Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Blog 1: There is a God

One of the most influential atheist philosophers of the twentieth century was a man called Antony Flew.  While a young grad student, he wrote a wildly popular paper called Theology and Falsification.  Not long after that, Flew became the leading defender of atheism in the philosophical world.


In an interesting turn of events in 2004, after 50 years of defending atheism, Flew changed his mind about God and became a deist.  This conversion was not without controversy.  Some, including Richard Dawkins, alleged that Flew had become senile.  I don't know if this is true.  But, in an interview about his conversion, Flew seemed a bit absent-minded, and I thought he was a little off-base with a few of his comments.

In 2007, Flew wrote a book with Roy Abraham Varghese called There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed his Mind.  It lays out the general case for the existence of God that Flew believes in.  Being a deist, he has much less to say about the specific characteristics of God than proponents of specific religions, such as Christianity.  This somewhat minimalist approach to describing God was fascinating and refreshing to me.


Flew is known for popularizing the presumption of atheism.  This is an idea that says that one should approach the question of the existence of God from the position of a lack of belief in God.  In other words, the proper starting point should be one with no prior belief in God.  Then, upon analyzing the arguments and evidence for and against God's existence, one should alter one's beliefs according to the strength of the evidence.

This method of following the evidence wherever it leads is what led Flew to believe in a God.

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