Friday, November 21, 2014

Antony Flew: An Atheist who Looked at the Evidence

Antony Flew has been called the “foremost atheist thinker of the 20th century.” However, after 40 years of debating Christians, he surprised the world.

At a 2004 debate at New York University, Flew declared that he “now accepted the existence of a God” (p. 74). In that debate, he said that he believed that the origin of life points to a creative Intelligence,

·       Almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence.” (Antony Flew with Roy Varghese, There is a God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, 75).

Reviewer Lita Cosner points out that:

·       Flew was particularly impressed with a physicist’s refutation of the idea that monkeys at typewriters would eventually produce a Shakespearean sonnet. The likelihood of getting one Shakespearean sonnet by chance is one in 10690; to put this number in perspective, there are only 1080 particles in the universe. Flew concludes:

o   “If the theorem won’t work for a single sonnet, then of course it’s simply absurd to suggest that the more elaborate feat of the origin of life could have been achieved by chance.” (78)

Why was Flew influenced by this evidence and not the majority of atheists? Did he have a religious experience? He explained:

·       “I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena. It has been an exercise in what has traditionally been called natural theology. It has had no connection with any of the revealed religions. Nor do I claim to have had any personal experience of God or any experience that may be called supernatural or miraculous. In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith.” (93).

Flew’s embrace of theism was driven by the evidence! Well, why doesn’t it drive others to the same conclusion? Here’s how the Apostle Paul explains it:

·       For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

Flew might have agreed!

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