The New Atheists and Remembering A Notorious Atheists’ Prayer/Part 3

By: Dr. John G. Weldon; ©2011
Dr. Anthony Flew (who, like Sartre, became an atheist around 15) was one of the worlds leading atheists.)

The Conversion of the Notorious Dr. Flew

My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 per cent agree with….That is my book and it represents my thinking.” – Dr. Anthony Flew [1]

Dr. Anthony Flew (who, like Sartre, became an atheist around 15) was one of the worlds leading atheists and some have even called him, “the world’s most influential philosophical atheist” and “one of the most renowned atheists of the 20th Century.”[2] (Not many atheists had his intellectual stature. He was also a contemporary of CS Lewis and a member of the Oxford University Socratic Club that Lewis chaired. In the Introduction to his book he referred to Lewis as “the greatest Christian apologist of the last century.”) As such, he may it be considered an atheist par excellence. He taught at the universities of Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele and Reading and also at York University in Toronto. He was influenced by the noted Jewish philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was, incidentally, a believer in Christ resurrection. As Roy Abraham Varghese points out, 30 professional publications more or less set the agenda of atheism for the subsequent half-century. Dr. Flew was at a minimum a distinguished and leading analytical philosopher of the 20th century and a militant atheist for most of his life; few have had as much influence in the academic world and eventually broader culture for the cause of atheism. (His conversion to theism reminds me of how God often uses his enemies for His particular glory, such as the Egyptian Pharaoh through the Israeli Exodus, simultaneously bringing judgment upon the Egyptian deities. “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17) Indeed, few are there today who haven’t heard of the Jewish Exodus, their salvation from the waters of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.

Nevertheless, once Dr. Flew went public with his conversion to theism in 2004, the “hard secularist” academia and media were in a frenzy of sorts with reports, complaints and commentaries on radio, TV and the Internet around the world, somewhat of reminiscent of the Pharaoh. Many people just couldn’t believe it and some even went so far as to claim that Dr. Flew’s 2007 book, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind was never actually his, but in truth fabricated by Roy Abraham Varghese, a truly desperate position publicly repudiated by both Dr. Flew and Varghese.[3]

Regardless, many of Dr. Flew’s former atheist colleagues became almost hysterical – he who was once such a considered friend all of a sudden became an implacable enemy and he received brutal insults, terrible caricatures and worse from the blogosphere. “Freethinkers” and skeptics” (like the hard left) seem more than content when things are going their way, but scratch too far and hard below the surface and it becomes painfully evident that the primary freedom they cherish is for themselves and their worldview, not their opponents and opposing views. The standard bearer of atheism had become the quintessential heretic, deserving shunning at a minimum and in many quarters the intellectual modern equivalent of burning at the stake.

Even in 2011 one can find atheists continuing to repeat the Embarrassing Myth arguing Dr. Flew’s conversion to theism along the lines of revisionist history as noted above. Again, Flew never actually converted they say; and he was too sick mentally to know what he was doing; at best he was confused due to dementia. Roy Abraham Varghese took advantage of this and wrote the award-winning There Is a God, putting words in the mouth of Dr. Flew to invent his conversion, much like skeptics say Jesus own disciples put words into Jesus mouth to “an” Christianity. Jesus became the invention of the early disciples and the apostle Paul, becoming transformed into the Jewish Messiah, atoning Savior from sin and Son of God incarnate; in a similar fashion, foremost atheist of 60 years Dr. Anthony Flew became a theist defending the existence of God and admiring Christianity.

But facts are facts and in neither case was the argument credible or possible. To put it mildly, “The advocates of tolerance were not themselves very tolerant. And, apparently, religious zealots don’t have a monopoly on dogmatism, incivility, fanaticism, and paranoia.”[4] Not to mention mythmaking and desperation.

Read Part 4

Notes

  1. Anthony Flew, June 4, 2008, Cited in “Flew Speaks out: Professor Anthony Flew Reviews The God Delusion; http://www.bethinking.org/science-christianity/intermediate/flew-speaks-out-professor-antony-flew-reviews-the-god-delusion.htm. Because of Dr. Flew’s advanced age, Roy Abraham Varghese did actually write the book, but the words and ideas are those of Dr. Flew.
  2. Dr. Anthony Flew, Dr. Gary Habermas, “My Pilgrimage from Atheism Theism: an Exclusive Interview with Former British Atheist Professor”; prepublication copy December 9, 2004, introduction by Philosophia Christi editor, Craig J. Hazen PhD; published in Philosophia Christi, Winter 2005 (www.biola.edu/philchristi)
  3. Read some of the reviews at Amazon.com and see Varghese’s personal reply at Roy Abraham Varghese, “There Is a God,” New York Times Book Review, January 13, 2008; ^ <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/books/review/Letters-t.html>) Dr. Flew’s letter was written June 4, 2008: bethinking.org replied: “This is a serious charge to which Professor Flew responded and which he reiterated in a recent letter (dated 4th June 2008) to a friend of UCCF [Christian Unions: http://www.uccf.org.uk/] who has shown it to us.”
  4. Anthony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, 2007, VIII, Preface by Roy Abraham Varghese, VIII

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