CultureWatch

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A review of There Is a God. By Antony Flew.

Nov 21, 2007

HarperOne, 2007.

In 2004 the atheist world was rocked by the news of one of the most important defections from its ranks in recent times. The world’s leading atheist, Antony Flew, announced that he was no longer an atheist, but a theist. This of course sent shock waves through the anti-theist camp, since they had long been claiming that rational and reasonable people only choose unbelief, whereas believers can only be regarded as stupid, gullible and deluded. It is pretty hard to describe Antony Flew in those terms.

Indeed, given his credentials, this is an amazing book about an amazing intellectual about-face. For over 50 years Flew was the number one proponent of atheism. And as a world class scholar with over 30 books on philosophy in print, he was one of the twentieth century’s most imposing intellectual figures.

In this book we hear about the reasons why he has abandoned atheism and embraced its counterpart. The significance of this turnaround can be seen in part by the ugly attacks and bitter responses by fellow atheists. They have made it perfectly clear that Flew has committed the unpardonable sin here. Their crude and ugly attacks on him and his decision is a telling commentary on the intellectual shallowness, bigoted fundamentalism, and narrow-minded intolerance that characterises so much of the new atheism.

Image of There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew, Roy Abraham Varghese Amazon logo

The first half of this book is a brief intellectual biography of Flew. Here we learn about how he was raised in a Christian home; his decision to embrace atheism at age 15; his career as a professional philosopher; his numerous important works on philosophy; his time as a Marxist; his encounters with such intellectual heavyweights as C.S. Lewis, A.J. Ayer, Gilbert Ryle, Wittgenstein, and others; his debates with Christian theists such as Lewis, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig; his debates with fellow atheists such as Richard Dawkins; and his six decades as a dogmatic atheist.

The second half of the book deals with why he finally felt compelled to abandon his atheism and embrace theism. He offers three main reasons for his defection, (or apostasy, as many fellow atheists regard his move). The first bit of evidence he cites is the fact that nature obeys rational and ordered laws. The second is the fact that we are intelligently organised and purpose-driven beings. The third is the very existence of nature itself. The brute evidence of nature, in other words, has led Flew to recognise that “the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence”.

He expands these three points in some detail, and demonstrates how any open-minded examination of recent scientific discoveries can only point in one direction: that matter alone is not all there is, and a supreme intelligence must be directing what we observe in nature.

All the reasons offered in this book are based on an honest assessment of the evidence. Flew had made it a life habit to follow the command of Plato attributed to Socrates, “We must follow the argument wherever it leads”.

Flew rightly complains that so many atheists are simply stuck in a narrow box, where prior faith commitments to naturalism preclude an honest evaluation of the evidence. It is so easy “to let preconceived theories shape the way we view evidence,” he says, “instead of letting the evidence shape our theories”. Flew’s willingness as an honest atheist to follow the evidence where it leads finally led him out of the barren sands of atheism into the refreshing oasis of theism.

He notes that many leading scientists today “have built a philosophically compelling vision of a rational universe that sprang from a divine mind”. Eminent scientists and scientific thinkers such as Max Planck, Erwin Schrodinger, Werner Heisenberg, Paul Davies, Francis Collins, John Polkinghorne, Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking all acknowledge that there must be more to reality than what is offered in the materialist worldview.

The various new discoveries – be they in astronomy, physics, cosmology, genetics or molecular biology – all demonstrate intelligence, purpose, order, design and complexity, the most obvious explanation of which is an intelligent designer.

Flew of course takes on all the various challenges to such thinking, be it the multiverse scenarios, the functionalism of Dennett, Stenger’s notion of symmetry, or Dawkins’ idea of selfish genes. Concerning the last of these, Flew had long been a critique of this idea. “Genes, of course, can be neither selfish nor unselfish,” he says, “any more than they or any other nonconscious entities can engage in competition or make selections”. Indeed, natural selection “does not positively produce anything. It only eliminates, or tends to eliminate, whatever is not competitive”.

Even though this is a brief book of just 200 pages, the cumulative case for the inadequacies of atheism and the necessity of theism is here very nicely and compellingly made. And given the one making the case – the world’s leading atheist for six decades – this book needs to be seriously read by everyone.

