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Antony Flew Now Belives in God

Miracles never cease....

Famous Atheist Now Belives in God

NEW YORK Dec 9, 2004 -- A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

Flew said he's best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people's lives.

"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said. "It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose."

Flew first made his mark with the 1950 article "Theology and Falsification," based on a paper for the Socratic Club, a weekly Oxford religious forum led by writer and Christian thinker C.S. Lewis.

Over the years, Flew proclaimed the lack of evidence for God while teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, and Reading universities in Britain, in visits to numerous U.S. and Canadian campuses and in books, articles, lectures and debates.

An interesting circular question now comes to mind... Thousands of people were affected by his works and are atheists because they believed him.... What are those people supposed to believe now?


Contrary to various rumors, Wizbang can not confirm that long time reader and mentally challenged loudmouth "Andy" was the victim of a head implosion tonight.


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Comments (37)

There are no atheists in fo... (Below threshold)
fatman:

There are no atheists in fox holes. Or, apparently, among the ranks of octogenarians.

Yeah, I was sorta thinking ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Yeah, I was sorta thinking the same thing lol

I dont think a lot of athei... (Below threshold)
comatose:

I dont think a lot of atheists are atheists because some other atheist tells them what to think. That's called church.

Deathbed conversions aside, an atheist is an atheist because he has decided not to believe something for which there is no evidence, except the belief of others.

Even though that Flew news ... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Even though that Flew news is old, it's good that you put it up, Paul.

comatose wrote:
I dont think a lot of atheists are atheists because some other atheist tells them what to think. That's called church.

The most militant atheists I've conversed with on the Internet seemed to have gotten that way because of some teenager-type rebellion against church. They usually require lots of reinforcement from others of their ilk to maintain their supposed non-belief, hence the childishness displayed in attacking people of faith and the insistence on removal of religious symbols, no matter what the symbols' historical value may be or how truly non-threatening the symbols are.

There are many athei... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

There are many atheists who are as you describe, comatose, but they by and large are not childish enough to call all theists stupid. That sort of behavior is reserved for the most vocal and militant among atheists, who not coincidentally are the ones who don't have much confidence in their non-belief and are atheists because that's what all of their "cool" friends are.

This isn't the old 'Flew ge... (Below threshold)
Botec:

This isn't the old 'Flew gets religion' news, which he has already rebutted (twice). This is the more recent news, in which he invokes cosmological arguments and abiogenesis.
He's already said of this latest 'conversion': "I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction."
Look, he's an old man, not as sharp as he once was, and he doesn't really deserve to be waved about as a banner by either side.

Hey, he's welcome to believ... (Below threshold)
andy:

Hey, he's welcome to believe whatever he wants to believe. Unfortunately, until he presents some kind of evidence other than his own person incredulity, his new-found deism has about as much support as any other belief in the supernatural (read: none).

Sue, I find your classifications amusing, but really no more accurate than those atheists who say strong Christians are just weak and in need of a crutch.

Personally, I attack any idea I find silly - religious belief is just one among many. Next you'll tell me I'm militantly pro-personal freedom to keep myself from backsliding into communism.

P.S. Paul, you're projectin... (Below threshold)
andy:

P.S. Paul, you're projecting again. Didn't your therapist tell you about that? You calling someone "mentally challenged" and "loudmouth" - now that's rich.

Hey, when you're done here, maybe you'll demonstrate your vast ignorance of evolution for us again! Wow!

comatose, saying Flew didn'... (Below threshold)
Paul:

comatose, saying Flew didn't influence thousands of people's beliefs is just silly.

Why do you think this is news?

Next you'll say people didn't change the way they raised children because (that idiot) Dr. Spock.

Andy you said his new belie... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Andy you said his new beliefs lacked evidence.. as if his old ones didn't.

Second you said: Sue, I find your classifications amusing, but really no more accurate than those atheists who say strong Christians are just weak and in need of a crutch.

Which is basically the exact thing you say everyday. (and BTW why you got deleted last time. If you said about black people what you said about Christians, you'd have gotten the boot just as fast.)

Lastly, who said I was talking about you?

andy wrote:<i... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

andy wrote:
Personally, I attack any idea I find silly - religious belief is just one among many. Next you'll tell me I'm militantly pro-personal freedom to keep myself from backsliding into communism.

I couldn't get to your website to confirm this, but I gather you're an Objectivist?

Sue that was a laughable li... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Sue that was a laughable line coming from him but let's let the whole thing drop... my finger is already getting itchy on the "close comments" button.

Sure thing, Paul, it's your... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Sure thing, Paul, it's your party. :)

This blog entry spells trou... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

This blog entry spells trouble. I think it would be better if we discussed how PCs are better than Macs.

