Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Quote: Antony Flew on Belief

"I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence. I believe that this universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science."

- Antony Flew, There is a God, (Kindle:1087)


Rosa Rubicondior said...

I would have been surprised to see you quoting from a book written in Flew's name by two Christian fundamentalists when Flew was practically senile, but I know how short you must be of honest quotations which support you.

The question though is why you believe you need to use dishonest tactics to trick people with. Is it because you know honesty doesn't work?

And that begs the next question: why are you trying to trick people in the first place? What's in it for you?

Anonymous said...

Rosa - not to pick on you, but you really haven't given us any reason to take your assertions seriously. You imply: a book is untrustworthy if is a collaboration, that the collaborators are part of an unreliable group called "Christian Fundamentalists," that Mr. Flew was "practically senile" when the book was written, that other supporting material for theism is in short supply, that this blog is dishonest, prone to trickery and mistrustful of truth. You end up with a suggestion that the poster had mercenary motives.

I would welcome another comment from you that gave us some data or reason to support your claims/suggestions. Otherwise you could have saved yourself a lot of time by simply saying "eww, I don't like this and you shouldn't either."

Russell said...


The question though is why you believe you need to use dishonest tactics to trick people with. Is it because you know honesty doesn't work?

So you think this blog is trying to trick people by posting a legitimate quote? Where is your evidence that Flew was senile? Was is simply because he left atheism and you don't have an answer for it? Without any proof, it sounds you are the one being dishonest.

And that begs the next question: why are you trying to trick people in the first place? What's in it for you?

Again, please provide some evidence for this supposed "trick". Also, I want to know what you think was in it for Flew? If you have no reason to say he was senile, then why do you think he made this conversion?

Your blog has the following in the "about me" section: "A Centre-left atheist humanist with a rational view of the universe and deeply in awe of the this beautiful planet and the cosmos which produced it."

I think this is interesting, because from what i understand, Flew was most dramatically influenced by the anthropic principle. So basically, he came to the conclusion that "this beautiful planet and the cosmos" could not have come into existence without a divine source. So I would like to know, what rational view do you hold to explain away the argument from fine-tuning?

Unknown said...

Also, Flew was alive and able to respond to those who were calling him senile in both written letters and spoken interviews before he died. For example check out this video on youtube: "Anthony Flew - The Honest Ex-Atheist (uncensored)". He's obviously old but hardly senile. Your post is full of ad hominem fallacies. You attack the Christians who helped write the book with Flew and then the ones running this site with no evidence for your conclusions at all. If atheism is such a tenable worldview than why resort to such childish tactics instead of pointing to facts that support what you think. To say negative things about Christians is one thing, we expect it because were told to expect it by Christ, but to call a man senile when he obviously wasn't and is no longer able to defend himself makes me wonder "why you believe you need to use dishonest tactics to trick people with. Is it because you know honesty doesn't work?" This quote seems to work much better if directed at your post rather than at Flews statement.

Kyle Essary said...

The only source of information you could have for such a ludicrous claim would be the Oppenheimer piece in the New York Times. There are serious problems with that piece:

1. Flew responded to Oppenheimer's claims that the book wasn't representative of him and said, "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."

2. Let's not forget that Flew started moving toward deism in his late 70s (around 2003) and the book was written later. He actually became a theist in or just before 2004. You can find interviews with him from this time where he explains his thinking and how he came to his positions...he doesn't seem senile in the least.

3. Atheists (such as Carrier) have tried to say that his change had to do with Intelligent Design, but in reality when he's speaking of a Great Intelligence, he has something more Aristotelean in mind. More than anything, it seems like his thinking over his last years became influenced by the Philosopher and by Thomas. Notice how he emphasizes John Haldane (a Thomist) and Brian Davies' work (another Thomist).

4. He was in a debate/discussion with NT Wright at Oxford about two years ago that you can find online. He is clearly not senile at this point, but very lucid regarding his views. You may be interested in seeing what he had to say.

Anonymous said...

