Monday, November 19, 2007

Controversy Over New Anthony Flew Book

Anthony Flew, prestigious British philosopher and nearly life-long atheist, has written a new book called There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. I have submitted a review of it to a newspaper, so will not post it as yet. The New York Times claims that Flew was manipulated by Christians. A recently piece in Publishers Weekly has a statement by Flew denying any manipulation. The book was written with Abraham Roy Varghese, but represents Flew's ideas, Flew claims.

I take this to be a very significant book, one that lays out clear scientific reasons why one should rationally believe in a Creator and Designer God. Flew is not yet a Christian, however--although the book concludes with a dialogue with no less than NT Wright on the deity and resurrection of Jesus. Please pray for Dr. Flew. He is in his eighties, so he needs to cram for finals.

12 comments:

Adam Omelianchuk said...

I'm halfway through this, and it is a delightful read. I look forward to your review.

Sarah Scott said...

This book is on my Amazon wish list!

Of course as soon as a respected athiest changes his mind, someone has to come out and try to deny credibility and authenticity of his claims. After living as an atheist, certainly one cannot one his own conclude THEISM! I hope those who believe that actually read and consider the argument.

I am very glad you wrote a review! I look foward to it.

Jeff S. said...

Thanks for the post. Flew's comments will be a nice intro for my upcoming class on design!

And it's a good thing that God allows us to cram for finals. That last 5 minutes before class might be just what one needs to pass the test...

Tony said...

What a tragedy it would be if, for all the decades of debate with Christian thinkers, like his buddy Gary Habermas, Flew never moves beyond deism. Don't get me wrong, it is a tribute to Flew's open-mindedness and willingness to follow the evidence wherever it leads that he has changed his mind on the question of God's existence. However, so many apologetics-oriented folks have been hailing this as an epic event for Christian apologetics, when he simply believes in a sort of Aristotelian unmoved mover god who is impersonal and completely hands off, and certainly never incarnated in Jesus Christ. While I have not yet read this new book, in several interviews since his about-face, Flew himself repeatedly rejects attributing any personal qualities to his god. It may be an epic event in deistic apologetics, but probably not Christian apologetics. Believing some sort of being wound it all up is a far cry from worshiping Christ as the God-enfleshed Lord and Savior. I will definitely be praying for his intellectual pilgrimage to continue toward the God with us, but let's put this intellectual turnabout in perspective. Let's hope and pray that at the end of Flew's life this change in perspective amounts to more than coming to affirm the existence of french fries.

Robert Velarde said...

As a former atheist, I'd have to say that Flew's transition from atheism to deism is a watershed moment. In my experience atheists don't just jump to Christianity but follow a progression. Given enough time, I think Flew will come around to theism then Christian theism, but it could take awhile.

D. A. Armstrong said...

Flew already has a pretty high view of Christianity. Perhaps not the Christianity we are used to seeing in the churches, but at minimum the type the New Testament talks about. In a discussion with Gary Habermas, he talks highly about the writers of the Bible. He held at that time some form of the hallucination theory, but it wasn't real clear how that all worked out.

The problem with the atheist response from the article is that they are explaining why and how someone could come to believe in theism. The problem here is that they already suppose their view as true. I see this problem a lot with atheists. If a person disagrees they argue against them, by explaining how that person came to believe it.

All that said, in one of the discussions with Habermas, Flew seemed confused about some of his beliefs. It seems like Flew is rethinking a lot of things. I'm not sure how many of you have had to reject a belief that you held to dearly. It is a difficult thing. My theological views have changed significantly over the last 2-3 years. Those changes were very difficult and I'd change views every other day, upon reflection. It seems this is what Flew is doing.

Kyl said...

Tony (above) wrote, “It may be an epic event in deistic apologetics, but probably not Christian apologetics.” Flew’s change is defiantly having a positive impact on particular types of apologetic arguments. For example, J.P. Moreland has talked about it in a debate that he did. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3780702651936909797&q=J.P.+Moreland&total=54&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

Moreland talks about it in the first part.

Tony said...

Robert,
I appreciate your point about the process of changing one's beliefs--you are certainly correct here. The point I'm making is simply that a lot of apologetics-minded people acted as if Flew was one of the fold after his announcement when, in fact, he has a long way to go in embracing the triune God of the Bible. Most people in our culture believe that God exists, but we all know that many of them are nowhere near acknowledging Christ as God, Lord, and Savior (and this is the really critical stuff)! Though, as D. A. noted, Flew does seem to exhibit some confusion and waffling on his beliefs in various interviews, which is probably a good thing as he continues to hammer out his new perspective.
Thanks, Kyl, for the video link---I'll check that out.

ephphatha said...

I sure wish Flew had written that book himself.

Robert Velarde said...

tony, I think what is significant about Flew's shift to deism is what Dallas Willard has called the "ontologically haunted universe," meaning that, in this case, now that Flew believes in a deistic god the existence of such a being will nag at him intellectually.

Some kind of god exists out there, but what exactly is this being up to? Flew's metaphysical universe is now "haunted" by this reality.

Being a smart man, Flew will continue to ponder this fact. At best I think deism will be a halfway house for Flew, but like I said before it could be awhile until he moves beyond deism. Flew's case reminds me somewhat of Mortimer Adler's eventual conversion to Christianity late in life.

Kyl said...

Tony,

I’m glad I was able to provide that information.

Razumihin said...

Here is a quote from an interview, which, (in part?) can be found here: http://www.tothesource.org/10_30_2007/10_30_2007.htm


WIKER: According to There is a God, you are not what might be called a "thin theist," that is, the evidence led you not merely to accept that there is a "cause" of nature, but "to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being." How far away are you, then, from accepting this Being as a person rather than a set of characteristics, however accurate they may be? (I'm thinking of C. S. Lewis' remark that a big turning point for him, in accepting Christianity, was in realizing that God was not a "place"—a set of characteristics, like a landscape—but a person.)

FLEW: I accept the God of Aristotle who shares all the attributes you cite. Like Lewis I believe that God is a person but not the sort of person with whom you can have a talk. It is the ultimate being, the Creator of the Universe.