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Famed Atheist Philosopher, Antony Flew, Now a Theist/Deist

Antony Flew Conversion

Edward: Famed lifelong atheist philosopher, Antony Flew (age 81),has become a theist / deist. The London TIMES had this to say about Flewʼs recent conversion: “He [Flew] is unlikely to proclaim his faith from a pulpit. He is still not a Christian and dismisses the conventional forms of divinity as ‘the monstrous oriental despots of the religions of Christianity and Islam.’ He also stands by his rejection of an afterlife.”

Flew:Iʼm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins,” he said. “It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose.”

In his lengthiest inteview thus far about his theism (an interview with Liberty University Christian apologist Gary Habermas), Flew had this to add:

Habermas: “In your view, then, God hasnʼt done anything about evil.”

Flew: No, not at all, other than producing a lot of it…

Habermas: Are you any closer to thinking that the resurrection could have been a historical fact?

Flew: No, I donʼt think so… What we do not have is evidence from anyone who was in Jerusalem at the time, who witnessed one of the allegedly miraculous events, and recorded his or her testimony immediately after the occurrence of that allegedly miraculous event. In the 1950s and 1960s I heard several suggestions from hard-bitten young Australian and American philosophers of conceivable miracles the actual occurrence of which, it was contended, no one could have overlooked or denied. Why, they asked, if God wanted to be recognized and worshipped, did God not produce a miracle of this unignorable and undeniable kind?”… [According to Luke-Acts, the raised Jesusʼ ascension into heaven was only witnessed by the eleven apostles, and even Luke-Acts admits that there was no preaching of “the resurrection” until seven weeks after the crucifixion.]

Habermas: Do you think that there is any chance that you might in the end move from theism to Christianity?

Flew: I think itʼs very unlikely, due to the problem of evil. But, if it did happen, I think it would be in some eccentric fit and doubtfully orthodox form: regular religious practice perhaps but without belief. If I wanted any sort of future life I should become a Jehovahʼs Witness [because at least their paradise involves corporeal persons; and Flew said earlier in the interview: “I think those who want to speak about an afterlife have got to meet the difficulty of formulating a concept of an incorporeal person… it is simply impossible to create a concept of an incorporeal spirit… Swinburne and I had been the only Gifford lecturers to treat the question of a future life for the sixty years past. Even more remarkably, Swinburne in his Gifford Lectures ignored Bishop Butlerʼs decisive observation: ‘Memory may reveal but cannot constitute personal identity.’”

One should also note that in the realm of philosophy, many theistic philosophers as well as Christian theistic philosophers, have been unable to agree on quite a lot of questions. See Contemporary Debates in the Philosophy of Religion (2003) by Michael Peterson, managing editor of the journal Faith and Philosophy, published by the Society of Christian Philosophers. Here are some questions from that book, questions on which theistic philosophers disagree:

  • Can Only One Religion Be True?

  • How to Sink in Cognitive Quicksand: Nuancing Religious Pluralism: Keith E.Yandell (University of Wisconsin)

  • It Is Not Reasonable to Believer that Only One Religion is True: Peter Byrne (Kingʼs College, University of London)

  • Does God Take Risks in Governing the World?

  • God Takes Risks: William Hasker (Huntington College)

  • God Does Not Take Risks: Paul Helm (Regent College)

  • Does God Respond to Petitionary Prayer?

  • God Responds to Prayer: Michael J. Murray (Franklin and Marshall College)

  • God Does Not Necessarily Respond to Prayer: David Basinger (Roberts Wesleyan College)

  • Is Eternal Damnation Compatible with the Christian Concept of God?

  • Eternal Hell and the Christian Concept of God: Jerry Walls (Asbury Theological Seminary)

  • No Hell: Thomas Talbott (Willamette University)

  • Is Morality Based on Godʼs Commands?

  • Divine Commands Are the Foundation of Morality: Janine Marie Idziak (Loras College)

    Ethics Is Based on Natural Law: Craig A. Boyd (Greenville College) and Raymond J. VanArragon (Asbury College)

  • Should a Christian Be a Mind-Body Dualist?

