There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind

There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind

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by Antony Flew, Roy Abraham Varghese
     
 

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In There Is a God, one of the world's preeminent atheists discloses how his commitment to "follow the argument wherever it leads" led him to a belief in God as Creator. This is a compelling and refreshingly open-minded argument that will forever change the atheism debate.

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Overview

In There Is a God, one of the world's preeminent atheists discloses how his commitment to "follow the argument wherever it leads" led him to a belief in God as Creator. This is a compelling and refreshingly open-minded argument that will forever change the atheism debate.

Editorial Reviews

John Polkinghorne
“A clear, accessible account of the ‘pilgrimage of reason’ which has led Flew to a belief in God.”
Ian H. Hutchinson
“Antony Flew’s book will incense atheists who suppose (erroneously) that science proves there is no God.”
Francis S. Collins
“Towering and courageous... Flew’s colleagues in the church of fundamentalist atheism will be scandalized.”
Richard Swinburne
“A very clear and readable book tracing his path back to theism, revealing his total openness to new rational arguments.”
Huston Smith
“This is a remarkable book in many ways.”
John Hick
"This is a fascinating and very readable account …"
Michael Behe
“A stellar philosophical mind ponders the latest scientific results. The conclusion: a God stands behind the rationality of nature.”
Ralph McInerny
“Antony Flew not only has the philosophical virtues; he has the virtues of the philosopher. Civil in argument, relentlessly reasonable….”
Nicholas Wolterstorff
“A fascinating record …it will come as a most uncomfortable jolt to those who were once his fellow atheists.”
Daniel N. Robinson
“Flew’s exposition will be a source for reflective inquiry for many, many years...”
Professor John Hick
“This is a fascinating and very readable account …”
Booklist
“Flew couldn’t be more engaging and remain an analytic philosopher...”
American Spectator
“A most valuable and readable overview of the many evidential changes of landscape that 20th century science is furnishing to the oldest question in Western civilization: Is there a God?”
Denver Post
“In clear prose and brief chapters, Flew explains the four lines of evidence that convinced him....An intellectual conversion of great significance.”
The Catholic Herald
“The most lucid and penetrative pieces of philosophical theology to appear in years, altogether brilliant.”
Anthony Gottlieb
"Flew now thinks "the world picture ... that has emerged from modern science" points to an "infinite Intelligence" that brought the universe into being. He believes the fact that nature obeys precise mathematical laws, the fact that life and mind have emerged from inanimate matter, and the fact that the universe exists at all are best explained by positing a God."
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

British philosopher Flew has long been something of an evangelist for atheism, debating theologians and pastors in front of enormous crowds. In 2004, breathless news reports announced that the nonagenarian had changed his mind. This book tells why. Ironically, his arguments about the absurdity of God-talk launched a revival of philosophical theists, some of whom, like Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne, were important in Flew's recent conversion to theism. Breakthroughs in science, especially cosmology, also played a part: if the speed or mass of the electron were off just a little, no life could have evolved on this planet. Perhaps the arrogance of the "New Atheists" also emboldened him, as Flew taunts them for failing to live up to the greatness of atheists of yore. The book concludes with an appendix by New Testament scholar and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright, arguing for the coherence of Christian belief in the resurrection. Flew praises Wright, though he maintains some distance still from orthodox Christianity. The book will be most avidly embraced by traditional theists seeking argumentative ammunition. It sometimes disappoints: quoting other authorities at length, citing religion-friendly scientists for pages at a time and belaboring side issues, like the claim that Einstein was really a religious believer of sorts. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061335303
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/04/2008
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
376,090
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 7.92(h) x 0.62(d)

Read an Excerpt

There Is a God

How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
By Antony Flew

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Antony Flew
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061335297

Chapter One

The Creation of an Atheist

I was not always an atheist. I began life quite religiously. I was raised in a Christian home and attended a private Christian school. In fact, I am the son of a preacher.

My father was a product of Merton College, Oxford, and a minister of religion in the Wesleyan Methodist rather than the established church, the Church of England. Although his heart remained always in evangelism and, as Anglicans would say, in parish work, my own earliest memories of him are as tutor in New Testament studies at the Methodist theological college in Cambridge. Later he succeeded the head of that college and was to eventually retire and die in Cambridge. In addition to the basic scholarly and teaching duties of these offices, my father undertook a great deal of work as a Methodist representative in various interchurch organizations. He also served one-year terms as president of both the Methodist Conference and the Free Church Federal Council.

