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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About the Author
Philosopher and former atheist Antony Flew set the agenda for modern atheism with his 1950 essay "Theology and Falsification," which became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last half century. Flew has published over thirty books, including God and Philosophy, The Presumption of Atheism, and How to Think Straight. He spent twenty years as professor of philosophy at the University of Keele and has also held positions at Oxford, the University of Aberdeen, and the University of Reading. He now lives in Reading, England.
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There Is a God
How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
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 happily still 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 inorder 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 . . .There Is a God
How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Copyright © by Antony Flew. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
My Denial of the Divine 7
The Creation of an Atheist 9
Where the Evidence Leads 31
Atheism Calmly Considered 65
My Discovery of the Divine 83
A Pilgrimage of Reason 85
Who Wrote the Laws of Nature? 95
Did the Universe Know We Were Coming? 113
How Did Life Go Live? 123
Did Something Come from Nothing? 133
Finding Space for God 147
Open to Omnipotence 155
The "New Atheism": A Critical Appraisal of Dawkins, Dennett, Wolpert, Harris, and Stenger Roy Abraham Varghese 161
The Self-Revelation of God in Human History: A Dialogue on Jesus with N.T. Wright 185
What People are Saying About This
“Flew’s exposition will be a source for reflective inquiry for many, many years...”
“Towering and courageous... Flew’s colleagues in the church of fundamentalist atheism will be scandalized.”
“This is a remarkable book in many ways.”
“A clear, accessible account of the ‘pilgrimage of reason’ which has led Flew to a belief in God.”
“This is a fascinating and very readable account …”
“A fascinating record …it will come as a most uncomfortable jolt to those who were once his fellow atheists.”
“A stellar philosophical mind ponders the latest scientific results. The conclusion: a God stands behind the rationality of nature.”
“A very clear and readable book tracing his path back to theism, revealing his total openness to new rational arguments.”
“Antony Flew not only has the philosophical virtues; he has the virtues of the philosopher. Civil in argument, relentlessly reasonable….”
“Antony Flew’s book will incense atheists who suppose (erroneously) that science proves there is no God.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is actually really good. Just because people say that they obviously know more about the bible, and there theistic background doesn't even mean that they get to know everything about God's existence and their theistic background. Very good book.
Wasn't exactly the content that I thought it was going to be. I doubt it will convince very many people who don't already peripherally believe.
This book debunked atheism
If any book could change my mind ... it won't be this one. The prose is so dense in places I found myself skim reading, which meant I lost the thread of the author's arguments, and by the end didn't really care about it at all. Here's a classic passage. Try to read it without your eyes glazing over."The nerve of the distinction between the movings involved in an action and the motions that constitute necessitated behavior is that the latter behavior is physically necessitated, wheras the sense, the direction, and the character of actions as such are that, as a matter of logic, they necessarily cannot be physically necessitated (and as a matter of brute fact, they are not)."Huh?In fact, the best reason to get hold of this book is for the appendix at the back in which New Testament scholar N.T. Wright answers the following questions: 1) What grounds are there for claiming, from the texts, that Jesus is God Incarnate? and 2) What evidence is there for the resurrection of Christ?N.T. Wright's answers to these questions provide a neat and tidy summary of his general theological position, for which I happen to have a great deal of respect. So instead of wading through his books you could start right here. It is Wright who challenges me the most and I'd recommend this appendix for believers and non-believers alike.
Excellent book on Antony Flew's journey into militant atheism, and his ultimate journey out. After objectively and truthfully evaluating all of the evidences, the DNA evidence, the cosmological evidence, the philosophical evidence, and more, he came to the ultimate truth that "There IS a God".
Love this Book Nice, hmm
Flew has written many books that rank high on the list of insightful, intellectual and informative philosophy. Unfortunately, his latest book falls well short. A lifetime of philosophical expertise, and the best argument Flew can advance for the existence of God is "The watch and the watchmaker"? The quality of his arguments are more like one would see on Facebook, rather than a professional Christian Apologist, and nowhere close to his former works. I was very disappointed.
The brilliant thing about this book is that, as an account of an atheist accepting a metaphysical element to the story of the Universe, it will be embraced by religious thinkers -- but those who read Flew's logic will be drawn away from primitive theistic faiths and towards an enlightened pandeism, belief in a Creator of the Universe that exists as the Universe itself, and does not interfere with its goings-on.
Well worth the money