  • Christians Should Affirm Mind-Body Dualism: Dean W. Zimmerman (Rutgers University)

  • Christians Should Reject Mind-Body Dualism: Lynne Rudder Baker (University of Massachusetts)


In a letter to Philosophy Now magazine (Issue 47, August/September 2004, p. 22) Flew noted that “It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.” Flew then recommends two books: “The first book is Roy Abraham Vargheseʼs “The Wonderful World: A Journey from Modern Science to the Mind of God” (Fountain Hills, Arizona: Tyr Publishing, 2003). The second book is Gerald L. Schroederʼs The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth (Touchstone, New York 2001).”

“Gerald Schroederʼs” name also came up in Flewʼs interview with Habermas in which Flew said: “I am open to [the notion of theistic revelation], but not enthusiastic about potential revelation from God. On the positive side, for example, I am very much impressed with physicist Gerald Schroederʼs comments on Genesis 1. That this biblical account might be scientifically accurate raises the possibility that it is revelation.” (Original Source: La Mirada, Calif., Dec. 9/PRNewswire)

Questioning Flewʼs Praise of the Works of “Gerald Schroeder”

Schroederʼs attempts to discover direct concordances between Genesis and modern science are far from satisfactory in the view of many of his fellow scientists, so I hope Flew will look into such matters a bit deeper. For instance, Schroederʼs claim about how much genetic change it would take to create human beings is wrong. According to the latest data, “The difference between human and chimp genomes is only about 1.23%, rather than 1.4% as originally thought.”

Even more importantly, if man and chimp diverged from a common ancestor, you must half those differences yet again. In fact the differences between human and chimp genomes are less than that between the genomes of near identical sibling species of fruit flies. And there is even evidence in human chromosome #2 that points to it being the result of a fusion of two chromosomes that very closely resemble two chromosomes found in the chimpanzees, whose banding patterns line up band for band to those inside human chromosome #2. Moreover, human chromosome #2 still contains remnants of that fusion process—in the form of a faint second centromere (there is almost always just one centromere per chromosome, found in its middle, not two centromeres), and reversed teleomeric sequences in the middle of that chromosome (telomeres are almost always found at the tips of chromosomes, not in the middle, and not in reverse order, hence finding them in the middle of a chromosome means that portion used to be the tip or end of a second chromosome).

Here are some reviews of Schroederʼs books that perhaps Flew might like to acquaint himself with before lending any more praises to Schroederʼs work: Frank Sonleitner,Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman OK 73019 reviews Schroederʼs The Science of God:

Source: www.ncseweb.org/

“This book is essentially an elaboration and update of Schroederʼs earlier book Genesis and the Big Bang published in 1990. Schroeder is an Israeli physicist who has also extensively studied biblical interpretation. He uses the arguments of the Anthropic principle (the Big Bang and the fine-tuning of the universal constants) as evidence for God; but he also insists that the Bible and science agree. Genesis is not to be taken literally nor dismissed as poetry but must be interpreted correctly following the lead of talmudic scholars such as Nahmanides and Maimonides. Although his interpretation twists, stretches, and sometimes directly contradicts the literal meaning of Genesis, it confirms all the findings of modern cosmology and geology.

“Using a universal time clock based on the stretching of the wavelengths of light as the universe expands, he concludes that the universe is 15.75 billion years old. The six days of Genesis consist of a nonlinear day-age description of the history; day 1 covers the first 8 billion years, and day 6 only the last 1/4 billion.

“Schroeder accepts the standard geologic and paleontologic history of the earth but he balks at evolution (although he admits some sort of genetic continuity as suggested by the evidence of comparative anatomy, biochemistry and embryonic recapitulation). He rejects all transitional forms among higher categories such as classes and phyla, but later admits that there might be transitional forms within classes. (He does discuss the recently discovered intermediate forms of whales.)