Flew makes it clear that he is not a Christian – at least as yet – but is basically a deist. Deism says that there is a creator God, but such a God has no ongoing relationship with the created order – a bit like an absentee landlord. He says his journey to theism was based on reason alone, not faith, and he has yet to decide about revealed religion.

He does inform us however that if he were to embrace a revelational religion, Christianity would be the best choice. Indeed, he finds the arguments for Christianity persuasive, and is now exploring the evidence for this as well. He is even impressed with the central truth claim of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, he allows New Testament scholar N.T. Wright to have a concluding chapter in this book, making the case for the resurrection.

So as an honest seeker, he is more than willing to consider the claims of Christ. But for the honest atheist, this book offers a persuasive case for the claims of theism. As Roy Abraham Varghese argues in another appendix to this book, “we have all the evidence we need in our immediate experience” for theism, and the only reason why people remain in atheism is a refusal to look at this evidence.

In this hugely important book Antony Flew challenges all of us – atheists especially – to honestly and sincerely examine the evidence, without preconceived biases and agendas. Genuine intellectual honesty demands that we indeed follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

[1077 words]

40 Responses to A review of There Is a God. By Antony Flew.

  • I have been following the story of Flew’s conversion for some time now, and I am very glad to hear that he has been courageous enough to enter the debate. It would have been very easy for him to simply to change his ideas and let it lie. Instead, he has responded to the charges against him by his former fellow-atheists to defend his change of mind.

    I will read his book at the first available opportunity and, particularly, will send a copy to my brother-in-law, who is a Dawkins’ devotee. The passionate rhetoric of the atheists cannot mask the inconsistency and poor logic of their arguments. It will be interesting to read the apologetic of someone of the unquestionable calibre as that of Antony Flew.

    Ian Forest-Jones

  • How interesting to know that there are honest atheists who are willing to change their stance in the light of objective evidence. Hopefully more will be convinced by Flew’s reasons and not be blinded by their own stubborn and deluded positions. I like the process of following the evidence where it leads us, as this is a very scientific way in exploring truth and finding it.
    John Mathai

  • Great Bill, thanks. As you point out, while Flew’s integrity soars, that of his former admirers plummets in their response. Oppenheimer plays the exploited-senility card, to which co-author Varghese and publisher HarperOne have responded. These “brights” are so luminous that they seem to know in advance where the evidence may lead, which is how come they’re so clued into Flew’s pathology. It’s lamentable how easily such cheap shots sway a public eager to dismiss rather than engage.

    Peter Grice, Think Christianity

  • Hi Bill
    Flew’s conversion reminded me of a story I heard many years ago about a number of scientists working in a laboratory in France. All were atheists except one. He was a devout Catholic and was quite happy to politely discuss their ‘big bang’ theory with them. He also had an unusual hobby. At home he constructed a replica of the small part of the universe, in which we live. He had the “planets” connected to thin wire and they would move around when he turned on the power. One of his atheist colleagues visited him home and was most intrigued with his invention and asked him “Did you construct that?” “No” he replied, “nobody did”. The atheist laughed and said “Well someone must have built it”. The believer replied “No, there was a big bang in my workshop and it all suddenly appeared”.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie, Qld

  • Bill,

    Thanks for the excellent review of Antony Flew’s book,

    In an interview he did with Christian apologist, Gary Habermas, there was this interchange:

    HABERMAS: Then, would you comment on your “openness” to the notion of theistic revelation?

    FLEW: Yes. I am open to it, but not enthusiastic about potential revelation from God. On the positive side, for example, I am very much impressed with physicist Gerald Schroeder’s comments on Genesis 1. That this biblical account might be scientifically accurate raises the possibility that it is revelation. (see: http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf )

    While Flew’s conversion has been to a deistic view of God, this is still a monstrous leap for such an outspoken and committed atheist. What I like about what I’ve read of Flew’s conversion is his honesty about what has happened.

    You are correct. He could have kept this radical change of mind a secret but chose to speak out. He is now aged 84.

    In this article in Christianity Today, Flew admitted that “God could, in principle, puncture his bias against the supernatural” (see: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/april/29.80.html ).

