says:

    Janice and all, my comment on ecstatic experience is not intended as a disparagement.

    Quite the contrary, Mario Beauregard and I wrote a book whose very heart is an examination of the evidence for that category of experience (The Spiritual Brain, Harper One, 2007).

    Our conclusion is that the available evidence suggests that mystics do contact a power outside themselves.

    However, the mystic (ecstatic experience) and the philosopher (reason and evidence from nature) agree that they pursue separate projects by different means.

    As a philosopher, Flew is determined to proceed by philosophy. You may think that he does not go fast enough or that he does not go in the right direction, but he goes under his own steam in the way he has done all his life.

    Incidentally, I am still hearing from persons seeking to prove that Flew is senile and does not know what he thinks.

    I find that a source of mirth.

    If, come tomorrow, Antony Flew informs the world that he realizes that he is an atheist after all and that Christian friends were merely manipulating him, and he has since foresworn those friends – will those same people say, “No, this cannot be believed! He is senile and had better stay with his new Christian friends, who will, after all, look after him!”?

    My instinct is that we will not get a chance to test that, but it would be most interesting if we did …

  14. 14
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    I agree with toc. Faith is that which allows us to act on those ubiquitous frontiers where logic fails. Faith in reason, for example, enables us to reason.

    In everything, everyday, the sane man gathers what evidence he can and then leaps into the unknown and unknowable future. It’s unavoidable. We believe our chairs will support us, and that our food has not been poisoned — we do not know.

    The Apostle said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And, further, that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” I humbly elaborate: “Without faith it is impossible to get out of bed in the morning.”

  15. 15
    Rude says:

    Faith—yes—and wisdom emerges from both the positive (Deut 4:5-8; 31:6) and negative (Psalms 111:10; Prov 1:7; 9:10) aspects of it.

    It’s what the scientist needs to get started and what succeeds after Popperian refutation has failed. Although they’re probably related, faith and the mystical experience are not quite the same thing. The very fact that disperate zealots exude faith in contradictory propositions means that faith not built on evidence is suspect. And if not all spirits are benevolent then maybe not all mystical experiences are good.

    What the materialist forgets is that science is built on evidence and faith, and what many religious folks miss—especially the “theistic evolutionists”—is the very same truism.

  16. 16

    Mrs. O’Leary,

    you have a firecracker mind. I have your book The Spiritual Brain and intend to start it soon. I read Flew’s book and find the ascriptions of senility by his detractors revealing of their bankruptcy, especially when it comes from the mouths of their leaders like Dawkins. I reviewed this book as well and posted my comments on the boards ( and plan to link there to your review. I especially found interesting your observation of the parallel of the decline of the atheist mind with the decline of the evangelical mind. I noted how Varghese compared the New Atheists with the Logical Positivists and argued that they are in some ways a reversion to Logical Positivism ignorant of the developments that occurred since then (such as Ayer’s later rejection of his own arguments) and wonder if you might comment on further on whether you see a strong parallel or you think the “New Atheists” are different than the Logical Positivists, despite the later also using silencing tactics.

    Pax Christi,

  17. 17
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    Rude –

    Well said.

  18. 18
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    Rude says,

    “What the materialist forgets is that science is built on evidence and faith, and what many religious folks miss—especially the “theistic evolutionists”—is the very same truism.”

    Could you elaborate a bit on the “theistic evolutionist” part of that statement?

  19. 19
    Rude says:

    Gerry Rzeppa,

    The “theistic evolutionists” I’ve encountered always deny the Deity any fingerprints in the physical cosmos—at least this side of the Big Bang. They’re strong demarcationists—evidence is for “science” (whatever that is) and faith is for religion (whatever that is), and they always invoke the “God of the gaps” falacy.

    For them the Deity manifests himself subjectively—never objectively.

    But I should qualify that here I do not include those who subscribe to an old cosmos and evolution—evolution in the sense that evolution is evidence—at least in technology (the automobile, the airplane) it always points to design.

  20. 20
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    Rude –


    Where do believers in a “young” cosmos, who see God as an Author or Artist creating a work with all the unavoidable appearances of age, fall in your mind?