I would be hard-pressed to isolate or identify any signs in my boyhood of my later atheist convictions. In my youth, I attended Kingswood School in Bath, known informally as K.S. It was, and happilystill remains, a public boarding school (an institution of a kind that everywhere else in the English-speaking world would be described, paradoxically, as a private boarding school). It had been founded by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, for the education of the sons of his preachers. (A century or more after the foundation of Kingswood School, Queenswood School was founded in order to accommodate the daughters of Methodist preachers in the appropriately egalitarian way.)

I entered Kingswood as a committed and conscientious, if unenthusiastic, Christian . I could never see the point of worship and have always been far too unmusical to enjoy or even participate in hymn singing. I never approached any religious literature with the same unrestrained eagerness with which I consumed books on politics, history, science, or almost any other topic. Going to chapel or church, saying prayers, and all other religious practices were for me matters of more or less weary duty. Never did I feel the slightest desire to commune with God.

Why I should be—from my earliest memory—generally uninterested in the religious practices and issues that so shaped my father's world I cannot say. I simply don't recall feeling any interest or enthusiasm for such observances. Nor do I think I ever felt my mind enchanted or "my heart strangely warmed," to use Wesley's famous phrase, in Christian study or worship. Whether my youthful lack of enthusiasm for religion was a cause or effect—or both—who can say? But I can say that whatever faith I had when I entered K.S. was gone by the time I finished.

A theory of devolution

I am told that the Barna Group, a prominent Christian demographic polling organization, concluded from its surveys that in essence what you believe by the time you are thirteen is what you will die believing. Whether or not this finding is correct, I do know that the beliefs I formed in my early teenage years stayed with me for most of my adult life.

Just how and when the change began, I cannot remember precisely. But certainly, as with any thinking person, multiple factors combined in the creation of my convictions. Not the least among these factors was what Immanuel Kant called "an eagerness of mind not unbecoming to scholarship," which I believe I shared with my father. Both he and I were disposed to follow the path of "wisdom" as Kant described it: "It is wisdom that has the merit of selecting, from among innumerable problems that present themselves, those whose solution is important to humankind." My father's Christian convictions persuaded him that there could be nothing more "important to humankind" than the elucidation, propagation, and implementation of whatever is in truth the teaching of the New Testament. My intellectual journey took me in a different direction, of course, but one that was no less marked by the eagerness of mind I shared with him.

I also recall being most beneficially reminded by my father on more than one occasion that when biblical scholars want to become familiar with some peculiar Old Testament concept, they do not try to find an answer simply by thinking it through on their own. Instead, they collect and examine, with as much context as they can find, all available contemporary examples of the employment of the relevant Hebrew word. This scholarly approach in many ways formed the basis of my earliest intellectual explorations—and one I have yet to abandon—of collecting and examining, in context, all relevant information on a given subject. It is ironic, perhaps, that the household in which I grew up very likely instilled in me the enthusiasm for critical investigation that would eventually lead me to reject my father's faith.

The face of evil

I have said in some of my later atheist writings that I reached the conclusion about the nonexistence of God much too quickly, much too easily, and for what later seemed to me the wrong reasons. I reconsidered this negative conclusion at length and often, but for nearly seventy years thereafter I never found grounds sufficient to warrant any fundamental reversal. One of those early reasons for my conversion to atheism was the problem of evil.

My father took my mother and me on annual summer holidays abroad. Although these would not have been affordable on a minister's salary, they were made possible because my father often spent the early part of summer examining for the Higher School Certificate Examinations Board (now called A-level examinations) and had been paid for that work. We were also able to travel abroad cheaply since my father was fluent in German after two years of theological study in the University of Marburg before World War I. He was thus able to take us on holiday in Germany, and . . .



Continues...

Excerpted from There Is a God by Antony Flew Copyright © 2007 by Antony Flew. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Daniel N. Robinson
“Flew’s exposition will be a source for reflective inquiry for many, many years...”
Francis S. Collins
“Towering and courageous... Flew’s colleagues in the church of fundamentalist atheism will be scandalized.”
Huston Smith
“This is a remarkable book in many ways.”
John Polkinghorne
“A clear, accessible account of the ‘pilgrimage of reason’ which has led Flew to a belief in God.”
John Hick
“This is a fascinating and very readable account …”
Nicholas Wolterstorff
“A fascinating record …it will come as a most uncomfortable jolt to those who were once his fellow atheists.”
Michael Behe
“A stellar philosophical mind ponders the latest scientific results. The conclusion: a God stands behind the rationality of nature.”
Richard Swinburne
“A very clear and readable book tracing his path back to theism, revealing his total openness to new rational arguments.”
Ralph McInerny
“Antony Flew not only has the philosophical virtues; he has the virtues of the philosopher. Civil in argument, relentlessly reasonable….”
Ian H. Hutchinson
“Antony Flew’s book will incense atheists who suppose (erroneously) that science proves there is no God.”

Read More

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