    I wonder how many atheists will listen to Flew and consider the evidence he is presenting in his articles, interviews, and now the book.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • “They shall know the truth and the truth shall set them free.”
    Flew’s courage to openly admit that his previous conclusions were wrong is admirable. I’m sure that there will be Atheists who now attack their ‘fallen hero’, however this will simply reinforce their untenable position.

    Antony Flew now has a peace and assurance. Others can too….

    God loves every one of them…

    Peter Howard

  • Bill a great article on Antony Flew, and an interesting story.

    How difficult is it to maintain an athiest’s position in the face of the order of nature – the seasons (even after hickups they resume their cycle), the plants that prosper in appropriate areas, the ‘stature’ of trees, the beauty of flowers and even the measured expansion of the universe.

    So accurate is the ‘operation’ of nature that we can precisely forecast the time of sunrise or sunset on any day of the year, or the decade. In fact engineers have been hard pressed to design a clock with this degree of accuracy.

    SImply put, the universe was designed by a mind far superior to ours. I know Him as God.

    In fact there is within each of us an instinct, if not suppressed, to know this God.

    May I make a small addition to Frank Bellet’s story of the exchange between the Catholic scientist who designed a model of the solar system and his athiestic counterpart.

    As I heard the story there was one further exchange – from the athiest, “Come on, it couldn’t exist if nobody made it”, Rejoinder ‘Well you believe nobody made the real thing.”

    Pat Healy, Hamilton, Vic

  • Thanks tons Bill for this excellent article!
    And hats-off to Antony Flew for his honesty and willingness to ‘go against the flow’.
    None so blind…
    Lisa Severine Nolland

  • Thanks, Bill, for another lovely and inspiring true story. I have been reading that lovely little book Letter from a Christian Citizen (from CMI), where so many of the paltry arguments of the athiests are exposed for what they are. The Lord is teaching me to look deeper into the shallow thinking of people who oppose Him. It is an honour for kings to seek out a matter, and the Christians at Berea were more noble because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was teaching them was correct. In Luke’s account of the wise man who built his house upon the Rock, he first DUG DEEP. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that if we are to become the opinion-formers that God weants us to be, that we cannot settle for shallow thinking, and quick “shooting from the hip” jumps to conclusions. God bless you Bill, and yours.
    Ian Brearley

  • Good report Bill about this Flew. I believe because of his change of belief, many more will see the light and change their ways of life. God says that He hardened the heart of the pharaohs so His power could be demonstrated and that them He wants to deliver may believe.
    I believe this is the case here, that He hardens the hearts of the Flews so that when they change their believes, many may came to Christ. May he suffer for Christ and receive a reward.
    Albert Kamau

  • Bill,

    I’m surprised that evangelical Christians find Flew’s views so encouraging. He has stated many times that he is quite certain that the brutal Gods of Christianity or Islam do not exist, and that there is no afterlife. In fact he finds the concept of a God who would torture people for eternity to be “a violation of the most fundamental principles of merely human justice” and an “appalling nightmare” (BBC Interview, March 2005). Moreover, Flew’s God is something like the God of Aristotle, a distant, impersonal prime mover, perhaps not even conscious, but a mere force.

    Many eminent scientists, e.g. Paul Davies, have also mused about explanations for the laws of physics being as they are. Such speculations are a long way removed from the Christian concept of a personal creator God who involves himself in human affairs.

    Flew is unimpressed with multiverse theories and quantum perturbations and thinks there must be a First Cause for the Big Bang, and he couldn’t conceive of a way for life to arise from inanimate matter. But Flew is a philosopher, not a scientist, and he later retracted his concerns about the origin of life when others informed him about the current state of protobiological science.

    It is well known that Flew didn’t write “There is a God”, contrary to your attribution of him as sole author. It was written by Roy Varghese, a long-time Christian advocate of intelligent design with no academic qualifications, who befriended Flew in recent years. And there are questions about the state of Flew’s mind in his dotage, and the extent to which Varghese and other evangelicals have been “intellectually chaperoning” an old man.
    I strongly suggest you read “The Turning of an Atheist” (NY Times, Nov 4, 2007) for the background behind the latest book:

    Your description of Flew as “the world’s leading atheist” prior to 2004 is also questionable. He may well be prominent in philosophical circles, but was never a militant or polemical atheist in the Dawkins mould, nor was he an “anti-theist” as you seem to suggest most atheists are.