“Schroeder rejects evolution because he considers its mechanism to rest solely on pure chance. There is no discussion of natural selection; it doesnʼt appear in the index although the term is used in passing while discussing Dawkins. His “proof” that it is impossible for convergent evolution to produce similar eyes in taxa which did not inherit these structures from a common ancestor uses a mathematical calculation based on two assumptions - (1) evolution is pure chance; and (2) the taxa have no genes in common except those “inherited” from the protozoa. Yet in other places he seems to be aware of the recent evidence that the phyla have many genes in common; he discusses the Hox genes that determine body plans and the Pax genes that are involved in eye formation!

“Schroeder admits that there were “pre-Adamites” (Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals) living for 40 000 years prior to Adam, but questions the existence of earlier hominid species because of the fragmentary nature of their fossils. Again he uses a mathematical model to show that the evolution of humans from an ape ancestor is impossible. This model also assumes that (1) evolution would occur by pure chance and (2) one million mutations would be necessary to produce the ape-human transition! “It takes more than the Big Bang and the fine tuning of universal constants to demonstrate that the creator is the kind, loving, personal God worshipped by Christians. And there Schroederʼs arguments fall apart. For example, he argues that quantum mechanics provides the basis of free will and that the determinacy of our genes does not prevent our exercising free will, yet later he says that randomness in nature (including random mutations) is necessary for free will! And natural disasters are necessary. We must suffer earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that result from plate tectonics made possible by the earthʼs molten core because the latter is necessary to generate a magnetic field to protect us from the high energy radiation produced by the life-giving sun. But then he says that the biblical Creator could have made stars that didnʼt produce those lethal rays but “they would not be natural” and would offer absolute testimony of the Creatorʼs existence! And still later he contradicts this principle (that the universe is organized “naturally” to hide the existence of the Creator) by saying that the earth is at an “unnatural” distance from the sun and hints that this may be miraculous! (According to Schroeder some exponential law determines the distance of the planets, and the earthʼs distance does not fit the pattern.)

“Evolutionists will justifiably criticize Schroeder for his simplistic and inconsistent treatment of evolution while the real creationists will reject him for his theology which includes rejection of the literal reading of Genesis, acceptance of the Big Bang, an old age for the earth, existence of pre-Adamites, a local flood, and ignoring Christ, Christianity and the New Testament.”


Victor J. Stenger, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii. Review of Schroederʼs The Science of God:

“How can both the Bible and science be right? Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder says he can show us how. Letʼs start with cosmology. The Bible says God created the universe in six days and indicates the passage of only about 6,000 years since then. Science currently estimates the visible universe to be about 13 billion years old, give or take a few billion. Schroeder reconciles the two, explaining that the six days of the Bible refer to a different measure of time. He explains: “there is no possible way for those first six days to have an Earth-based perspective simply because for the first two of those six days there was no Earth” (51). “Instead, time during this six day period was measured on a cosmic clock. And what else could be used for that clock but the vibrations of light (electromagnetic waves)? Today the light from creation appears as the cosmic microwave background. This is now redshifted by a factor of a trillion (1012) from the period of “quark confinement” when matter as we know it first began to form. Thus the cosmic clock at that epoch ran off a trillion days for each of our modern days. The six cosmic days of creation thus took about 15 billion years earth time, give or take a few billion. So, according to the author, Genesis is not only consistent with cosmology, it gives the correct age of the universe!

“Each of the six days in Schroederʼs Genesis actually takes a different length of earth time. The duration D, in earth days, of each cosmic day t is calculated from the formula D = (Ao/L)exp(-Lt), where Ao = 4x1012 (the ratio of the frequencies of the cosmic microwave background at quark confinement compared to now) and L = 0.693 (natural log of 2). More simply, cosmic day one is 8 billion earth years long and you divide by two to get the duration of each succeeding cosmic day. “Cosmic day one starts 15.75 billion earth years ago and covers the creation of the universe, the “breaking free” of light as electrons bind to atomic nuclei, and the beginning of galaxy formation. This is described in Gen. 1:1-5 as the creation followed by light separating from the darkness.