  21. 21
    ari-freedom says:


    that’s not my rule but his rule. This may not be intentional on his part but he is sacrificing a spiritual life and the consequence is that theists can now claim that a significant basis of their faith can be backed up by pure reason.
    We have to learn to appreciate what his loss gives us.

  22. 22
    ari-freedom says:

    Rude, I’m Jewish and that’s why I don’t see Flew as an unbeliever. According to Judaism, converts are discouraged (see the story of Ruth).

    Flew is a moral person who believes in one G-d and from our perspective it is far better for a person to be “just” than than try to do something that he is not obligated and not ready for. If only there were more people like him in this world…

    note: there is no “good” in the 2nd day.

  23. 23
    toc says:

    I read Flew’s (and Varghese’s) book upon its release. I believe you are right that he had to step away, so to speak, from an existential commitment toward any particular religion due to his philosophical method. Moreover, reason in the sense you mentioned could only take him to Aristotle’s first cause, an honest place to stop.

    My point in post # 10 was to clarify that belief, or faith, stated in the pejorative sense as is so often the case, is thought to be some mindless and fideistic leap. Trust, in the sense I meant it in the post, is not so far removed from reason. There are evidences from sources other than the anatomy of the cell and cosmology.

    We theists can hitch a ride from his credible argument, but “faith,” as a belief system is quite a distance from affirming a creator. Yet, he is looking at those “other” evidences, as implicated from N.T. Wright’s essay in the appendix.

  24. 24
    ari-freedom says:

    Trust isn’t mindless but it also requires a heart. He did not believe in using his heart as a factor before and he is being consistent.

  25. 25
    Timaeus says:

    To ari-freedom (#21) re your response to rude (#12):

    Yes, it’s true that there is no statement “God saw that it was good” on the second day — at least, not in the Hebrew text (though it’s there in the Greek of the Septuagint). However, rude’s count of a total of seven is still correct, once on the first, fourth and fifth days, and twice each on the third and sixth days. Even though there are only six days of creation, the text presents us with seven “goods”. The appearance of certain key words in multiples of seven is a characteristic feature of the story in Genesis 1.1-2.4a.

  26. 26
    ari-freedom says:

    That’s correct…the actual count is 7 however the 7th day is blessed and as for Mondays…what can I say?

  27. 27
    nullasalus says:


    “We theists can hitch a ride from his credible argument, but “faith,” as a belief system is quite a distance from affirming a creator.”

    I agree. But I also think that Flew’s example (and others) provides theists with an important method for making their case: Even if we affirm a certain deity and a certain faith, it would do well to start arguing from a deistic perspective first. Establishing the rationale for an agent behind creation, even one as basic as what Flew depicts, is only one step. But it, I think, would gain far more traction in dialogue with people who want to know a rational basis for any deity at all.

  28. 28
    Rude says:

    Gerry Rzeppa in 20:

    “Where do believers in a ‘young’ cosmos, who see God as an Author or Artist creating a work with all the unavoidable appearances of age, fall in your mind?”

    I guess they’re the classic “creationists” who, unlike ID (and unlike Anthony Flew, by the way), start with the Book and attempt to fit the facts of the world into their understanding of the same. ID, as often reiterated here, tries to follow the facts and the argument wherever it leads. Quite a number of believing Christians and Orthodox Jews opt for a Young Earth based on their understanding of Genesis—which is fine by me—though personally I prefer the ID approach and I’m not so sure that Genesis requires a Young Earth.

    Ari-Freedom in 22,

    I’m with you on Flew and the Jewish approach to the world, but as for Monday that’s a puzzle … has anyone ever considered the interpretation of Genesis, as in the Ramban to Gen 2:3, where Monday equals the millennium of Noah? Could that in some way explain the lack of a proclamation of good on that day?

    Remember how that God said to Moses (Exodus 32:10), “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” Moses would have none of it and through his pleading a whole nation was saved. When it comes to Noah we read (Gen 6:7-8), “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

    Did Noah go to bat for his generation? Evidently not the way Moses did

  29. 29
    toc says:

    Atheism often seem to recoil from this. The usual argument “who caused God” seems to beg the question. At least with a Deistic starting point, all effects must have a cause. Aristotle’s first cause cannot be an effect and also a First Cause. The premise of the question violates the law of non-contradiction.

    I agree with your point of view.

