Sunday, August 30, 2009

Antony Flew and The "Slippery Slope" of Theism.

There were two factors in particular that were decisive. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe. The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint despite numerous efforts to do so. With every passing year, the more that was discovered about the richness and inherent intelligence of life, the less it seemed likely that a chemical soup could magically generate the genetic code. The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical. The best confirmation of this radical gulf is Richard Dawkins' comical effort to argue in The God Delusion that the origin of life can be attributed to a "lucky chance." If that's the best argument you have, then the game is over. No, I did not hear a Voice. It was the evidence itself that led me to this conclusion. – Antony Flew.

This certainly was no Pauline conversion, a sudden blinding flash of light or understanding. Those who’ve argued against theism and intelligent design will probably find Flew’s reasoning “specious”, because these debates have been done to death. At the age of 81, “the world’s most famous atheist” decided that there is a God. Before you jump to conclusions, however, it might be wise to read the fine print. Flew really classifies more as a deist. Was this just an old man realising that his time on earth is limited, so he’d best make peace with his Maker? Well Flew doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Nor does he believe that God cares, much less intervenes in human lives. I wonder though, since he made the leap from atheism to theism, will he eventually also make the leap to belief in an afterlife and God intervening in human lives? I suppose anything is possible. As he notes, and I think rightly, the problem of evil is the strongest argument against the belief that God cares about human life, or any life on earth. However it also seems paradoxical, to me anyway, that if something as intelligent as a Designer could create such incredible complexity, that this Designer could not also provide a way for the immortality of his creations in some more complex realm, perhaps, of what we now call “spirit”, or even more far-fetched, resurrection. Many will say, “banish the thought”, but to use a Biblical phase, if God exists, “is anything impossible with God?”

I suppose we could call this the “slippery slope” of theism, and maybe it is because of eventual “absurdities” like this that many avoid theism altogether. I lost my interest in “God debates” a long time ago, because like Darwin I feel that ultimately it is something like “a dog contemplating the mind of Newton”. I don’t believe there will ever be an answer because the human brain is simply not capable of comprehending it all, and I suppose for the religious that’s where faith comes into play. Flew’s arguments really are not new. What impresses many is his bringing reasoning and science into his personal enlightenment, the converse of which could be something like the Pope saying “there is no God”, because science finally enlightened his understanding. The average believer will ask, “what took you so long, Antony?” Whether believer or unbeliever, however, it’s difficult to dismiss Antony Flew, who says his gradual transition to theism took 20 years.

I hope you enjoy the interviews.

Antony Flew with Benjamin Wiker

Antony Flew with Gary Habermas

Antony Flew: Wiki

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Ps. 22:10)

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