    In summary, the fact that one man who was previously atheist has turned to deism is hardly much comfort for those who proclaim the Christian God. It is also unlikely that any atheists will revise their thinking just because Flew has. His reasons for doing so, and his concept of God, are nebulous at best.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • Why is it not surprising to read your comments Steve? It all sounds a bit like sour grapes. Instead of dealing with his arguments you simply attack his character, and do everything you can to discount and minimise this story. This is just so absolutely typical and expected of atheists. ‘He is just a demented old fool and is being used by others.’ Really Steve, you are scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one. So much for “hard evidence” which you regularly go on about.

    The truth is, atheists just can’t stand it when anyone – especially someone as learned and reasonable as Flew – renounces naturalism. This is simply apostasy in the eyes of the atheists. He is now being excommunicated and persecuted by the First Church of Atheism, just as the Communists denounced and demonised those who dared to question the Party line. Atheistic fundamentalism and zealotry is certainly alive and well here.

    And I did not say Flew (or Davies or others) were Christians, just that they are world class scientists and thinkers who do not embrace the naturalist worldview, and they do so because of the evidence. And of course Varghese took part in the book, as I mentioned. But the fact that you have not been able or willing to rebut any of the claims made in this book shows up the real atheist agenda: pushing a faith-based ideology while ignoring any facts that get in the way of this religious crusade for naturalism.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Steve,

    You responded to Bill: “He [Antony Flew] has stated many times that he is quite certain that the brutal Gods of Christianity or Islam do not exist, and that there is no afterlife.” That was his stance in the past, but the changing Antony Flew is moving towards something not as legalistic as he used to be.

    In his interview with Gary Habermas, Flew said, “I still hope and believe there’s no possibility of an afterlife.” However, there followed this interchange:

    HABERMAS: Actually you have also written to me that these near death experiences “certainly constitute impressive evidence for the possibility of the occurrence of human consciousness independent of any occurrences in the human brain.” [Letter from Antony Flew, September 6, 2000.]

    FLEW: When I came to consider what seemed to me the most impressive of these near death cases I asked myself what is the traditional first question to ask about “psychic” phenomena. It is, “When, where, and by whom were the phenomena first reported?” Some people seem to confuse near death experiences with after death experiences. Where any such near death experiences become relevant to the question of a future life is when and only when they appear to show “the occurrence of human consciousness independent of any occurrences in the human brain.”

    HABERMAS: Elsewhere, you again very kindly noted my influence on your thinking here, regarding these data being decent evidence for human consciousness independent of “electrical activity in the brain.” If some near death experiences are evidenced, independently confirmed experiences during a near death state, even in persons whose heart or brain may not be functioning, isn’t that is quite impressive evidence? Are near death experiences, then, the best evidence for an afterlife?

    FLEW: Oh, yes, certainly. They are basically the only evidence. [http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf ]

    Here Flew is confirming that for him the “near death experiences” are “the only evidence” for an afterlife. I, as an evangelical believer who accepts the authority of Scripture, know that the Bible affirms an afterlife for all human beings, hell or heaven, which was confirmed by Jesus Christ’s resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15:21ff, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive”, v. 22).

    In his 817 pages of research, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress Press 2003), N. T. Wright observed: “No wonder the Herods, the Caesars and the Sadducees of this world, ancient and modern, were and are eager to rule out all possibility of actual resurrection. The are, after all, staking a counter-claim on the real world. It is the real world that the tyrants and bullies (including intellectual and cultural tyrants and bullies) try to rule by force, only to discover that in order to do so they have to quash all rumours of resurrection, rumours that would imply that their greatest weapons, death and destruction, are not after all omnipotent” (p. 737).

