The Conversion of Antony Flew

Recently I picked up the new book, There Is A God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, by Antony Flew, “with Roy Abraham Varghese” (though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet). But you don’t need to buy the book to get the gist of its claims. The New York Times Magazine has published an article about Flew and his book.

Mark Oppenheimer writes:

[Flew’s] greatest contribution remains his first, a short paper from 1950 called “Theology and Falsification.” … In a masterfully terse thousand words, Flew argues that “God” is too vague a concept to be meaningful. For if God’s greatness entails being invisible, intangible and inscrutable, then he can’t be disproved — but nor can he be proved.

The book offers elegant, user-friendly descriptions of the arguments that persuaded Flew, arguments familiar to anyone who has heard evangelical Christians’ “scientific proof” of God. From the “fine tuning” argument that the laws of nature are too perfect to have been accidents to the “intelligent design” argument that human biology cannot be explained by evolution to various computations meant to show that probability favors a divine creator, “There Is a God” is perhaps the handiest primer ever written on the science (many would say pseudoscience) of religious belief.

In other words, Flew converted from a silly form of atheism to a silly form of religion. I mean, anyone who buys the analysist/positivist argument against God deserves to believe the argument from design. By the way, Flew’s early essay is also available. (I guess I’m just not sophisticated enough to write a line like the following: “For if the utterance is indeed an assertion, it will necessarily be equivalent to a denial of the negation of the assertion.”)