Item description for There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew & Roy Abraham Varghese...
Overview In one of the biggest religion news stories of the new millennium, Professor Flew, a leading atheist, announces he now believes in God. In this book, a brilliant mind and reasoned thinker reveals where his lifelong intellectual pursuit eventually led him: belief in God as designer.
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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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.04" Width: 5.43" Height: 0.63" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Nov 14, 2014
ISBN 0061335304 ISBN13 9780061335303
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More About Antony Flew & Roy Abraham Varghese
Antony Flew is emeritus professor of philosophy in the University of Reading, England. He has also served as visiting professor in institutions in North America, Africa, and Australia. He has published much on many different philosophical questions, especially those of interest both to academic philosophers and to a wider public.
Reviews - What do customers think about There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind?
Following the argument where it leads Jun 7, 2008
It's the rare intellectual--and especially the rare philosopher (I speak as a member of that strange tribe, by the way)--who's courageous enough to publicly admit error. In his old age, Augustine famously penned a series of Retractions that pruned and corrected his earlier writings. The twentieth century philosopher Wittgenstein eventually repudiated his first work, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. But for every Augustine and Wittgenstein, there are scores of philosophers who become wedded to their systems and simply can't bring themselves to doubt--much less repudiate--cherished conclusions.
That's one reason why Antony Flew's There Is a God is a remarkable work. Whether or not one buys his argument, one can't but admire his insistence on "following the argument where it leads," a bit of Socratic advice which Flew has made his professional motto, even when it leads him to reject positions he earlier championed. The positions which he now rejects are, specifically, that there is no God; that causation is best understood in Humean terms; and that compatibilism is the best way to navigate the free will/determinism debate.
Flew's purpose in There Is a God is to present arguments for his new conclusion that there's evidence to suppose the existence of a divine First Cause. Ultimately, his point is that in the absence of a God, one must settle for mystifying and implausible conceptual leaps. His critics might say that he's simply appealing to a "God of the gaps" move, and perhaps they're correct. But Flew would respond by challenging them to explain, in non-question begging ways, (1) why nature is lawlike (did laws emerge, or did they have to be existent for cosmological events to occur in the first place?), (2) how end-directed and self-replicating life emerged from matter (Flew accepts a neo-Aristotelian understanding of telos), and (3) how nature itself came into being (why is there something rather than nothing?). These, Flew argues, are the types of questions that must be addressed philosophically. Cosmological and biological data are relevant in their investigation, but the questions themselves can't be adequately answered by addressing them as "hows," but rather only as "whys."
Flew's book has generated an enormous amount of heated and sometimes ugly controversy. The militant New Atheists, led by Richard Dawkins, claim that Flew is senile and that the book was ghost written by Roy Abraham Varghese. Christians insist that the book shows that Flew has converted to their faith. Flew, while acknowledging that he's old and that Varghese did much of the actual writing, insists that the book contains his own ideas. To Christian enthusiasts, he insists that he's a deist rather than a theist, and that he hasn't converted to Christianity. How unfortunate that the current theism/atheism debate has become so polemical and recriminatory that all sides have great difficulty following the argument where it leads with civility and grace. The goal seems to be winning a debate rather than discovering truth.
The simplest answer to life's oldest question May 18, 2008
I remember seeing the headlines in late 2004/early 2005. One of the world's most famous atheists, Anthony Flew, had declared his belief in "a God". This was a major coup for the theists in the atheism versus theism battle. So, when I saw the book "There Is No A God" had been published, I had to get it. I had to see what new evidence had persuaded one of the most prominent philosophers of our time. Anthony Flew was an atheist for more than 60 years. He spent time debating Christian apologists (including presenting papers to C.S. Lewis. You may know that C.S. Lewis was, at one time a pretty staunch atheist before he became of the best known apologists for Christianity. I want to know what makes men like that tick; men who are willing to completely change their views on something as critical on whether or not there is a God based on reason and logic.
The subtitle of the book is "How the world's most notorious atheist changed his mind". The book begins at the beginning- talking about Flew's youth, his days in school and what led him to being an atheist in the first place. His father was a minister. So, he did not start off as an atheist. But, in his teens he had already decided there was no God. The book takes through his formation as an atheist and the reasoning that led him there. Early on in life, he decided to "follow the evidence wherever it may lead", which is a Socratic principle. When I made that commitment to myself a couple of decades ago, I didn't know it was a Socratic principle. But, I decided that I would pursue truth above all else, even if it led me away from Christianity. It's fascinating that the same commitment that led Flew away from being a theist over 60 years later brought him right back.
