Sources returnpage

Flew, Antony

Category: Philosopher

Antony Garrard Newton Flew (11 February 1923 – 8 April 2010) was a British philosopher and the son of a Methodist minister. Belonging to the "analytic and evidentialist” schools of thought, Flew was most notable for his work related to the philosophy of religion. During the course of his career he taught at the universities of Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele and Reading, and at York University in Toronto.  Flew’s entire life was devoted to the study of the philosophy of religion. 

For much of his career Flew was known as a strong advocate of atheism, arguing that one should presuppose atheism until empirical evidence of a God surfaces. He also criticised the idea of life after death,  the free will defence to the problem of evil, and the meaningfulness of the concept of God.   In 2003 he was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.

However, in 2004, aged 81, he stated an allegiance to deism, more specifically a belief in the Aristotelian God. He stated that in keeping his lifelong commitment to go where the evidence leads, he now believed in the existence of God.

In a December 2004 interview he said: 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.

A book outlining his reasons for changing his position, There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind was written by Flew in collaboration with Roy Abraham Varghese.

The book (and Flew's conversion itself) has been the subject of controversy, following an article in The New York Times Magazine alleging that Flew had mentally declined, and that the book was primarily the work of Varghese;  Flew himself specifically denied this, stating that the book represented his views, although he acknowledged that due to his age Varghese had done most of the actual work of writing the book.  Pure supposition of course on my part but maybe the left brain had been given a rest and the right brain had for once in his life been allowed to take over.  If that is mental decline then let’s hope it catches on.

In 2007, in an interview with Benjamin Wiker, Flew said he was now essentially a deist.  Deism is the belief that there is a God that created the physical universe but does not interfere with it.  This belief was the result of his "growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe" and "my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source."

In addition, he rejected "Richard Dawkins' effort to argue in The God Delusion that the origin of life can be attributed to a "lucky chance”.

" If that's the best argument you have, then the game is over."

References

A useful Youtube video which shows the progress of his change.

Observations

For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.