Leading Atheist Philosopher Converts to Theism
Anthony Flew has been one of the leading atheist philosophers for some time now. His father was a Methodist minister, but he left Christianity and became an atheist at the age of 15. He is a Professor of Philosophy and has written well over a dozen books on philosophy and atheism. Over the years he has engaged in many debates with theists on the question of the existeince of God--always espousing the side of the atheist. Leadership U has a biography for him:
Professor Anthony Flew: D. Litt. (Keele) Casberd Scholar of St. John's College, Oxford. He received the John Locke Scholarship in Mental Philosophy (1948). Professor of Philosophy in York University, Toronto. Professor and lecturer at various institutions including King's College, University of Aberdeen. He has held numerous academic positions including philosophy advisor for the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in London and visiting lecturer on behalf of the British Council to Poland, Burma, Thailand, Argentina, and Brazil. He is corresponding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Claims of the Paranormal, Member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, Member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Adam Smith Institute, Vice-President of the Rationalist Press Association, Member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (1974-79), and Foundation Member of the Council of the Freedom Association. His writings include: God and Philosophy (Harcourt Brace & World, 1967); The Presumption of Atheism (Pemberton/Elek, and Barnes & Noble, 1976); and A Rational Animal (Clarendon, 1978); Professor Flew is generally regarded as the most influential contemporary representative of philosophical atheism.
But things change. Even atheists. Even the "most influential contermporary representative of philosophical atheism." (Richard Carrier of the Secular Web, who has been trying to downplay the possibility of a Flew deconversion, has to admit that Flew's "name and stature are big. Whenever you hear people talk about atheists, Flew always comes up.").
Rumors that Flew was growing increasingly sympathetic to theistic ideas have floated around the internet for many months. Those rumors have been confirmed. In an interview with the Associated Press, Flew stated that he has concluded that scientific evidence -- akin to that espoused by the Intelligent Design movement -- has lead him to conclude that there is a God.
To be sure, Flew has not converted to Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. But he now believes that there probably is a higher intelligence, a being with intelligence and purpose, that created the universe. As Flew states in a new video being released, 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." This makes it clear that Flew sees God's hand active not only in the big bang, but in the specific creation of life. In other words, a purely naturalistic Darwinism is insufficient to explain the existence of life. According to the AP, "He accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life."
Skeptics are afraid to admit that a rational atheist could ever slide back towards a belief in God. I have seen murmers that perhaps Flew is getting old and simply afraid of dying (Flew is 81). This is just wishful thinking. Rational, informed, and intelligent people can and do believe in God for rational, informed, and intelligent reasons. Flew is now one of them. Furthermore, any fear of death Flew might have is not solved by his belief in God--he still does not believe that there is an afterlife.
This is rather exciting news. And a death knell to the notion that rationality, science, and intelligence cannot lead a reasonable person to a belief in God.