A Year After Confession

A Year after the Confession: Examining the Journey of a Former Atheistic Philosopher Antony Flew. Jerry Thomas examines this.

Over a year has passed since Professor Antony Flew, the atheistic philosopher, confessed his faith in God. One might ask whether there is anything so amazing about this conversion in a world where it is easier to find an atheist who embraces God than to find one who doesn’t do so. But Professor Flew was no ordinary atheist.

Although born to a Methodist Minister in 1923, Flew became an atheist at the age of 15 and acquired the rare distinction of being the most influential philosophical atheist in the 20th century. For half a century, beginning with the Oxford Don C S Lewis to Dr. Gary Habermas, Professor Flew has debated with the best of theistic minds. Moreover, he has written 23 books on various issues in Philosophy and more than 72 articles and pamphlets[1][1]. His book The Presumption of Atheism, and other philosophical essays on God, Freedom and Immortality is particularly noted worldwide among both theists and atheists.

Professor Flew’s argument for atheism was also not ordinary. In 1950, taking off from David Hume’s ‘Dialogues concerning Natural Religion,’ Professor Flew in his short article titled ‘Theology and Falsification’ set forth his case against theism. In this article, Professor Flew compared the arguments for the existence of God with parable of two explorers, a skeptic and a believer, who argue whether there is any gardener behind the many weeds and growing flowers in the jungle that they found. The believer who asserted that there is a gardener changes his statement from a gardener to an invisible gardener after they set up barbed fence wires around the jungle to find one. The believer further changes his statements when they electrify the fence, from an invisible gardener to ‘invisible, intangible, insensible to electric shocks, a gardener who has no scent and makes no sound, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the garden which he loves’ making it unfalisfiable.

Professor Flew argued that since the belief in the God and his ‘alleged’ actions are not scientifically falsifiable, those cannot be statements of truth[2][2]. Further, he argued that the burden of proof lies with one who makes propositions and not with one who opposes them. Therefore, one needs enough evidence to accept theism, as otherwise the presumed position should be that of atheism.  So, Professor Flew’s acceptance of theism is no ordinary event.

In an interview with his long time friend and theistic philosopher Dr. Gary Habermas, Professor Flew accepted his change in position and gave some reasons for this[3][3]. Professor Flew said, “I think that the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries. I’ve never been much impressed by the kalam cosmological argument, and I don’t think it has gotten any stronger recently. However, I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.” The irreducible complexity of DNA and complex information etched in it has finally persuaded Professor Flew to accept the existence of a gardener behind this grand universe.

He has also conceded that there is no evidence within the atheism to explain the origin of life, reproduction of life and the fact of many species.   Professor Flew’s journey might have begun when he changed his position on the presumption of atheism in 2001. After years of stubborn reluctance, Professor Flew finally began to see that one requires as much faith to accept basic premises of atheism as one needs for theism.

In the same year, Professor Flew had said that “We negative atheists are bound to see the Big Bang cosmology as requiring a physical explanation; and that one which, in the nature of the case, may nevertheless be forever inaccessible to human beings. But believers may, equally reasonably, welcome the Big Bang cosmology as tending to confirm their prior belief that "in the beginning" the Universe was created by God.”[4][4] Since then, Professor Flew has traveled a long way to the house of his eagerly awaiting Heavenly Father   . However, Professor Flew continues to resist accepting the revealed God of the Bible and His Great Salvation, although cracks have began to appear in that position too.

Professor Flew said, “I don’t believe in the God of any revelatory system, although I am open to that. But it seems to me that the case for an Aristotelian God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence is now much stronger than it ever was before.” Later Professor Flew admitted, “I am very much impressed with physicist Gerald Schroeder’s comments on Genesis 1.10 That this biblical account might be scientifically accurate raises the possibility that it is revelation.”

Professor Flew needs to travel more in the direction where the evidence leads him as well as search for more evidences at different places too. Andrew Klavan, who accepted Jesus Christ in last year, writes in the Wall Street Journal[5][5] that Professor Flew needs to search for evidence in the experience of being human. Klavan advises, “Let him, rather, talk to a recovering alcoholic in whom God stands surety for the diseased will, or visit a Salvation Army shelter where God has taught a despairing soul its worth. Let the professor–in the name of experiment–sit in solitude and give silent thanks and feel the almost instantaneous repayment in the coin of vitality and joy. In such situations, I refuse to acknowledge that there is a legitimate and meaningful concept of there being no God. The burden of proof is all on atheism.”

Professor Flew, the loving invisible gardener who died for you on the Cross is waiting with a banquet for your return. Hurry up. God Bless You.


[6][1] http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/antony_ Flew/ Flew-bio.html[7][2] See the article in http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/antony_Flew/theologyandfalsification.html[8][3] See the article in http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/[9][4] http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=138[10][5] ‘Going All the Way : An atheist "converts" to intelligent design. Why so timid, Mr. Flew?’ By Andrew Klavan, Friday, December 24.




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