Yes, Paul, can't have any n... (Below threshold)
andy:

Yes, Paul, can't have any nasty atheists involved in your echo chamber. I forgot what a fan of open debate you are.

I don't recall saying all strong Christians are weak and in need of a crutch, although I certainly think it plays a role in some (and would even agree with Sue that some atheists are such out of a sense of rebellion).

Anyway, Sue, no I wouldn't say I'm necessarily an Objectivist, as they get to close to the border of being religious for my tastes (e.g. "How dare you insult the memory of Ayn Rand!"). I'd say I'm more of a general materialist and empiricist.

Should you wish to discuss it further, please feel free to comment at my blog or via e-mail, as someone is bound to challenge Paul in a minute and he'll close down the comments.

"are atheists because they ... (Below threshold)
Eric:

"are atheists because they believed him"

Assuming anyone is an Athesist because of Flew, it is because he convinced them and not because they "believe" in him.

Pretending reason=faith (when it suits you) is an old, but silly trick.

What are those people su... (Below threshold)

What are those people supposed to believe now?

What does he have to do with what I believe?? I'm an atheist, and another changing their views will not change mine.

A few of you miss my point.... (Below threshold)
Paul:

A few of you miss my point.... It's a circular question...

If they believed that he made a powerful argument and their belief system was swayed by his arguments then what do they believe now that the has said his own arguments were flawed?

My question has nothing to do with God or religion and everything to do with philosophy and logic. (think about it for a minute.)

>Yes, Paul, can't have any ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Yes, Paul, can't have any nasty atheists involved in your echo chamber. I forgot what a fan of open debate you are.

It's not nasty atheists I mind, it's the nasty idiots.

>I don't recall saying all strong Christians are weak and in need of a crutch,

You didn't say it per se... Instead you said that the only problem with a certain post was that the poster did not go out of their way to ridicule Christians for their beliefs.

What a charming attitude that is.

You are no less bigoted than Robert Byrd or David Duke. THAT'S why you got deleted. If you said that about any other group you would have been tossed just as quickly...

Well, unless it was about liberals. lol

Well, I never did believe i... (Below threshold)
God:

Well, I never did believe in this Antony Flew man. I am sending him a plague of boils.

Finally got to read some of... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Finally got to read some of World Wide Rant.

Andy sure is preoccupied with an entity he doesn't believe in. In the words of Heywood Broun: "Nobody talks so constantly about God as those who insist that there is no God."

If I ever start a blog, I'm going to write five or six entries a day about Santa Claus. Or maybe Thor.

Oh yeah, and I'm going to v... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Oh yeah, and I'm going to visit every Christmas page and berate anyone who mentions Santa Claus in any positive way. That is one advantage he has over Thor. He still has webpages where people talk about him.

Yeah that's what I don't ge... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Yeah that's what I don't get. He seems to have some fixation.

Like he had a God doll his mommy took away at a young age.... Or (better) maybe his mommy told him that if he had another pee pee accident God was going to punish him...

I dunno what his problem is, but he's a freak.

He always strikes me as a g... (Below threshold)
Paul:

He always strikes me as a guy who is so unsure of himself he has to keep telling everyone what he believes. Sometimes, if you read him enough, it's almost like he's running from something. (you have to read him to get that, which I did one day when I was drunk and bored)

I don't know what it is, but as my sister the psychologist would say he has "issues."

Sue -If I ever ... (Below threshold)
andy:

Sue -

If I ever start a blog, I'm going to write five or six entries a day about Santa Claus. Or maybe Thor.

Gosh, Sue, imagine that in a week where the ID movement was on the front page, that I'd actually be discussing the subject. Positively shocking!

I'd happily write about Santa Claus and Thor enthusiasts were they trying to get their beliefs into the classroom and the courtroom. But, you see, Sue, they're not.

All in all, I'm just as likely to write about the war on terror or technology or what music I am listening to at the moment as I am your beliefs. For some reason, though, the fact that I dare write about religion makes the religious overly focus on that and assume it's all I write about it. I'd say I'm not the one with any particular fixation.

Paul, I'd reply, but the fact that you admit to being on the blogosphere drunk explains more of your posts than I could ever hope to. Looking forward to your next tome on evolution, though!

Still can't read can ya And... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Still can't read can ya Andy....

I was drunk when I was READING you buddy.

Do have to try that hard to make an ass of yourself?

Yes, Paul, I read that, hen... (Below threshold)
andy:

Yes, Paul, I read that, hence my comment of "being on the blogosphere," thereby implying that your drunkenness isn't limited only to reading other blogs.

