Famous Atheist Changed His Mind - Antony Flew
Of all the atheist philosophers who have lived in the past hundred years, Antony Flew was one of the most respected. Having spent a lifetime publishing philosophical arguments against theism, and having publicly debated respected theists such as William Lane Craig, there seemed little chance he would ever change his mind. However, he also stated his commitment to following the evidence wherever it leads. And it was likely this commitment which produced a shift in his thinking over two decades. He eventually concluded that there was an “infinite Intelligence” which accounts for certain facts about the world. In his book, There is a God, he describes this shift and the reasons behind it.
I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence. I believe that this universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source.
So what led to this shift in Flew's thinking? Why did he abandon his commitment to atheism?
The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science. Science spotlights three dimensions of nature that point to God. The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from matter. The third is the very existence of nature. But it is not science alone that has guided me. I have also been helped by a renewed study of the classical philosophical arguments…
You might ask how I, a philosopher, could speak to issues treated by scientists. The best way to answer this is with another question. Are we engaging in science or philosophy here? When you study the interaction of physical bodies, for instance, two subatomic particles, you are engaged in science. When you ask how it is that those subatomic particles – or anything physical – could exist and why, you are engaged in philosophy. When you draw philosophical conclusions from scientific data, then you are thinking as a philosopher.
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Antony Flew, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York; Enfield: HarperOne : Publishers Group UK distributor, 2008), 88–89.