In 1919 Babe Ruth was sold from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, and it took 85 years for the Red Sox to win another World Series. It happened in 2004. Antony Flew tells us that it was the same year that he, one of the world’s most famous atheists, switched teams to a belief in God. Flew, son of a famous Methodist theologian, tells the odyssey of his journey from faith to atheism and then back to belief in the existence of God in his book There is a God.
Anyone read this book? Any thoughts?
Flew’s book is breathtakingly exciting — and what marks this book above others I’ve read is the coolness and rhetorical patience as the book gently trots along. Something like this: My father was a famous Methodist leader, I became an atheist, we didn’t talk much about it, I gave a lecture in CS Lewis’ famous Socratic Club, my work became well known, I began to see problems for atheism, and I learned this from so-and-so and that from so-and-so and …
“I have followed the argument where it has led me. And it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being” (155). Gone is the caustic insults of a Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris; absent is ridicule of those who don’t think as Flew thinks; present is a rational humility and a proper confidence.
This is not an extensive book; it is to theism/deism what CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity is to Christian faith. Solid, crisp, clear, EB White kind of prose. The occasional analogy. It’s about the infinitely intelligent Mind, the Mind of God. “Some have made contact with this Mind. I have not — yet. But who knows what could happen next? Someday I might hear a Voice that says, ‘Can you hear me now?'” (158)
Does he believe in the Christian faith? He includes in this book a dialogue he had with Tom Wright, and this section by Tom Wright is the best prose I’ve ever read in Wright — and he’s a great writer. But we’re talking here about Flew and this is what he concludes about Christianityi: “If you’re wanting omnipotence to set up a religion, it seems to me that this is the one to beat!”
What are the big arguments that led Flew to change his mind? The laws of nature, life with its teleological organization, and the existence of the universe.
Today I will participate in a TV interview about the rise of new atheism. I’m glad I read this book first.