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.


John Bergsma said...

Clarification: According to press accounts, it was in 2004 that Flew came to believe in God's existence, and in 2007 on the subject was first published, although the American edition (apparently) didn't appear until the following year (which is when the news finally reached me).

Sister Mary Agnes said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. I pray that he has discovered his Designer is his Father also.

edwinv1230 said...

Who among thinkers (and many of them are Christian believers) can forget the name of this former notorious atheist-turned-deist-turned-theist Anthony Flew?

By thinkers I mean those, who like Flew, listen to Socrates' advice to "follow the argument where it leads." And where did the argument lead Flew except to the realization that there must be a God out there who is responsible for the intrinsic design of the universe, whom philosophers call as the First Cause.

My only frustration is that Flew did not live longer enough to finally follow the argument beyond the Aristotelian limit, w/c, I believe, basically runs short of the full import of the argument, simply because he did not give way to the argument put forth by divine revelation sufficiently recorded in the pages of Holy Scripture. Nonetheless, by following the argument, at least to a certain limit, he only proved himself to be far better off than than most of his former colleagues in the godless atheist society - including the great Bertrand Russell and other atheists of lesser lights like the obscurantists Richard Dawkins and Samuel Harris.

Edwin Vargas
Christian & Postmodern Theology Examiner at Examiner.com

John Bergsma said...

Great comment by Vargas. I think Flew ought to have been able to realize that intelligence is an attribute of persons, and therefore the intelligence he posited behind the universe (his deistic god) also had to be a person; therefore the universe is, at its ground, personal rather than impersonal. From there, it's a short step to Judaeo-Christian theism.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

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