    You seem to be supportive of Flew’s view: “He has stated many times that he is quite certain that the brutal Gods of Christianity or Islam do not exist” (your words) How did another atheist respond to “the brutal God” objection to Christianity? The former atheist who became an evangelical Christian, C. S. Lewis, wrote:

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying that it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist–in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless–I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice–was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning” (Mere Christianity, Macmillan 1952, pp. 45-46).

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Spencer,

    It is irrelevant to me what Flew thinks. There are millions of eminent thinkers and scientists around the world who don’t accept the notion of a personal God or an afterlife because they are unable to find any empirical evidence for either of these theories, and because there are simpler explanations for our existence.

    Claims for the existence of supernatural beings or supernatural events such as our survival of death are quite extraordinary claims, notwithstanding the mere opinions of CS Lewis or any other “authority” you may care to name. Opinions or philosophies count for nothing unless they are backed up by empirical evidence, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    You quote Flew as saying that near-death experiences are the only evidence for an afterlife as if this is supposed to be convincing. It seems the exact opposite to me. Maybe Flew was even being sarcastic.

    There are scientific explanations for subjective near-death experiences, mostly involving hallucinations as the neurotransmitters in the brain shut down.

    It is quite wrong-headed for evangelicals to embrace Flew, or indeed any call to “authority” as if his views change anything. It is only a subjective opinion of one individual, and his god is far removed from the Christian God. Perhaps if he had said “There is a Thoth”, evangelicals would be less enthusiastic about him.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • Thanks Steve

    But with all due respect, your comments are getting more and more irrational and bizarre with each new post. You really seem to have run out of any logical ammunition to take on Flew, and are now, like a caged animal, simply lashing out wildly in all directions. You seem quite incapable of addressing any actual argument that Flew is raising. Atheists sure get agitated when one of their own renounces atheism.

    You say that there are “millions of eminent thinkers and scientists around the world who don’t accept the notion of a personal God or an afterlife”. So what? While one could equally argue that there are millions of eminent thinkers and scientists who do, that is in one sense quite beside the point. Since when is truth determined by mere numbers? Do majorities determine what is true and false, right and wrong?

    And you dismiss Flew with this incredibly juvenile remark: it is “only a subjective opinion of one individual”. So what are you suggesting? When it comes to Flew, or anyone who happens to disagree with you, you just say this is mere subjective opinion. But what of your “millions”? Is not their opinion just as subjective as well? Or is their opinion somehow objective, because it lines up with your exceedingly narrow ideology?

    You can’t have it both ways. If all claims are ultimately subjective opinion, then why should we listen to anyone? Why should we listen to you? You should just keep silent, as should everyone else, if all we have is subjective opinion.

    And please stop with the red herring about Flew not being a biblical Christian. Nobody said he was. That is beside the point. He is now no longer an atheist and a materialist, but a theist, and that is the issue we are debating here. Upon a careful examination of the scientific evidence, he has concluded that philosophical naturalism is simply intellectually untenable. That is the whole concern of this discussion. Flew, like billions of others (if you are into numbers) has argued for some transcendental reality. He now believes that there is more to reality than only the natural realm. Only a tiny minority are reductionists like yourself reject anything that is not material.

    Can I humbly suggest that if you spent as much time actually examining the evidence with an open mind – as Flew did – instead of huffing and puffing on other people’s websites, you might actually come to a knowledge of the truth. But whether hard core atheists in fact are actually interested in the truth, or in just zealously pushing their religion of naturalism is a moot point.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks for the review Bill, I will have to read this book.

    Steve Angelino, if what Flew has to say is irrelevant, what makes what you have to say relevant? How do your credentials match up to his? Perhaps your ability to think for yourself is impaired, as you suggest Flew’s is? As Bill and others have pointed out, attacking a person without addressing their arguments proves nothing. Also, the fact that many people believe something does not, in and of itself, mean we should as well. In the past, many people believed that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects, but every one of them was mistaken.

