Antony Flew

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Antony Garrard Newton Flew
Antony flew.jpg
Born(1923-02-11)11 February 1923
London, England
Died8 April 2010(2010-04-08) (aged 87)
Reading, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom
Alma mater SOAS, University of London
St John's College, Oxford
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic
Main interests
Philosophy of religion
Notable ideas
No true Scotsman
The presumption of atheism
Negative and positive atheism
Subject/motive shift

Antony Garrard Newton Flew ( /fl/ ; 11 February 1923 – 8 April 2010) [1] [2] was an English [3] philosopher. Belonging to the analytic and evidentialist schools of thought, Flew was most notable for his work related to the philosophy of religion. During the course of his career he taught at the universities of Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele and Reading, and at York University in Toronto.

English people Nation and ethnic group native to England

The English people are a nation and an ethnic group native to England who speak the English language. The English identity is of early medieval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Angelcynn. Their ethnonym is derived from the Angles, one of the Germanic peoples who migrated to Great Britain around the 5th century AD. England is one of the countries of the United Kingdom, and the majority of people living there are British citizens.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.

Analytic philosophy style of philosophy

Analytic philosophy is a style of philosophy that became dominant in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century. The term can refer to one of several things:


For much of his career Flew was known as a strong advocate of atheism, arguing that one should presuppose atheism until empirical evidence of a God surfaces. [4] He also criticised the idea of life after death, [5] [4] the free will defence to the problem of evil, [4] and the meaningfulness of the concept of God. [6] [4] In 2003 he was one of the signatories of the Humanist Manifesto III. [7]

Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

Empirical evidence Knowledge acquired by means of the senses

Empirical evidence is the information received by means of the senses, particularly by observation and documentation of patterns and behavior through experimentation. The term comes from the Greek word for experience, ἐμπειρία (empeiría).

The afterlife is the belief that the essential part of an individual's identity or the stream of consciousness continues after the death of the physical body. According to various ideas about the afterlife, the essential aspect of the individual that lives on after death may be some partial element, or the entire soul or spirit, of an individual, which carries with it and may confer personal identity or, on the contrary, may not, as in Indian nirvana. Belief in an afterlife is in contrast to the belief in oblivion after death.

However, in 2004 he changed his position, and stated that he now believed in the existence of an Intelligent Creator of the universe, [8] shocking his fellow colleagues and atheists. [8] In order to further clarify his personal concept of God, Flew openly made an allegiance to Deism, [8] [9] more specifically a belief in the Aristotelian God, [8] [9] and dismissed on many occasions a hypothetical conversion to Christianity, Islam or any other religion. [8] [9] He stated that in keeping his lifelong commitment to go where the evidence leads, he now believed in the existence of a God. [9] [10]

Universe Universe events since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago

The Universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. While the spatial size of the entire Universe is unknown, it is possible to measure the size of the observable universe, which is currently estimated to be 93 billion light years in diameter. In various multiverse hypotheses, a universe is one of many causally disconnected constituent parts of a larger multiverse, which itself comprises all of space and time and its contents.

Deism is the philosophical belief which posits that although God exists as the uncaused First Cause – ultimately responsible for the creation of the universe – God does not interact directly with that subsequently created world. Equivalently, deism can also be defined as the view which asserts God's existence as the cause of all things, and admits its perfection but rejects divine revelation or direct intervention of God in the universe by miracles. It also rejects revelation as a source of religious knowledge and asserts that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a single creator or absolute principle of the universe.

The unmoved mover or prime mover is a concept advanced by Aristotle as a primary cause or "mover" of all the motion in the universe. As is implicit in the name, the "unmoved mover" moves other things, but is not itself moved by any prior action. In Book 12 of his Metaphysics, Aristotle describes the unmoved mover as being perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only the perfect contemplation: self-contemplation. He equates this concept also with the active intellect. This Aristotelian concept had its roots in cosmological speculations of the earliest Greek pre-Socratic philosophers and became highly influential and widely drawn upon in medieval philosophy and theology. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, elaborated on the unmoved mover in the Quinque viae.