“Cosmic day two starts 7.75 billion earth years ago and lasts four billion earth years. During this period the stars and galaxies are born. This corresponds to Gen. 1:6-8, the formation of the heavenly firmament. “Cosmic day three starts 3.75 billion earth years ago. During two billion earth years, the earth cools, water appears, and the first life forms appear. In Gen. 1:9-13, vegetation first appears during the third day. “Cosmic day four starts 1.75 billion earth years ago and lasts a billion earth years. The earthʼs atmosphere becomes transparent and photosynthesis produces an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Schroeder says that this corresponds to Gen. 1:14-19 when “the Sun, Moon, and stars become visible in the heavens” (67).

“Cosmic day five starts 750 million earth years ago and lasts 500 million earth years. During this period, the first multicellular animals appear and the oceans swarm with life. Gen. 1:20-23 says the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures and “birds fly above the earth” (94). “Cosmic day six starts 250 million years ago and ends at the time of Adam. During this period we have a massive extinction in which 90 percent of life is destroyed and then repopulated with humanoids and humans. This, Schroeder says, corresponds to what is described in Gen. 1:24-31. “Technically, Schroederʼs formula gives the present as the end of the sixth day. However, it could just as well have ended a few thousand years ago and not affect the rest of the calculation where things are rounded off at hundreds of millions of years. Schroeder argues that after the six cosmic days of creation, Genesis switches its focus over to humanity and starts measuring time in human terms. The rest of the Bible concerns itself with the 6,000 earth years since Adam and Eve, estimated from the Bible in Bishop Ussher fashion.

“Schroeder does not deny the existence of hominid creatures before Adam. He talks about Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, and accepts that they had developed tools, pottery, and many human-like qualities. In Lev. 11:33 the Bible talks about pottery. But, Schroeder argues that since it never mentions the invention of pottery, that event must have pre-dated Adam (130).

“According to the author, the Bible has no interest in these pre-Adam hominids because they were not yet fully human and had no souls. Thus they are never mentioned. Adam represents the quantitative change to a large brain, but more important, the qualitative change that makes us different from all other forms of life: “our soul of human spirituality” (133). God breathed this into Adam, the first real human, 6,000 years ago. “Schroederʼs attempt to connect 31 lines of Genesis to big-bang cosmology and earth paleontology makes entertaining reading, but will convince no one who is not already convinced or totally lacking of critical facilities.

“Let us return to the beginning. Schroederʼs use of quark confinement as the defining moment for his cosmic time scale is completely arbitrary. He seems to have chosen it for no better reason than it gives the answer he wants. The redshift from quark confinement to the present is of the order of 1012. Multiplying this by six days gives 15 billion years, which is consistent with our current estimate for the age of the universe. “Alternatively, Schroeder might have chosen the moment in the early universe called “decoupling,” which represents the point where radiation separates from matter. Indeed, he relates this event to the separation of the “light from the darkness” described in Genesis day one. But the redshift from decoupling to the present is only of the order of 1,000, which would give an earth time interval of only fifteen years for the six cosmic days of creation. If he had chosen some other moment, he would have obtained yet a different time scale.

“Furthermore, by Schroederʼs own formula the universe creation corresponds to the time of quark confinement. Blueshifting back from that point rather than redshifting ahead, the events prior to quark confinement would recede infinitely into the past, in earth time, and we would have no creation at all.

“Schroederʼs use of an exponential function to give different earth periods for each cosmic day is not justified by his argument that earth time is simply redshifted cosmic time. While an exponential relationship would apply for the inflationary epoch in the early universe, that has ended by the time of quark confinement. Afterwards we have the almost linear Hubble expansion in which the redshift varies as a power law with time, not exponentially. By having each cosmic day half as long as the preceding one in earth years, again a completely arbitrary, unjustified procedure, Schroeder is able to vaguely relate events known from cosmology to those described in Genesis.

“In cosmic day two the “firmament” is created. Note that Schroeder excludes from the “firmament” all galaxies more than 7.75 billion light years away, of which there are many. Furthermore, he sees no problem with calling the expanding universe a “firmament.” Like all apologists, he selects his data carefully, accepting only those which agree with his hypotheses and discarding those which do not.