The book is written in language a layperson can understand. I've struggled to read some philosophers as they speak their own language and even seem to use their own logic. However, Flew and his co-author Roy Varghese speak in language the common man can understand. Flew's "religion" would probably be called Deism. He is not a Christian, even though he has acknowledged that the Christian argument for revealed religion is probably stronger than any other. Flew's religion is not "revealed" and is not based on either faith or personal experience. He came to the conclusion that there is a God simply based on logic/reason/philosophy although recent scientific discoveries (including the Big Bang theory) certainly helped. Actually, the core of Flew's argument, IMO is the fact that there is something rather than nothing. He goes on to talk about the fact that there seems to be a goal or a design to life, talks about the rising of the living from the non-living and the intelligent from the supposedly non-intelligent. In each case, he tells why materialism/atheism simply doesn't work to answer the questions that a simple acknowledgment of a Creator answers. IMO just the fact that there is something rather than nothing means that there has always been something because every effect must have a cause. Nothing exists completely independently of everything else. Materialists choose to believe the universe has always existed and have come up with some fanciful and intellectually dishonest ways of explaining how something can come from "nothing" (like "nothing" is unstable and kind of decays into "something") or the multiverse theory which attempts to explain the fine-tuning of the universe with the theory that there are an infinite or almost infinite number of universes. I've actually come to the conclusion it takes a lot more faith to be a true atheist (as opposed to an agnostic) than it takes to be a "believer". Some philosophers get themselves so twisted up that they begin to doubt the existence of their very selves and their own minds. As one philosopher said to another in the book some of their theories don't really require refutation. If they actually believe the stuff they say, they need help. If your philosophy causes you to doubt your own existence or the existence of your mind, it's time to put down the books and get back to the real world.
The description of Flew's journey from atheism to theism is followed by two appendices. The first is a refutation of the "new atheism" which is really a rehashing of materialism or positivism and is nothing new. The second is a defense of the divine relevation of Christianity. I didn't find this defense to be particularly strong and I'm kind of surprised Flew does. But, when it comes to believing in a Divine Mind, a Creator, a First Cause, I think Flew shows conclusively this is exactly where the evidence leads us. Whether one chooses to call this "God" or not is a matter of preference. But, there is sufficient reason to believe that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Being does indeed exist and to believe so doesn't require a great leap of "faith" or really any faith at all other than the faith to honestly follow the evidence where it leads.
Nothing new May 11, 2008
I read this book with the idea that Antony Flew really had something new to add to things. I was wrong. And disappointed. The cosmological arguments for a deity - and not even a deity really but just some kind of intelligence that brought the universe into being, some kind of extraterrestrial something about which nothing else specific can really be said, are not, to me, compelling. And Flew's book does not make them any more compelling. I think the Deists were in a much better position in the old days before it was understood that organic chemistry did not involve some "vital essence" and there was really nothing other than some kind of supernatural/spooky basis for life and living things. But with that gone, explaining the fine structure constant and such is an exercise in "what ifs." One might as well believe in Star Trek's "Q" and that such beings made our universe for sheer boredom relief. Flew does OK rehashing the usual cosmological stuff but there's nothing really new here.
So a guy can't change his mind? Apr 15, 2008
This is a great little book.
Tough going for one not involved the details of the controversy though - Flew hits the high points of the various arguments but I think I'm going to have to read a few of the materials he references to really get a handle on his point of view.
In any case, the controversy seems a tad amusing to me from afar. Flew simply changed his mind on the existance of god after many years of thought. This is just his short, interesting and well considered view of matters. The tone of some of the reviews is awfully strident. On the subject of god's existance no one's got a lock; as Randy Newman sang, "there ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy, there's only you and me and we just disagree."
Interesting Apr 11, 2008
This was a very interesting book, depicting the journey of a confirmed atheist as he searched for evidence of the existence of God. He doesn't confess to having become a Christian, but finding evidence which he believes proves there is a God.
Highly philosophical this book is sometimes a bit hard to understand, but it worth the effort. It is a great book to share with other atheists as they will often take time to consider the musings of a peer.