[Paleopsych] ABC: (Flew) One of World's Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less, Based on Scientific Evidence
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Fri Aug 12 16:17:02 UTC 2005
One of World's Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less, Based on
[Doesn't Flew realize that the designer is more of a mystery than the world
itself? It is quite true, of course, that current scientists do not understand
the origin of life. What is increasing is our understanding of how complex
systems evolve. To say, though that "science" will *someday* understand the
origin of life, does involve quite a bit of optimism on the part of what we
think we can get out of three-pound brains. Adopting a rule, "always keep
looking, never stop and say there must have been design," is a very good rule
from the standpoint of keeping scientific investigations open, but it does
prejudge the issue. My own atheism has this weak point, which I do not try to
make inconspicuous. Rather, I have come to talk about the evidence for Hell
more than the evidence for God. I know very little about the arguments for the
existence of the Hell and the existence of the Devil, beyond saying that both
are attested to in various sacred writings. Any references?]
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."
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.
There was no one moment of change but a gradual
conclusion over recent months for Flew, a spry
man who still does not believe in an afterlife.
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?"
The video draws from a New York discussion last
May organized by author Roy Abraham Varghese's
Institute for Metascientific Research in Garland,
Texas. Participants were Flew; Varghese; Israeli
physicist Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jew; and
Roman Catholic philosopher John Haldane of
Scotland's University of St. Andrews.
The first hint of Flew's turn was a letter to the
August-September issue of Britain's Philosophy
Now magazine. "It has become inordinately
difficult even to begin to think about
constructing a naturalistic theory of the
evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote.
The letter commended arguments in Schroeder's
"The Hidden Face of God" and "The Wonder of the
World" by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.
This week, Flew finished writing the first formal
account of his new outlook for the introduction
to a new edition of his "God and Philosophy,"
scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Press.
Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but
if his belief upsets people, well "that's too
bad," Flew said. "My whole life has been guided
by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it
Last week, Richard Carrier, a writer and Columbia
University graduate student, posted new material
based on correspondence with Flew on the
atheistic www.infidels.org Web page. Carrier
assured atheists that Flew accepts only a
"minimal God" and believes in no afterlife.
Flew's "name and stature are big. Whenever you
hear people talk about atheists, Flew always
comes up," Carrier said. Still, when it comes to
Flew's reversal, "apart from curiosity, I don't think it's like a big
Flew told The Associated Press his current ideas
have some similarity with American "intelligent
design" theorists, who see evidence for a guiding
force in the construction of the universe. He
accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can
explain the ultimate origins of life.
A Methodist minister's son, Flew became an atheist at 15.
Early in his career, he argued that no
conceivable events could constitute proof against
God for believers, so skeptics were right to
wonder whether the concept of God meant anything at all.
Another landmark was his 1984 "The Presumption of
Atheism," playing off the presumption of
innocence in criminal law. Flew said the debate
over God must begin by presuming atheism, putting
the burden of proof on those arguing that God exists.
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