In 2007 a book outlining his reasons for changing his position, There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind was written by Flew in collaboration with Roy Abraham Varghese. The book (and Flew's conversion to Deism) has been the subject of controversy, following an article in The New York Times Magazine alleging that Flew's intellect had declined due to senility, and that the book was primarily the work of Varghese; [4] [11] Flew himself specifically denied this, stating that the book represented his views, and he acknowledged that due to his age Varghese had done most of the actual work of writing the book. [12]

<i>The New York Times Magazine</i>

The New York Times Magazine is a Sunday magazine supplement included with the Sunday edition of The New York Times. It is host to feature articles longer than those typically in the newspaper and has attracted many notable contributors. The magazine is also noted for its photography, especially relating to fashion and style.

Dementia long-term brain disorders causing impaired memory, reasoning, and normal function together with personality changes

Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that cause a long-term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember that is great enough to affect a person's daily functioning. Other common symptoms include emotional problems, difficulties with language, and a decrease in motivation. A person's consciousness is usually not affected. A dementia diagnosis requires a change from a person's usual mental functioning and a greater decline than one would expect due to aging. These diseases also have a significant effect on a person's caregivers.

He was also known for the development of the no true Scotsman fallacy. [13] And for his debate on retrocausality with Michael Dummett. [14]

No true Scotsman or appeal to purity is an informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample. Rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule.

Retrocausality or Backwards causation is a concept of cause and effect where the effect precedes its cause in time, so that a later event in time affects an earlier event in time. In quantum physics, the distinction between cause and effect is not made at the most fundamental level, so time-symmetric systems can be viewed as causal or retro-causal. Philosophical considerations of time travel often address the same issues as retrocausality, as do treatments of the subject in fiction, but the two phenomena are distinct.

Michael Dummett British academic and philosopher

Sir Michael Anthony Eardley Dummett, FBA was an English academic described as "among the most significant British philosophers of the last century and a leading campaigner for racial tolerance and equality." He was, until 1992, Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford. He wrote on the history of analytic philosophy, notably as an interpreter of Frege, and made original contributions particularly in the philosophies of mathematics, logic, language and metaphysics. He was known for his work on truth and meaning and their implications to debates between realism and anti-realism, a term he helped to popularize. He devised the Quota Borda system of proportional voting, based on the Borda count. In mathematical logic, he developed an intermediate logic, already studied by Kurt Gödel: the Gödel–Dummett logic.

Life and career

Flew, the son of Methodist minister/theologian Robert Newton Flew (1886–1962) and his wife Winifred née Garrard (1887–1982), was born in London. He was educated at St Faith's School, Cambridge followed by Kingswood School, Bath. He is said to have concluded by the age of 15 that there was no God. [15] During the Second World War he studied Japanese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and was a Royal Air Force intelligence officer. After a period with the Inter-Services Topographical Department in Oxford, he was posted to Bletchley Park in June 1944. [16]

Methodism Group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity

Methodism, also known as the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their practice and belief from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley were also significant early leaders in the movement. It originated as a revival movement within the 18th-century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley's death. The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond because of vigorous missionary work, today claiming approximately 80 million adherents worldwide.

Robert Newton Flew (1886–1962) was an English Methodist minister and theologian, and an advocate of ecumenism among the Christian churches.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, and the largest city in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

After the war, Flew achieved a first class degree in Literae Humaniores at St John's College, Oxford (1947). He also won the John Locke Scholarship in Mental Philosophy in the following year. [17] Flew was a graduate student of Gilbert Ryle, prominent in ordinary language philosophy. Both Flew and Ryle were among many Oxford philosophers fiercely criticised in Ernest Gellner's book Words and Things (1959). A 1954 debate with Michael Dummett over backward causation was an early highlight in Flew's career. [18]

For a year, 1949–50, Flew was a lecturer in philosophy at Christ Church, Oxford. [19] From 1950 to 1954 he was a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, and from 1954 to 1971 he was a professor of philosophy at the University of Keele. [19] He held a professorship at the University of Calgary, 1972–73. [19] Between 1973 and 1983 he was professor of philosophy at the University of Reading. At this time, he developed one of his most famous arguments, the No true Scotsman fallacy in his 1975 book, Thinking About Thinking. Upon his retirement, Flew took up a half-time post for a few years at York University, Toronto.