Do try to keep up, Dr. Paul. I expect much more from someone with degrees in evolutionary biology AND psychology. :)

andy wrote:[s... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

andy wrote:
[snip snarky stuff]
I'd happily write about Santa Claus and Thor enthusiasts were they trying to get their beliefs into the classroom and the courtroom. But, you see, Sue, they're not.
[snip more snarky stuff]

Whew, you sure do seem to have a bee in your bonnet. I haven't read your profile, but I'm betting lapsed Catholic, right?

Guess where I learned about Santa Claus? Public school, where other Jewish kids got their first introduction to Santa. My mother debriefed me afterward, but neither she nor my father were upset. I even kept the secret like they asked me to so I wouldn't ruin Christmas for my friends. I had lots more friends by being tolerant of their beliefs, instead of going around screaming my head off about how stupid they were for believing in such nonsense.

Guess where I learned about the Norse gods? Public school, from where I and my friends managed to emerge without ever feeling the need to bow down to Odin or Thor.

Guess where I first saw a statue of a Greek deity? In front of a courthouse where my father worked. Amazingly, nobody believed enough in the goddess Athena to have her carted off the premises.

Your fears are unfounded and irrational, andy. Your anger is misplaced.

Your fears are unfounded... (Below threshold)
andy:

Your fears are unfounded and irrational, andy. Your anger is misplaced.

Sorry, I guess I've been imagining the efforts to get ID into the science classrooms. I must be a very creative sort. Good to know I've just been making it all up in my head - *whew!*

As for the other gods (or even the Christian one), they have their place in comparative theology or world history classes. Their existence and influence are documented facts (even if their conclusions are not). I don't know of anyone who has a problem with them being taught in that context.

As for the courthouse, I have little issue with religious symbology used in a historical context, if thorough (whereas I would not consider slapping only the Ten C up next to the Constitution as anything other than a dishonest sneak attempt).

Again, there's nothing there to imply one should believe - however, put a giant monument to the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court, and that's all you're doing.

My fears seem to be quite well-founded, thank you.

>My fears seem to be quite ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>My fears seem to be quite well-founded, thank you.

God IS going to punish you if you make pee pee in your pants again?

My fears seem to be quit... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

My fears seem to be quite well-founded, thank you.

No, they're not.

What do you fear will happen if ID is taught alongside evolution?

I've got a secret to tell you. Twentysome years ago, on the first day of my high-school honors biology class, the teacher wrote three possible explanations of the origins of life on Earth on the chalkboard. I can't remember the second one (see how well I was indoctrinated?), but the first one was "by fiat" and the third one was evolution.

He briefly explained "fiat" as being the word of a Supreme Being, then told us that he could not demonstrate that at all and moved on to teaching us about evolution.

His mention of creation so stunted my science education that I got an A+ in his class. It would have been an A-, but I answered the bonus final exam question by actually thinking scientifically for myself instead of regurgitating what he taught us.

What do you fear ... (Below threshold)
andy:


What do you fear will happen if ID is taught alongside evolution?

It will lend legitimacy to something that is, as of this moment, not legitimate science. Someday it might be, as soon as the ID supporters get around to providing some evidence and a falsifiable theory. However, I'm not going to have this debate here as it's already been raging on my blog and others for the better part of a week.

I've got a secret to tell you. Twentysome years ago, on the first day of my high-school honors biology class, the teacher wrote three possible explanations of the origins of life on Earth on the chalkboard. I can't remember the second one (see how well I was indoctrinated?), but the first one was "by fiat" and the third one was evolution.

Your biology teacher should learn the difference between evolution and abiogenesis.

That aside, your point is taken - and perhaps you did think scientifically - but many polls indicate a large portion of the population does not. Bringing non-science into the science classroom certainly won't help stem that tide.

this whole thing is pretty ... (Below threshold)
ryanA:

this whole thing is pretty funny. so the old atheist, who influenced people for years with his thinking, suddenly changed his mind and decided he believes in some sort of god after all. ha. so it boils down to belief in the end, even for a rational empiricist like that old bastard.

the difference between the two sides doesnt seem very great sometimes.

and what about the people who listened to that guy and based their thinking on what he told them? could they be called faith-based atheists? do they change their belief systems to go along with their guru, or denounce him as insane? what a quandary that one is!

i personally dont care. if he wants to believe in some sort of god thats great to me. to me there is room for the evolutionists, the atheists, the creationists, and everyone in between. i dont really have an interest in proclaiming that i know all the correct answers.

i have heard multiple explanations of how life began on earth, and many of them are pretty interesting...why does one have to be THE correct version?

[Botec's] quote of A. Flew:... (Below threshold)
BR:

[Botec's] quote of A. Flew: "I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction."

If Flew really said that, then I think he is still on the "man is mud" line of thought.

I've never commented in any of Paul's popular Intelligent Design vs Evolution threads, because both sides are correct if viewed in conjunction with each other; they are two halves of a truth.