Why do some folks think they need to engage Rosy when he's so obviously throwing mud simply for the joy of throwing mud?

It is funny though to see an Apologetics blog like this one have 5 guys chomping at the bit to take on an angry atheist. I imagine that Joel Osteen's message board could use some of your willingness to expose error!

Oh, and Brian? I still owe you a review of the White vs. Barker debate. I randomly remembered that this morning. DOH!

Russell said...

Hi mennoknight,

I don't want to speak for anyone else who has posted, but I don't see the issue with pointing out when someone's comment makes no sense or has no proof behind it.
Also, I don't think it's fair to assume that I, or anyone else, is simply waiting to pounce on any atheist that visits this blog. I regularly visit many other boards, and enjoy weighing in occasionally. I've yet to visit the Joel Osteen boards though. Perhaps I should add that to the list :)

On a side note, this is the second time today I've heard reference to the White vs. Barker debate. Perhaps I will have to look into it!

bossmanham said...


I don't see a problem with correcting error, even if the error was simply to bait responses. If we just let error stand unanswered, whatever its motive, then we have a problem.

Anonymous said...


I love guys who are "apologetics heads".

Whether atheist or drive by commenter, they're always raring to go!

bossmanham said...

1 Peter 3:15 all the way! :D

Unknown said...

Hey mennoknight, I know I'm just falling into your trap but you seem to think it's wrong for us to state our opinion about a post in order to point out the errors in someones thinking. Isn't that exactly what your trying to do with us though?

Anonymous said...

Okay. Serious tone of voice now.

To all who worry about the refutation of error, it's fine to expose error. The Bible commands Christians to do so, and we all know 1 Peter 3:15-16 and other similar passages. None of us want to sit by and watch truth get punched in the face.

I was attempting to make a veiled and unclear observation about the uselessness of interacting with someone who was clearly looking to shoot his mouth off and NOT looking for intelligent interaction. 1 Peter 3:15-16 doesn't apply here; it's more of a situation of Prov. 26:4-5 (which is set within the pericope of 26:1-12 [wisdom regarding fools] and Greg Bahsen, for all he got right, really misunderstood).

Proverbs 26:4-5 teaches that arguing with a fool gets you absolutely nowhere. If you respond to him, you sink to his level of mud-slinging or "yo mama" comments and descending into sinful usage of the tongue is almost guaranteed. If you ignore him, he thinks he's a genius.

That's not a popular idea in apologetics circles because intelligent Christians often struggle with pride and their pride cannot leave any slanderous or deceitful comment unaddressed.

Unknown said...

I see your point but you can be intelligent without being proud. Ill let you have the last word.

Lee said...

Flew started moving toward deism in his late 70s (around 2003) and the book was written later. He actually became a theist in or just before 2004.

Lets be honest - who cares.

Flew changed his mind in old age - I could not careless if he changed his mind at the age of 30.

Where are Flew's objections to his own arguments made against the theistic god?

Those arguments would be interesting to read.

Any links? Any discusion?


Anonymous said...

In 1976, Professor Flew debated Dr. Thomas B. Warren, four consecutive nights, before audiences of five to seven thousand on the campus of North Texas State University. In Flew's book, There Is A God ( 2005), to which you refer elsewhere on this site, he stated that his debate with Professor Warren was the best attended of all his debates with theists. Surely this is significant when one considers that Flew debated such noted thinkers as C.S. Lewis, Alvin Plantinga,Richard Swinburne, and William Lane Craig. Roy Abraham Varghese, who contributed the Preface to Dr. Flew's above referenced book, said the following concerning Dr. Warren: "At a time when theistic philosophers were a distinct minority in academia, Dr. Thomas B. Warren refused to let atheists set the agenda...[Warren] engaged the leading atheists of his day in public debate....It is no exageration to say that he changed the whole climate of thought as it pertained to the public perception of theism." ( Just wondering how a website devoted to apologetics could omit the high-level apologetics work of Professor Warren for whom a credible case can be made that he was among the leading apologists of the 20th century?

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