Politically Flew was a libertarian-leaning conservative and wrote articles for The Journal of Libertarian Studies . His name appears on letterheads into 1992 as a Vice-President of the Conservative Monday Club, and he held the same position in the Western Goals Institute. [20] He was one of the signatories to a letter in The Times along with Lord Sudeley, Sir Alfred Sherman, and Dr. Harvey Ward, on behalf of the Institute, "applauding Alfredo Cristiani's statesmanship" and calling for his government's success in defeating the Cuban and Nicaraguan-backed communist FMLN in El Salvador. [21]

Flew married on 28 June 1952. He had two daughters. [22] Flew died on 8 April 2010, while nursed in an Extended Care Facility in Reading, England, suffering from dementia. [23] [24]

While an undergraduate, Flew attended the weekly meetings of C. S. Lewis's Socratic Club fairly regularly. Although he found Lewis to be "an eminently reasonable man" and "by far the most powerful Christian apologists for the sixty or more years following his founding of that club", he was not persuaded by Lewis's argument from morality as found in Mere Christianity . Flew also criticised several of the other philosophical proofs for God's existence. He concluded that the ontological argument in particular failed because it is based on the premise that the concept of Being can be derived from the concept of Goodness. Only the scientific forms of the teleological argument ultimately impressed Flew as decisive. [25]

During the time of his involvement in the Socratic Club, Flew also wrote the article "Theology and Falsification", which argued that claims about God were merely vacuous where they could not be tested for truth or falsehood. Though initially published in an undergraduate journal, the article came to be widely reprinted and discussed.

Flew was also critical of the idea of life after death and the free will defence to the problem of evil.[ citation needed ] In 1998, he debated Christian philosopher William Lane Craig over the existence of God. [26]

Atheism and deism

The Presumption of Atheism

One of Antony Flew's most influential professional works was his 1976 The Presumption of Atheism [27] in which Flew forwarded the proposition that the question of God's existence should begin with the presumption of atheism:

"What I want to examine is the contention that the debate about the existence of God should properly begin from the presumption of atheism, that the onus of proof must lie upon the theist. The word 'atheism', however, has in this contention to be construed unusually. Whereas nowadays the usual meaning of 'atheist' in English is 'someone who asserts that there is no such being as God, I want the word to be understood not positively but negatively... in this interpretation an atheist becomes: not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God; but someone who is simply not a theist.

The introduction of this new interpretation of the word 'atheism' may appear to be a piece of perverse Humpty-Dumptyism, going arbitrarily against established common usage. 'Whyever', it could be asked, don't you make it not the presumption of atheism but the presumption of agnosticism? [28]

Flew's proposal to change his profession's use of the term atheism saw limited acceptance in the 20th century, but in the early 21st century Flew's negative sense of 'atheism' came to be forwarded more commonly. [29] [30] The impact of Flew's proposed negative atheism, which is often referred to today as 'weak atheism' or 'soft atheism', is illustrated by analytic Philosopher William Lane Craig's 2007 assessment that the presumption of atheism had become "one of the most commonly proffered justifications of atheism." [31] And BBC journalist William Crawley 2010 analysis: "The Presumption of Atheism (1976) made the case, now followed by today's new atheism, that atheism should be the ... default position". [32] [33] In recent debates, atheists often forward the Presumption of Atheism referring to atheism as the "default position" [34] [35] [36] [37] or has "no burden of proof" [38] [39] or asserting that the burden of proof rests solely on the theist. [28] [40] [41]

Revised views

Conversion to deism

On several occasions, starting in 2001, rumors circulated claiming that Flew had converted from atheism to deism. Flew denied these rumours on the Secular Web website. [42]

In January 2004 Flew and Gary Habermas, his friend and philosophical adversary, took part in and conducted a dialogue on the resurrection at California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo. During a couple of telephone discussions shortly after that dialogue, Flew explained to Habermas that he was considering becoming a theist. While Flew did not change his position at that time, he concluded that certain philosophical and scientific considerations were causing him to do some serious rethinking. He characterized his position as that of atheism standing in tension with several huge question marks. [43]

In a 2004 interview (published 9 December), Flew, then 81 years old, said that he had become a deist. [44] In the article Flew states that he has renounced his long-standing espousal of atheism by endorsing a deism of the sort that Thomas Jefferson advocated ("While reason, mainly in the form of arguments to design, assures us that there is a God, there is no room either for any supernatural revelation of that God or for any transactions between that God and individual human beings"). Flew stated that "the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries" and that "the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it". The argument of ID is that evidenced objects and physical concepts are either too simple or too complex to be simply natural, whichever of the two extremes one chooses to be the hallmark of design by an outside intelligence. He also answered in the affirmative to Habermas's question, "So of the major theistic arguments, such as the cosmological, teleological, moral, and ontological, the only really impressive ones that you take to be decisive are the scientific forms of teleology?". He supported the idea of an Aristotelian God with "the characteristics of power and also intelligence", stating that the evidence for it was stronger than ever before. He rejected the idea of an afterlife, of God as the source of good (he explicitly states that God has created "a lot of" evil), and of the resurrection of Jesus as a historical fact, although he has allowed a short chapter arguing in favor of Joshua's/Jesus' resurrection to be added into his latest book. [44]