  30. 30
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    toc –

    You seem to be suggesting a young earth point of view can only arise from reading Genesis. But isn’t this the most natural view for authors and artists, programmers, engineers and almost every other creative individual who is untainted by evolutionary doctrine?

    In my latest effort as an author, for example, I created a ten year-old boy with all the apparent attributes of his age, but with no actual history.

    As a painter, I often render the flowers – including their shadows – before I go to work on the sun.

    As a programmer, I can write a self-replicating “chicken” program that lays “eggs” which in turn become chickens, some days later, on other computers; and though I can make the chicken OR the egg come first, I really see both as an integrated whole, outside of time.

    And as an engineer, I’m well aware that most things are not constructed in a strict, bottom-up sequence. The wheels on my car, for example, were added rather late in the assembly process.

    I sometimes wonder if bottom-up, evolutionary thinking hasn’t permeated our outlook more than we know…

  31. 31
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    Sorry, folks. #30 should be addressed to Rude.

    Why is there no edit on this thing?

  32. 32
    ari-freedom says:

    28 we have several reasons
    1) there was division on that day and it is meant to teach us that even a necessary division can’t be called good
    2) the work on the 2nd day was incomplete. It was completed on the 3rd day which is why ‘good’ is stated twice
    3) the water would be used later on to destroy mankind in the flood of Noah.

  33. 33
    Janice says:


    Completely O/T but thought you might be interested.

    The New England Journal of Medicine has a short free full text article published today and titled Seeking God in the Brain — Efforts to Localize Higher Brain Functions by a fellow named Snyder who is a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins.

    He references Collins, Linden and Trimble but not Beauregard.

    Here is the last bit of his conclusion:

    as imaging technology and associated cognitive testing become ever more sophisticated, we may be able to discriminate ways in which religious and creative sensibilities relate to one another and to brain areas that mediate emotions that are deranged in psychiatric illness. Whether any of these advances will provide the answer to the cerebral basis of religion, if one exists, is anybody’s guess.

  34. 34
    ari-freedom says:

    I wonder if they are willing to research whether there is a cerebral basis for believing in evolution.

  35. 35
    tdean says:

    Denyse wrote: “Incidentally, I am still hearing from persons seeking to prove that Flew is senile and does not know what he thinks.

    I find that a source of mirth.”

    I really think you really need to read Richard Carrier’s commentary on Flew (

    Carrier had personal correspondence with Flew, as did Oppenheimer from the NY Times (and apparently spent two days with him in person).

    It may still be true that Flew is no longer an atheist, but I think there is good reason to think that Flew’s mental acuity is not what it was, and that indeed he is suffering from some form of aphasia. I’ve also seen some recent videos of Flew too and they are both sad and alarming; one does not need to be a mental health expert to realize something isn’t right there.

    This doesn’t necessarily detract from the book, but I think it is important to recognize the limits of Flew’s current mental state and that this is reflected in the book.

  36. 36
    tdean says:

    Oh what a surprise, my comment didn’t get posted, again!

    I posted something that
    a) Tried to make a reasonable intelligent point (about the possibility that there is evidence for Flew being senile)

    b) Was not derogatory or ad hominem
    c) Contained no profanity

    Does it ever occur to you that somebody like myself might just actually be a little open-minded to ID in that we are motivated to post comments? Yet, it seems very few critical (or mildly critical) posts ever get through the filter. Contrast this with any number of atheists blogs and forums where freedom of speech is tolerated and encouraged.

    It’s hard to take the ID Community seriously when they are essentially censoring opposing views. Is it any wonder that ID is accused of being more of a propaganda endeavor than real science? Ironic really, given all the complaining that IDers make about being ‘expelled’ etc.

  37. 37
    Patrick says:


    The spam filter is automated. Moderators are not. Be patient; your comment was stuck along with several other long-time UD contributers.

    I edited the timestamp so your comments are the “newest”.

  38. 38
    tdean says:

    Thank you Patrick! It’s nice to see that different views are welcome – I’ve been trying for a long time and none of my posts were ever accepted – hence my frustration.

  39. 39
    russ says:

    Oh what a surprise, my comment didn’t get posted, again!

    My comments have been blocked plenty of times by the Masters of the Borg Collective (inside joke for John Kwok fans). I don’t take it personally, cause I know its a computer thing.