“Primitive life first appears in cosmic day three. Here again it takes some mighty stretching to associate what is described in the Bible for the third day, including fruit trees, with the primitive life described by paleontology for that epoch.

“Schroeder has the sun, moon, and stars becoming visible in cosmic day four. In fact, Genesis seems to say the that sun, moon, and stars are created at that time - well after the earth was created.

“Cosmic day five has the waters teeming with life. But the biblical verses imply birds as well. Schroeder says that “birds” is a mistranslation and that the Bible here is referring to water insects instead. Translation is so easy when you know what you want a passage to say.

“Cosmic day six contains the mass extinctions of life that occurred 65 million years ago. The biblical verses referenced make no mention of mass extinction. The Biblical Flood occurs well after Adam, but Schroeder needs to end the six days of creation with Adam for other purposes. This is one event he simply cannot make fit, although he is not honest enough to say so and leaves the impression that everything is consistent.

“At times you get the impression that this book is a parody, with quite a few good chuckles when read in that context. However, the sections on evolution soon convince you that no parody is intended. They are just too unfunny, too dull. Schroeder trots out all the old, tiresome arguments about why “life could not have stared by chance” and how the simplest forms, even viruses, are “far too complex to have originated without there being an inherent chemical property of molecular self-organization and/or reaction enhancing catalysts at every step of their development” (85). He applies the usual creationist deception of calculating chance probabilities as if chance is the only operative mechanism, and then saying this “proves” that God intervenes along the way when they come out very low. And, of course, the “staccato aspect of the fossil record” refutes classical evolution. “These rapid changes cannot be explained by purely random mutations at the molecular-genetic level” (87).

“Notice how often theists tell us that something cannot be explained except by God? They never seem to learn from history.”

Revised Title: The Delusions of Gerald Schroeder, December 5, 1997


A young-earth creationist Amazon reviewer of The Science of God:

“I find many of his interpretations manipulated to his own cause, e.g. Gen. 1:12 which he interprets: “and the earth brought forth life.” A more reliable interpretation of the text renders: “and the earth(or land) brought forth vegetation.” Further, he cites no credible Hebrew scholar who agrees with his interpretation of day for order and night for chaos. He relies much more for his case on the mystical kabbalah, especially Nahmanides, which can only be explained at best as “opinion.” This leaves him in positions which do not square with all of inspired Scripture…For the exact opposite view of Schroederʼs key thesis: clocks ticking faster at the center and slow at the edge of the cosmos—- see young-earth creationist, D. Russell Humphreysʼs book “Starlight and Time.”


Old earth creationist Hugh Ross reviews Schroederʼs Genesis And The Big Bang:

Source: www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/p9401.html?main

“One problem with his view is that it clashes with the scientific data on the timing of Earthʼs origin. Since the earth already exists on the first creation day of Genesis 1, Schroederʼs model would say that Earth began at least 12 billion years ago. Scientific measurements, however, show that it is only 4.6 billion years old. Our view is that Genesis 1:2 establishes the frame of reference for the creation events: “The Spirit of God was brooding (or hovering) over the surface of the waters.” In other words, Godʼs time and space frame in describing creation is the earthʼs surface, a frame in common with all readers of the account. The text gives no hint of Schroederʼs relativistically time-extended creation days. If one seeks Jewish support for a day-age interpretation of Genesis 1, Nathan Aviezer, another Jewish physicist, offers it in a book entitled In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science (Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House, 1990). Aviezer acknowledges that the six creation days of Genesis 1 must refer to long time periods.”