Flew was particularly hostile to Islam, and said it is "best described in a Marxian way as the uniting and justifying ideology of Arab imperialism." [44] In a December 2004 interview he said: "I'm 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". [45]

Controversy over his position

In October 2004 (before the December publication of the Flew–Habermas interview), in a letter written to the historian and atheist Richard Carrier of the Secular Web Flew stated that he was a deist, and wrote "I think we need here a fundamental distinction between the God of Aristotle or Spinoza and the Gods of the Christian and the Islamic Revelations." [46] Flew also said: "My one and only piece of relevant evidence [for an Aristotelian God] is the apparent impossibility of providing a naturalistic theory of the origin from DNA of the first reproducing species... [In fact] the only reason which I have for beginning to think of believing in a First Cause god is the impossibility of providing a naturalistic account of the origin of the first reproducing organisms." [46]

In the months following the Habermas interview, Flew contradicted some statements made in the interview and retracted others.[ citation needed ] When asked in December 2004 by Duncan Crary of Humanist Network News if he still stood by the argument presented in The Presumption of Atheism, Flew replied he did but he also restated his position as deist: "I'm quite happy to believe in an inoffensive inactive god." When asked by Crary whether or not he has kept up with the most recent science and theology, he responded with "Certainly not," stating that there is simply too much to keep up with. Flew also denied that there was any truth to the rumours of 2001 and 2003 that he had converted to Christianity. [47]

In a letter to Carrier of 29 December 2004 Flew retracted his statement that a deity or a "super-intelligence" was the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature:

I now realise that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction.

He blamed his error on being "misled" by the (supposed) fact that Richard Dawkins had "never been reported as referring to any promising work on the production of a theory of the development of living matter. [46]

His 2007 book There is a God (see below) revisited the question, however, and questioned contemporary models: "the latest work I have seen shows that the present physical universe gives too little time for these theories of abiogenesis to get the job done." [48] He added: "The philosophical question that has not been answered in origin-of-life studies is this: How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-replication capabilities, and 'coded chemistry'? Here we are not dealing with biology, but an entirely different category of problem". [48]

The work of the Orthodox Jewish nuclear physicist Gerald Schroeder had been influential in Flew's new belief, but Flew told Carrier that he had not read any of the critiques of Schroeder that Carrier referred him to.

However, in spring 2005 when atheist Raymond Bradley, emeritus professor of philosophy at Simon Fraser University and a member of the editorial board of The Open Society journal, wrote an open letter to Flew accusing him of not "check[ing] the veracity of [Schroeder's] claims before swallowing them whole," Flew responded strongly to that charge in a letter published in the same journal in summer 2006, describing the content of Bradley's letter "extraordinarily offensive" and the accusation made by him as an "egregiously offensive charge"; he also implied that Bradley was a "secularist bigot," and suggested that he should follow Socrates's advice (as scripted in Plato's Republic) of "follow[ing] the argument wherever it leads." [49] Other prominent atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, suggested Flew's deism was a form of God of the gaps. [50]

Concerning other critics (both the Christians when he was an Atheist, and the Atheists when he decided to become an Aristotelian Deist) Flew said in December 2004: [51]

I have been denounced by my fellow unbelievers for stupidity, betrayal, senility and everything you can think of and none of them have read a word that I have ever written.

Restatement of position

A letter on evolution and theology which Flew published in the August/September 2004 issue of Philosophy Now magazine closed with, "Anyone who should happen to want to know what I myself now believe will have to wait until the publication, promised for early 2005, by Prometheus of Amherst, NY of the final edition of my God and Philosophy with a new introduction of it as ‘an historical relic’." [52]

The preface of God and Philosophy states that the publisher and Flew went through a total of four versions (each extensively peer-reviewed) before coming up with one that satisfied them both. The introduction raises ten matters that came about since the original 1966 edition. Flew states that any book to follow God and Philosophy will have to take into account these ideas when considering the philosophical case for the existence of God: [53] [ page needed ]