  40. 40
    O'Leary says:

    Antony Flew, I am told, suffers from nominal aphasia, as do a number of elderly persons I am close to, whose judgment I justifiably respect. They too tire easily and would not appear at their best under intense grilling.

    Go here for an explanation of nominal aphasia:

    It is surprising how little NA affects judgment, though it does slow down conversations and make some interactions (especially hostile ones, I suspect) tedious and unsatisfactory.

    The persons camping out on Flew’s life and grilling him to show that he can’t really have abandoned atheism for sound reasons – and reporting any instance of old-age troubles as their evidence – should be seen for what they are.

    As I said earlier, if he returned to their fold, I am sure they would be singing a different tune.

    Given what they have revealed about themselves in this episode, I should think he knows all he needs to know about them, and – for his own welfare – I hope he will never go back to them. But he is obviously a man who follows his reasonable convictions and he will do as he thinks right.

  41. 41
    rockyr says:

    Einstein is portrayed as a universal genius, but this is a serious mistake. I read several Einstein biographies, I read his works, with emphasis especially on those that address science, philosophy and religion, etc. I don’t want to take anything away from his scientific genius, (his knowledge, skill and ability to think and imagine in terms of mathematics and physics), but the rest of Einstein’s thinking is either rather average (socialism, pacifism, politics) or outright vague, confused and shallow, especially his philosophy and religion.

    Re: “Part Four: Einstein’s God… True, he did not believe in a personal God and displayed little interest in organized religion, but he did think that the pursuit of science leads to the recognition of a “superior mind”…”

    Many modern scientific giants and genii exhibit similar weakness when it comes to philosophy, theology and religion. This starts with their insufficient imagination of the spiritual domain, its function, and purpose, and how it reflects back on the meaning of what it means to be “human”, next the whole things is aggravated by their poor understanding of the basics of logic and philosophy, which is a precursor to solid theology. And this applies to many professional philosophers, like Flew.

    Re, post 13: “As a philosopher, Flew is determined to proceed by philosophy. You may think that he does not go fast enough or that he does not go in the right direction, but he goes under his own steam in the way he has done all his life.”

    Really, there are very few real thinkers, including professional philosophers, who can do that and bring their reasoning to a satisfactory conclusion. As St. Paul says, even the best philosophy alone is not sufficient and philosophy can be used to deceive. Only a handful of people come to mind who had such powerful ability to perceive phenomena and reason correctly, and who thus possessed the best humanly attainable totality of knowledge and experience. In this respect, Aristotle, one these real scientific and thinking giants, is head and shoulders above any struggling modern philosopher or scientist, (and without the Jewish and Christian revelations he was in a situation comparable to a modern agnostic who rejects these revelations), yet even he was unable to bring his philosophy to a truly satisfactory conclusion.

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    nullasalus says:

    I wasn’t all that impressed with Carrier’s blog entry, as it mostly centered around him frantically insisting he thinks the arguments are all bad, he wrote Flew a long letter with a lot of questions, his name wasn’t mentioned once in the book and you better not call him a nobody (Who did? He’s a known, very animated atheist and author.)

    Among other things, the fact that he refers to Flew’s book as a ‘scholarly work’ when neither Flew nor Varghese nor anyone else has presented it as such (It’s portrayed as a story, a ‘last will and testament’, an account of decision – not exhaustive metaphysics) indicates he’s trying to stretch the situation beyond its proportion.

    At the end of the day, Flew’s had this position for years now, he’s admitted to Varghese’s heavy assistance with the book, he’s elderly, and the book centers around a personal story and views more than anything else. All this plus a recognition from even Oppenheimer that Flew’s atheism had a vastly different grounding and cultural relation compared to the modern. Everyone who could respond to the accusations about Flew, has. Nothing has changed, it seems like nothing will change. And it’s important to remember, alongside accusations the Christians have manipulated Flew – whenever a former atheist writes a book about converting to a belief in the divine, the attacks from the activist wing do start to pour in regardless of who the person is. Francis Collins’ book (which was not a scholarly work but a story plus views – rather similar to Flew when you think about it) received pretty much every criticism Flew’s did, minus ‘manipulation’.

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