Amazon Reviewer of The Science of God: seapapa from Los Angeles “Schroederʼs thesis is that the author of Genesis is describing a 15 billion year history of the universe and life, even though that was never his understanding or his intention. The true meaning Genesis 1 went undetected until it was discovered by the cabalist author Nahmanides in the 11th Century AD. It was lost again until Schroeder rediscovered it. “Even accepting the dubious proposition that people can write things that actually mean the exact opposite of what they intend, the match between the Genesis timeline and the scientifically proposed history of the universe makes an ill fit. Schroeder tries to reconcile the two by focusing minutely on certain words in Genesis that could be interepreted to allow for longer time periods, while totally ignoring the text read in its entirety. For example, day three of creation supposedly lasts 1.6-3.6 billion years ago. Genesis said “let the land produce vegetation”. Success, proclaims Schroder, that matches the plant life on the planet, which is found only in the… water! He conveniently ignores the rest of the verse which calls for fruit-bearing trees and seed-bearing plants. There was nothing but protozoa and plankton back then. This is typical of the book.

“The most absurd argument is that, if properly interpreted, the 6 creation days correspond to 6 actual 24 hour days on earth AND 15 billion cosmic years. How so? Einsteinʼs relativity of time! Schroeder makes such an effort to preserve the 6 days of creation and the order of creation. “This book is ultimately a polemic. Although brilliant and articulate, one gets the feeling that Schroeder cannot bear to have Genesis undermined. That compromizes his scientific judgement.”


A Reviewer of The Science of God (at amazon.com):

“contains a few good passages, but also some egregious errors, which are puzzling when made by a PhD in Physics. For example, G. Schroeder completely misinterprets the experiments with particles moving through openings, invents some odd concept of heat diluting in enlarged volumes, misrepresents the story of photoelectric effect, etc. One striking feature of this book is that Schroeder suggests in it the chronological data , which completely contradict his own data on the same subject, given in his first book, without a word of explanation why he changed those data. A useless book.”


A Reviewer of The Science of God (at amazon.com) wrote:

“His time dilation calculations are totally at fault. The factor of one million million he uses is totally arbitery (nothing really special happened at z=1 million million). His redshift/blueshift calculations are also wrong: The background temperature (and the redshift) changed by less than 10% in the last billion years. Nowhere near the rate needed to slow down from a 500 million year per day (Day 5, according to Schreoder) to 24 hours per day. “Another serious mistake appears in his coverage of evolution: He says the the evolution from chimpanzees to humans requires a million point mutations because the difference in the active DNA between human and chimps is 1,000,000 bases.

“This is simply false. Schroeder himself says that the number of changes needed is no more than 70,000. In most cases a single point mutation is enough to complete a change.

“It would have been better if Schreoder, as a nuclear physicist, asked an expert biologist before writing his chapters about evolution…”


Reviewer: gsssew@m… from St. Louis, Missouri

I was intrigued by the title, but agitated by the contents. The entire book is filled with completely preposterous assumptions and conclusions. After reading such a book, I begin to question why someone, such as Gerald Schroeder, view themselves as scientists.

Denis: Ed, If Jerry Falwell became an evolutionist, be assured, that would be news.

Edward: Flew hasnʼt become a creationist, nor even a “life everlasting”-ist. His god is like Spinozaʼs and Einsteinʼs. So, what I meant to say was that the media played up Flewʼs change of mind (even some Christians on the web bragging he was close to converting to Christianity and holding up his example as a sort of sacred talisman against further thought concerning their particular beliefs.)


Denis: Itʼs news because of who Flew is and what he has written.

Edward: I doubted Flewʼs competency in his first debate with Habermas, published as, “Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?” because Flew demonstrated in that debate that he knew much about Hume but nearly nothing about the relevant Gospel passages. I subsequently wrote Habermas to point out Flewʼs inadequacies and got into a little letter debate with Habby that he even presented to a Christian publisher, who, however, wasnʼt interested in publishing such an exchange.