  1. A novel definition of "God" by Richard Swinburne
  2. The case for the existence of the Christian God by Swinburne in the book Is There a God?
  3. The Church of England's change in doctrine on the eternal punishment of Hell
  4. The question of whether there was only one Big Bang and if time began with it
  5. The question of multiple universes
  6. The fine-tuning argument
  7. The question of whether there is a naturalistic account for the development of living matter from non-living matter
  8. The question of whether there is a naturalistic account for non-reproducing living matter developing into a living creature capable of reproduction
  9. The concept of an Intelligent Orderer as explained in the book The Wonder of the World: A Journey from Modern Science to the Mind of God by Roy Abraham Varghese
  10. An extension of an Aristotelian/Deist concept of God that can be reached through natural theology, which was developed by David Conway.

In an interview with Joan Bakewell for BBC Radio 4 in March 2005, Flew rejected the fine-tuning argument as a conclusive proof: "I don't think it proves anything but that it is entirely reasonable for people who already have a belief in a creating God to regard this as confirming evidence. And it's a point of argument which I think is very important – to see that what is reasonable for people to do in the face of new evidence depends on what they previously had good reason to believe." He also said it appeared that there had been progress made regarding the naturalistic origins of DNA. However, he restated his deism, with the usual provisos that his God is not the God of any of the revealed religions. [54] In the same interview, Flew was asked whether he was retracting belief in an Aristotelian God, but answered no.

One month later, Flew told Christianity Today that although he was not on the road to becoming a Christian convert, he reaffirmed his deism: "Since the beginning of my philosophical life I have followed the policy of Plato's Socrates: We must follow the argument wherever it leads." [55]

In late 2006, Flew joined 11 other academics in urging the British government to teach intelligent design in the state schools. [56]

In 2007, in an interview with Benjamin Wiker, Flew said again that his deism was the result of his "growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe" and "my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source." He also restated that he was not a Christian theist. [57]

Book with Varghese and authorship controversy

In 2007, Flew published a book titled There is a God, which was listed as having Roy Abraham Varghese as its co-author. Shortly after the book was released, the New York Times published an article by historian of religion Mark Oppenheimer, who stated that Varghese had been almost entirely responsible for writing the book, and that Flew was in a serious state of mental decline, [11] having great difficulty remembering key figures, ideas, and events relating to the debate covered in the book. [11] His book praises several philosophers (like Brian Leftow, John Leslie and Paul Davies), but Flew failed to remember their work during Oppenheimer's interview.

A further article by Anthony Gottlieb noted a strong difference in style between the passages giving Flew's biography, and those laying out the case for a god, with the latter including Americanisms such as "beverages", "vacation" and "candy". He came to the same conclusion as Oppenheimer, and stated that "Far from strengthening the case for the existence of God, [the book] rather weakens the case for the existence of Antony Flew". [58] Varghese replied with a letter disputing this view. [59]

Flew later released a statement through his publisher stating:

I have rebutted these criticisms in the following statement: 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 percent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I’m 84 and that was Roy Varghese’s role. The idea that someone manipulated me because I'm old is exactly wrong. I may be old but it is hard to manipulate me. This is my book and it represents my thinking." [60]

An audio commentary by William Lane Craig [61] concurs with this position, but Richard Carrier disputed this view. [62] In June 2008, Flew stated his position once again, in a letter to a fellow of the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship. [12]

Christian writer Regis Nicoll claims that "Moreover, in a signed, handwritten letter (a copy of which I now have) sent to Roy Varghese, the legendary philosopher reaffirmed his conversion while criticising Oppenheimer for drawing attention away from the book’s central argument: the collapse of rationalism." [63] He argues that "Even Mark Oppenheimer described the ex-atheist 'flaunt[ing] his allegiance to deism' in May 2006 to a Christian audience at Biola University."

