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Flew wins Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth — Who said ID doesn’t pay?!

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Press release issued today from Biola University:

Former Atheist Receives Award From Intelligent Design Community
29 March 2006

La Mirada, Calif. — British philosopher Antony Flew, once considered the most prominent defender of atheism in the English-speaking world, will accept the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth on May 11 from Biola University, a Christian university in Southern California.

Flew, 83, argued in books such as God and Philosophy (1966) and The Presumption of Atheism (1984) that one should presuppose atheism until evidence for God proves otherwise. Then, in 2004, the Oxford-educated philosopher stunned the intellectual world by relinquishing his long-held atheism, claiming that the natural sciences supplied evidence for the existence of a designing intelligence. Flew said that he simply “had to go where the evidence leads.”

The Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth was given to Flew for his lifelong commitment to free and open inquiry and to standing fast against intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression. Flew drew scorn from skeptics following his shift in views. When informed that he was this year’s award winner, he remarked, “In light of my work and publications in this area and the criticism I’ve received for changing my position, I appreciate receiving this award.”

Biola University established the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth in 2004 to honor legal scholar and Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson, who was the award’s first recipient. The award recognizes Johnson’s pivotal role in advancing our understanding of design in the universe by opening up informed dissent to Darwinian and materialistic theories of evolution. Flew is the second recipient of this award, which will be presented on May 11 at Biola University through the university’s Masters of Arts in Science and Religion (MASR) program.

Educated at Oxford following World War II, Flew frequented the weekly meetings of Christian scholar C. S. Lewis’s Socratic Club. Unpersuaded by Lewis’s apologetic and becoming an outspoken defender of atheism, Flew nonetheless advocated the intellectual freedom of scholars of all stripes to challenge reigning orthodoxies and to ask forbidden questions.

Flew received the Oxford University Prize in Philosophy in 1947. He was a lecturer in philosophy at Christ Church, Oxford from 1949 to 1950, followed by four years as a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, and 20 years as professor of philosophy at the University of Keele. Between 1973 and 1983 he was professor of philosophy at the University of Reading. Upon his retirement he took half-time posts from 1983 to 1985 at York University, Toronto and from 1986 to 1991 at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.


"Yeah, Jimbo! He wanted Richard “blue monkeys flying out my butt*” Carrier, the modern Aristotle**, to trash some articles*** from J. P. Holding. Too bad." Haha I can't believe I argued with that guy for months. I got a "post of the day" by ripping apart Carrier's number manipulation the day that article came out. ;) jasonng
As fate would have it, I was just reading Flew's article in Think magazine this morning (ordered it online about six months ago). I must say that I was completely confused by it, and am glad to know that I'm not the only one. I would disagree with Carrier's take on Flew's "putative" conversion. My sense--I'm going to reread the article once I post--is that Flew is trying to say that he wasn't ever a 'true' 'atheist'--kind of what Carrier was saying, Flew was an "atheist" as one might be "apolitical." It sounds like Flew is saying that there NOW appears to be 'evidence' suggesting that 'God' exists, as in a 'Creator', and so he sees no inconsistency with that 'evidence' now presenting itself and his, now, "putative" conversion. In other words, I think Flew was saying, "Well, I said evidence was lacking; and said why should I believe in God if there is no evidence. Now there is evidence, and, OF COURSE, I now am beginning to 'believe' in a God." If Flew has a "God", however, it's the "God" of Deism, and not even the "God" of Aristotle. Nonetheless, I agree with an earlier comment that his acceptance of the award is of some significance. PaV
I am a former "intellectual" atheist as well. Perhaps there is a trend. Patrick Glynn, a Harvard Ph.D. and former atheist, thinks so. In his book, God: The Evidence -- The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World, he predicts that we are entering a postsecular era, because so much of the evidence, gleaned from so many disparate fields of study, is pointing away from a purely materialistic interpretation of life. The last chapter of the book, Reason and Spirit, is one of the best essays on the subject I have read, and is worth the price of admission alone. GilDodgen

Having read Flew's "God and Philospohy" I must admit that it read to me like he had a change of change of heart. Even at his most theistic moment he wouldn't have been considered more than a diest. He must be suffering from a change of change of change of heart. I wonder what C. S. Lewis, looking down from his cloud and harp is thinking about his good friend Dr. Flew.

DaveScot, I read that article at the SecWeb and wondered myself if it was really true. I have never heard a comment from Flew in the public forum that either confirms or denies what it says. Guess we know it's a lie now. Another feather in the cap of the 'infidels'. Lurker
With all the discussion of Flew's change of change of heart (which most recently seems to leave him as a deist) I think his acceptance of this award is telling. I'll be waiting to hear his speech before I use him as an example, however. Charlie
Yeah, Jimbo! He wanted Richard "blue monkeys flying out my butt*" Carrier, the modern Aristotle**, to trash some articles*** from J. P. Holding. Too bad. * http://www.answeringinfidels.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=86 ** http://www.answeringinfidels.com/content/view/99/48/ *** http://www.tektonics.org/lp/nowayjose_CC2.html Marcos
Speaking of Carrier, I remember debating someone on a forum who commissioned (read: paid thousands of dollars) him to write this: http://www.columbia.edu/~rcc20/christianity/index.html Of particular interest to me was section 18, whose thousands of words can be summarized as "I don't know, you don't know and the Bible can't be right, so I'll just throw out a bunch of hypothetical numbers". Is he the kind of person we're up against? jasonng
Interesting. The usual suspects had been saying that Flew's "conversion" wasn't really a conversion and he'd retracted it. This would seem to indicate he didn't retract it at all. Here's the synopsis from the definitive usual suspect, Richard Carrier, with a March 2006 update. I think Carrier is now trying to say that Flew is senile but Carrier is so mealymouthed about it it's hard to tell for sure. Can you spell "prevarication", Richard? I knew you could. http://www.secweb.org/index.aspx?action=viewAsset&id=369 DaveScot

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