Flew himself admitted recently that he lacks competency when it comes to judging physics and biology arguments:

Flew Update (January 2005) by Richard Carrier who exchanged letters with Flew

Flew admits: “I have been mistaught by Gerald Schroeder.” He says “it was precisely because he appeared to be so well qualified as a physicist (which I am not) that I was never inclined to question what he said about physics.” Apart from his unreasonable plan of trusting a physicist on the subject of biochemistry (after all, the relevant field is biochemistry, not physics—yet it would seem Flew does not recognize the difference), this attitude seems to pervade Flewʼs method of truthseeking, of looking to a single author for authoritative information and never checking their claims (or, as in the case of Dawkins, presumed lack of claims). As Flew admitted to me, and to Stuart Wavell of the London Times, and Duncan Crary of the Humanist Network News, he has not made any effort to check up on the current state of things in any relevant field (see “No Longer Atheist, Flew Stands by ‘Presumption of Atheism’” and “In the Beginning There Was Something”). Flew has thus abandoned the very standards of inquiry that led the rest of us to atheism.

Despite all this, Flew has not retracted his belief in God, as far as I can tell. But in response to theists citing him in their favor, Flew strangely calls his “recent very modest defection from my previous unbelief” a “more radical form of unbelief,” and implies that the concept of God might actually be self-refuting, for “surely there is material here for a new and more fundamental challenge to the very conception of God as an omnipotent spirit,” but, Flew says, “I am just too old at the age of nearly 82 to initiate and conduct a major and super radical controversy about the conceivability of the putative concept of God as a spirit.” This would appear to be his excuse for everything: he wonʼt investigate the evidence because itʼs too hard. Yet he will declare beliefs in the absence of proper inquiry. Theists would do well to drop the example of Flew. Because his willfully sloppy scholarship can only help to make belief look ridiculous.

See also…

The London TIMES had this to say about Flewʼs recent conversion: “He [Flew] is unlikely to proclaim his faith from a pulpit. He is still not a Christian and dismisses the conventional forms of divinity as ‘the monstrous oriental despots of the religions of Christianity and Islam.’ He also stands by his rejection of an afterlife.”

Flew: “Iʼm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins,” he said. “It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose.”

abcnews.go.com

In his lengthiest interview thus far about his theism (an interview with Liberty University Christian apologist Gary Habermas), Flew had this to add:

Habermas: “In your view, then, God hasnʼt done anything about evil.”

Flew: No, not at all, other than producing a lot of it….

Habermas: Are you any closer to thinking that the resurrection could have been a historical fact?

Flew: No, I donʼt think so… What we do not have is evidence from anyone who was in Jerusalem at the time, who witnessed one of the allegedly miraculous events, and recorded his or her testimony immediately after the occurrence of that allegedly miraculous event. In the 1950s and 1960s I heard several suggestions from hard-bitten young Australian and American philosophers of conceivable miracles the actual occurrence of which, it was contended, no one could have overlooked or denied. Why, they asked, if God wanted to be recognized and worshipped, did God not produce a miracle of this unignorable and undeniable kind?”… [According to Luke-Acts, the raised Jesusʼ ascension into heaven was only witnessed by the eleven apostles, and even Luke-Acts admits that there was no preaching of “the resurrection” until seven weeks after the crucifixion.]

Habermas: Do you think that there is any chance that you might in the end move from theism to Christianity?

Flew: I think itʼs very unlikely, due to the problem of evil. But, if it did happen, I think it would be in some eccentric fit and doubtfully orthodox form: regular religious practice perhaps but without belief. If I wanted any sort of future life I should become a Jehovahʼs Witness [because at least their paradise involves corporeal persons; and Flew said earlier in the interview: “I think those who want to speak about an afterlife have got to meet the difficulty of formulating a concept of an incorporeal person… it is simply impossible to create a concept of an incorporeal spirit… Swinburne and I had been the only Gifford lecturers to treat the question of a future life for the sixty years past. Even more remarkably, Swinburne in his Gifford Lectures ignored Bishop Butlerʼs decisive observation: ‘Memory may reveal but cannot constitute personal identity.’”


Denis: Finally, to answer the question in the title of your piece: Itʼs because liberalism is OLD news.