Perhaps most definitively, Christian apologist Anthony Horvath corresponded with Antony Flew before it was publicly known there would even be a book. In 2010, he published his letters. The letters contain Flew's description of the outline of the book, his Deism in the pattern of Einstein's, and his high praise of N.T. Wright's arguments for Christianity. All of these elements are present in the book. [64]


Flew was awarded the Schlarbaum Prize by the Ludwig von Mises Institute for his "outstanding lifetime achievement in the cause of liberty." [65] Upon acceptance of the award in Auburn, Alabama, in September 2001, Flew delivered an address entitled "Locke versus Rawls on Equality." Of his choice of topics, he stated "I am the first Englishman and the first professional philosopher to receive the Schlarbaum Prize. So it seems appropriate to begin by talking about the greatest English philosopher, John Locke." [66]

On 11 May 2006, Antony Flew accepted the second "Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth" from Biola University. The award, named for its first recipient, was given to Flew "for his lifelong commitment to free and open inquiry and to standing fast against intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression". When informed of his award, Flew remarked, "In light of my work and publications in this area and the criticism I’ve received for changing my position, I appreciate receiving this award". [67]

He was an honorary associate of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists [68] and a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. [69] In 1985, Flew was awarded the In Praise of Reason Award the highest honor the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry awards. The award was presented by Chairman Paul Kurtz in London "'[I]n recognition of his long-standing contributions to the use of methods of critical inquiry, scientific evidence, and reason in evaluating claims to knowledge and solving social problems." [70]



  1. "Antony Flew", The Times (obituary), UK: Legacy.
  2. "Professor Antony Flew", The Daily Telegraph (obituary), UK: Legacy, 14 April 2010.
  3. Antony Flew self identified as English not British: "I am the first Englishman and the first professional philosopher to receive the Schlarbaum Prize. So it seems appropriate to begin by talking about the greatest English philosopher, John Locke." Flew, Antony. "Locke versus Rawls on Equality" Mises. 24 October 2001.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Antony Flew – did he really change his mind?". Skeptical Science. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  5. Flew, Anthony (1998), Could We Survive Our Own Deaths?, Internet Infidels.
  6. Flew, Anthony (2000), Theology & Falsification: A Golden Jubilee Celebration, Internet Infidels.
  7. "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Grimes, William (16 April 2010). "Antony Flew, Philosopher and Ex-Atheist, Dies at 87". The New York Times . Retrieved 21 February 2018. In “There Is a God” he explained that he now believed in a supreme intelligence, removed from human affairs but responsible for the intricate workings of the universe. In other words, the Divine Watchmaker imagined by deists like Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
    In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph of London in 2004, he described “the God in whose existence I have belatedly come to believe” as “most emphatically not the eternally rewarding and eternally torturing God of either Christianity or Islam but the God of Aristotle that he would have defined — had Aristotle actually produced a definition of his (and my) God — as the first initiating and sustaining cause of the universe.”
  9. 1 2 3 4 Crawley, William (16 April 2010). "Antony Flew: the atheist who changed his mind". BBC . Retrieved 20 February 2018. In some interviews, and in subsequent publications, Flew made it clear that he had not become a Christian; he had moved from atheism to a form of deism. This is important: it is a mistake to claim that Flew embraced classical theism in any substantial form; rather, he came to believe merely that an intelligent orderer of the universe existed. He did not believe that this "being" had any further agency in the universe, and he maintained his opposition to the vast majority of doctrinal positions adopted by the global faiths, such as belief in the after-life, or a divine being who actively cares for or loves the universe, or the resurrection of Christ, and argued for the idea of an "Aristotelian God". He explained that he, like Socrates, had simply followed the evidence, and the new evidence from science and natural theology made it possible to rationally advance belief in an intelligent being who ordered the universe. In 2006, he even added his name to a petition calling for the inclusion of intelligent design theory on the UK science curriculum.
  10. Habermas 2004.
  11. 1 2 3 Oppenheimer, Mark (11 April 2007), "The Turning of an Atheist", The New York Times Magazine, retrieved 23 February 2018, As he himself conceded, he had not written his book.
    “This is really Roy’s doing,” he said, before I had even figured out a polite way to ask. “He showed it to me, and I said O.K. I’m too old for this kind of work!”
    When I asked Varghese, he freely admitted that the book was his idea and that he had done all the original writing for it. But he made the book sound like more of a joint effort — slightly more, anyway. “There was stuff he had written before, and some of that was adapted to this,” Varghese said. “There is stuff he’d written to me in correspondence, and I organized a lot of it. And I had interviews with him. So those three elements went into it. Oh, and I exposed him to certain authors and got his views on them. We pulled it together. And then to make it more reader-friendly, HarperCollins had a more popular author go through it.”
    So even the ghostwriter had a ghostwriter: Bob Hostetler, an evangelical pastor and author from Ohio, rewrote many passages, especially in the section that narrates Flew’s childhood. With three authors, how much Flew was left in the book?
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