Cause and effect. Intelligence causes effects in the physical universe (or any other universe). An intelligent being (whether that be one big being or all of us together co-creating) decides to have a game called the material world, so over trillions of years it evolves into much complexity in a large universe with many galaxies. Earth could have been a zoo planet, where forms evolved as well as new forms added - that's all protoplasm line. Almost a self-perpetuating machine until ice ages, etc. wipe out the forms. Cloning is nothing new; nature is designed to do it all the time. But all these forms and material objects are the effects. Effects don't create anything; these forms just follow a continual cycle of start-change-stop based on original "blue prints." DNA, genes, atom behaviour, etc. are the software for the hardware. These things are not the computer designer or operator.

Cause creates effects. And the definition of Cause would have to be something superior to an effect. Comparable to a movie producer, script writer and cast causing a film to be made. Life is like 76 trillion years of movies by gazillions of beings. Perhaps we all came from one source being, but we sure have split apart, and in the process forgot who we are - the movie producers, not the props. Perhaps it got boring just being one super being. So now we have lots of viewpoints and lots of spicy adventures.

Man did not come from mud. Man (as beings) created mud, and more mud, and more complex mud, and plants that re-seed and animal bodies that procreate, and homo sap bodies, and Fords, and Jaguars and spaceships - all vehicles for the games we play. (Hee, some of it is quite artistic too - whenever I look at the little fishies behind the Las Vegas Mirage check-in desk, I truly admire that "designer of fish" being - so colorful and what a self-perpetuating living work of art! Gauguin's envy - his paintings weren't designed to procreate themselves.)

Good post, ryanA.I... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Good post, ryanA.

I guess my whole point that there was a time in the not too distant past that our public education system, indeed our entire public life, was filled (or adulterated, the way some people look at it) with Judeo-Christian observances and symbolism, and it didn't inhibit scientific or technological progress one bit.

The people who put Americans in space and on the moon were educated in schools before all vestiges of religion were removed from them. Since then, militant atheists have managed to purge such things out, and what progress in science and technology have we made? Very little in comparison. Almost all of it is merely incremental improvement on breakthroughs from the "adulterated" era. And if you factor in the social impact, you could argue that we've actually gone backwards.

Maybe we need the pendulum to swing back a little.

Sue,>I guess my whol... (Below threshold)
Bojangles:

Sue,
>I guess my whole point that there was a time in >the not too distant past that our public education >system, indeed our entire public life, was filled >(or adulterated, the way some people look at it) >with Judeo-Christian observances and symbolism, >and it didn't inhibit scientific or technological >progress one bit.

Can you in fact demonstrate this to be true? What about the advances in biology and medicine that were only possible because those very Judo-Christian biases were put to the side and true science was done. It wasn't faith or wishful thinking that helped us make these advances and I challenge you to provide evidence to the contrary. Many people have faith, but few scientists tested their findings by proposing that we have faith that they are correct. They had to demonstrate, an act, not a belief. Then someone else had to reproduce their experiment. I think what is being objected to is the same thing that you object to. The objection is where you start, you with faith and where an atheist starts, without. The preoccupation comes from the same place as your preoccupation. It's the blind spot that must be avoided in order to think critically. It is the insistence on avoiding the blind spot that is Andy's preoccupation. No one is asked to abandon their faith, but everyone should recognize that faith is a personal thing, we all travel lonely roads to our own faith. You have no more idea about my faith than I do of yours. We do share symbols, but you can't critically examine your reliance on your faith begins from within your faith. There has to be an ability to step outside of our biases in order to objectively examine our world and ourselves. That is true of any bias, not just belief/lack there of in God.

As far as the rest of your post, you can't really be serious? You honestly think that since the 1960's that we have only made incremental progress? Can you defend your assertion? Or perhaps you meant to say exponential progress, but that wouldn't really fit the theme of your post. No one asks you to discard your faith, but do take off your faith-colored glasses when examining things that really don't pertain to faith.

Rebut me by listing example... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Rebut me by listing examples, Bojangles. I mentioned the technologies that got us into space and on the moon in a decade and a half.

Only inventions from the 1980's onward count, since we're talking about the generation of students from "unadulterated" schools, the 1960's. I'm being generous of course, if I wanted to split hairs like some have in this thread, I would only count the mid 1980's onward.

Computers? Invented in the 1940's.

Internet? Combination of computers from the 1940's, telecommunications from the late 1800's, cabling technologies stretching from the late 1800's to the 1950's, networking from the 1960's.

Lasers? Invented in 1950's.

Genetics? All of the mechanics of DNA were discovered in the 1950's. DNA itself was invented in... well...

Hey, at least there's that nifty Segway scooter thingie.

One more thing: I bet you've never thought about how the story of Noah gave rise to the theory of evolution.




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