Edward: It appears to me to be relatively big news that churchgoing continues to decline in the northern hemisphere of the Western industrialized world, especially in Christianityʼs birthplace, Europe. (The regular churchgoers who remain in North America and Europe, tend to be of a more conservative varieties.) Also, Islamʼs rate of biological reproduction means that she may possibly overtake Christianity in the future as the worldʼs number one religion, especially since reproductive rates in Europe have slipped to a low rate. So, Europe may yet be conquered by Islam in the future. Though Christianity in the southern hemisphere continues to grow, especially conservative Catholicism and miracle-mongering Protestant sects. And further conflicts with Islam will probably continue to arise there.

Nigeria Christians Attack Muslims, Kill Dozens

On the decline of churchgoing in the Northern Hemisphere see: “Trends Among Christian Believers in America” (includes links at the bottom to trends round the world)

On the rise in Christianity in the Southern Hemisphere see the links

The Next Christianity - About the kinds of Christianity that are gaining popularity in the Southern hemisphere: very hardcore, including a revival of witchhunts.

Christianityʼs New Center - More about the rapid growth of hardcore

Christianity (along with Islam) in the Southern hemisphere.

Oh, Gods! - About worldwide religious trends in general, including new religious movements.

Welcome to the Next Church - About the new American evangelical (not quite fundamentalist, but fundy-leaning) Christian megachurches, some with wealthy parishioners, although Christianityʼs primary appeal is to the poor.


Edward: Regarding Wheaton College (Billy Grahamʼs alma mater), it no longer demands that all of its professors agree that Adam and Eveʼs bodies were created directly from the earth.

Denis: Is that true? Iʼve got a friend going there this summer, and he believes that he has to sign it. But he might be wrong. So, clue me (and him) in if something has changed.

Edward: A few years ago I read in First Things or Christianity Today that Wheaton was no longer requiring faculty, staff and students to sign a statement demanding that they believe Adam and Eveʼs bodies were created directly from the dust of the earth. I havenʼt been able to find a copy of Wheatonʼs earlier statement of faith, but the present one reads, “We believe that God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race; and that they were created in His own image, distinct from all other living creatures, and in a state of original righteousness.” www.wheaton.edu/welcome/mission_textonly.html The mention of a “distinct creation” does not specify whether the body or the soul is being addressed as “distinctly created.” Even Mr. Jones, the provost at Wheaton, wrote that while professors were not required to advocate creationism, they were expected to treat it with respect. [From The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 24, 2002, “Do Professors Lose Academic Freedom by Signing Statements of Faith? Critics say the oaths at some religious colleges are intellectually confining” by Beth McMurtrie

A Wheaton College professor of Old Testament, John Walton, wrote in 2002 the NIV Application Commentary Of Genesis and he left open the question of whether certain verses in Genesis demand belief in the bodies of Adam and Eve from the dust of the earth. Walton even argues that commentary that the ancient Hebrews believed the earth was flat, and that the “serpent” in Genesis was not originally understood to be “Satan.” Waltonʼs commentary was published in 2002. Every Evangelical ought to read it. A simplified presentation by Walton.

Also, Wheaton College has a huge collection of C. S. Lewis writings and memorabilia. Lewis of course wouldnʼt be able to sign any statement of faith that demanded one must believe that Adam and Eve were created directly from the dust of the earth. In fact C. S. Lewis wasnʼt disturbed in the least by the thought of Genesis being “…derived from earlier Semitic stories which were Pagan and mythical.” [C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (London: Collins, Fontana Books, 1958), p. 93]

“We read in Genesis (2:7) that God formed man of the dust and breathed life into him. For all the first writer knew of it, this passage might merely illustrate the survival, even in a truly creational story, of the Pagan inability to conceive true Creation, the savage, pictorial tendency to imagine God making things ‘out of’ something as the potter or the carpenter does.” [C. S. Lewis, “Scripture,” Reflections on the Psalms]

In short, “Lewis found more truth in the story of the ‘Garden of Eden’ when he regarded it as myth than as history.” [Michael J. Christensen, C. S. Lewis on Scripture: His Thoughts on the Nature of Biblical Inspiration, The Role of Revelation and the Question of Inerrancy (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1979), pp. 34-35)]

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