    You say, “Opinions or philosophies count for nothing unless they are backed up by empirical evidence, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” If you hold to this statement, may I suggest you apply this statement to your own naturalistic beliefs? And I mean seriously; read the critics (such as CMI) of current naturalist “opinions and philosophies” as well as the proponents. After all, if I may borrow your phrasing: claims for the naturalistic origin of life or the universe such as chemical evolution or the big bang are quite extraordinary claims, notwithstanding the mere opinions of Richard Dawkins or any other “authority” you may care to name. Perhaps you already have, in that case I applaud you, but plead with you to at least concede that you have no more “empirical evidence” to support your atheistic view of origins than we do for our theistic view. Nothing about origins can be scientifically or empirically “proven,” because we cannot test it, or even observe it directly.

    Samuel Sparks, Qld

  • Steve,

    You wrote, “It is quite wrong-headed for evangelicals to embrace Flew, or indeed any call to “authority” as if his views change anything. It is only a subjective opinion of one individual, and his god is far removed from the Christian God.”

    I’m convinced that you don’t carefully read what evangelicals have written on this site. Not once has any of us affirmed that Antony Flew has become an evangelical. I am not embracing Flew as an evangelical, but as a philosophical atheist who was honest enough with the evidence to change his mind.

    Flew has given his evidence on why he has moved from atheism to theism and you want to write that off as “subjective opinion” because it doesn’t satisfy your predetermined “empirical evidence.” You want God demonstrated in an empirical test tube! That’s your limited, naturalistic world and life view speaking. It’s time that you got real about the many other types of evidence available to substantiate facts – historical facts being just one example. Evidence for my wife’s love for me is not “empirical.”

    I notice that you haven’t given up using assertions such as, ” It is quite wrong-headed for evangelicals to embrace Flew.”

    You stated: “Opinions or philosophies count for nothing unless they are backed up by empirical evidence, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Which “empirical evidence” will you use to prove that Martin Luther died on 18th February, 1546?

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Bill,

    I don’t understand your reference to “huffing and puffing on other people’s websites”. If you only want comments from people who agree with your point of view you should say so, or else censor contrary views and I’ll get the message and go away. I am only presenting my opinions. I am not attacking you or anyone else. And why is that only non-believers are required to have an open mind?

    Samuel,
    There is observable evidence for evolution and the big bang. There is no evidence for creation or intelligent design – it’s just the same old argument from incredulity.

    Spencer,
    You misunderstand the meaning of the word empirical when you assert that evidence of your wife’s love for you is not “empirical”. There are numerous ways in which an objective observer could document and present evidence of such love, and that evidence could be examined by others to determine if it holds up under scrutiny. Empirical means observable by the senses.

    As for Martin Luther, presumably one could thoroughly investigate the official records and witnesses and be reasonably satisfied that the facts are as stated. But the facts there are uncontroversial and unremarkable. If someone claimed Luther rose again 3 days later, that would be an extraordinary claim, and therefore require far more rigorous evidence to support it.

    No one even knows the date of Christ’s alleged death, and the stories about his life are written under pseudonyms by unknown authors based on hearsay. Extraordinary claims are made in those stories, and the evidence therefore needs to be rigorous and absolutely irrefutable. It isn’t, and that’s why I assert that Christians believe because they want to believe. Isn’t that why it’s called Faith?

    If the evidence was incontrovertible, everybody would be a Christian. And if there really is an all-powerful God who demands belief in him under threat of eternal torture, he could easily provide direct empirical evidence that no one could refute.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • Thanks Steve

    But you continue to miss the point and head down dead-end trails. Let’s start with your first claim, which is yet again another red herring. If I really wanted only commentators on this site who agreed with me, then please inform me why I have allowed you on time and time again. Please spare us such foolish and disingenuous remarks.

    And your demands for hard evidence are simply silly. Do you demand that same hard proof for any other figure in antiquity? Do you doubt that Alexander the Great existed? Or Aristotle? Or Philo? The truth is, there is no other figure in antiquity that has such good historical credentials and confirmation as Jesus. Yet you refuse to even examine the evidence, but instead demand proofs of him that you do not demand of any other figure of two millennia ago. Once again your biases, and faith commitment to anti-theism, are all too apparent. It is not a question of the evidence being too sparse. There is plenty of evidence. The truth is you simply do not want to believe. You already seem to have your mind made up. In which case there is no point in continuing this discussion.

