Friday, December 10, 2004

Anthony Flew the Coop?

The news about noted atheist Anthony Flew’s recent change of view is beginning to hit the surface. For a long time now, he has been one of the standard bearers for philosophical atheism, so this change comes as somewhat of a monumental move. As he makes clear in the article, though, he is a long way away from the God of Christianity, or any other notion of a personal god.

"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."

So his view of the personal nature of God remains less than charitable.

Here is his explanation for what lead him to be a kind of deist:

Yet biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says in the new video, "Has Science Discovered God?"
Very interesting. First of all, the philosophical and scientific background behind the Intelligent Design movement is what seems to have lead him to this point.

Secondly, I find his kind of conversion (to deism and not Christian theism) telling. Critics of the standard arguments for God’s existence have always said that the arguments never lead to the God of the Bible, and are therefore useless. The best they can do is some kind of Prime Mover of deistic entity. In Flew’s case, that seems to be exactly what has happened.

I have always agreed that the standard arguments don’t argue for the full-fledged God of the Bible, but I am not sure that that is their burden. I have been of the opinion that if you have brought someone closer to belief, then you have brought down at least some of their barriers, and that is a good thing. In evangelical terms, is Flew closer to the God of Christianity now than before? Is his move to deism a good move for his eternal soul?

For those interested in more information, I think the next edition of Philosophia Christi will contain an interview with Flew about his new view on God.

Update:

The interview with Flew conducted by Habermas is already up on the Philosophia Christi website. Thanks to Mere Comments for the link.