    The same issue of evidence applies to the question of God’s existence. The evidence for God is so persuasive that even a hardened atheist like Flew can see that he exists, after a genuine and honest examination of the evidence. But that appears to be something that you refuse to do. So please spare us this mantra about atheists being only interested in facts and evidence. Some are, but most it seems are not. Atheism is a faith-based worldview, held to just as dogmatically and fundamentally as any religious believer.

    And if God exists, then we of course should come to him on his terms, not ours. And humility would suggest that if God exists, he is perfectly entitled to decide how he can and should be approached. This is just what Scripture informs us. We are told that God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud. This is a perfectly sensible thing for God to do, and it explains why atheists find God so problematic. Atheists in their pride and arrogance think they can boss God around, when instead if God is God, he can and should boss us around. You presume to put God in the dock. But as C S Lewis reminds us, it is we who are in the dock, not God. The pride of the creature in reference to the creator is like the pot telling the potter (another biblical reference) how he should do his job. Once again, pride and self-deception are behind such foolish claims.

    Finally, it is not in the end intellectual objections that keep people from faith. It is really a question of will, and of morality. People do not reject Christ because of lack of evidence. They do not come because they refuse to. As Jesus said, “you will not come to me to have eternal life” (John 5:40).

    And people refuse to come to Jesus because they are living in darkness, and the light of Christ exposes their darkness. “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3: 19-20). Those are the real reasons for unbelief.

    As Flew discovered, the evidence for theism is clearly there. But if someone has already made up his or her mind, and refuses to believe, then God will not violate their free will. He will never force you to believe. All the evidence that is needed for belief is there for the honest searcher. But for those who have a pre-commitment to naturalism, no amount of evidence will sway them to abandon their anti-theistic faith.

    Thus these posts are now becoming a bit tedious and pointless. Many here, including world-class intellects like Flew, have made the case for the reasonableness of theism. If you choose not to even examine the evidence with an open mind, then you are wasting your time and my time by going on with these comments. So the ball is in your court. If you simply want to argue for argument’s sake, or for ego’s sake, and refuse to even consider the evidence, then perhaps you might better spend your time elsewhere.

    As I have told other atheists, I am more than happy to discuss issues with those who are open minded and genuinely interested in pursuing truth no matter where it leads. But for those simply interested in intellectual gymnastics, I am just not interested. Life is too short and truth is too important to engage in such games.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I have read enough of Flew’s work to conclude that the god he describes show little in common with that of the Christian God. For Christians to claim a conversion is really stretching it. I would have thought that Christians would be atheistic to the god Flew describes! Anyway, about his latest book. As yet I have not read it but I have been doing a bit of a background check about the book. As we know Roy Abraham Varghese is a co-author of the book. I am not sure what co-author means but he is someone who has had influence over the book. When asked, it appears that Flew knows very little about the contents of his last book though it has been said that he has read it multiple times. Hmmm, what to believe?? It does seems a bit fishy! If anyone is interested in the truth I would strongly suggest you read the articles and make up your own mind.
    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    Atheistic obstructionism is really getting to be tedious here. Probably at least 10 times now, both in the article and in the many comments, it has been clearly stated that Flew is not a Christian and has never claimed to be. So why in the world do you and other atheists keep dragging up this red herring? We really have to start questioning the honesty and integrity of atheists when they keep doing this. Either atheists are unable to read, and not very bright, or are being deliberately deceptive when they pull such stunts. It really does get to be tiring, and I will not allow such disingenuous and deceptive comments on any more.

    And your tired old nonsense about Flew just being demented and senile is another case of atheist dishonesty and deception. It is simply a case of shooting the messenger instead of dealing with the message. I predicted this would happen, and that is all you atheists have done on this site thus far.

    What an irrational and illogical bunch these atheists are. They refuse to deal with the arguments, but simply attack the person. I take this as pretty convincing proof that atheists are not interested in truth, in reason, or facts, but simply want to push their anti-theist agenda. And I take this as pretty conclusive proof that atheism is all bluster and show, lacking in any substance whatsoever. Indeed, I take this as clear evidence that atheists are really about living by faith (in their anti-theist pre-commitments). They are religious fundamentalists in the fullest sense of the term.

    I certainly will not post your links to these attacks on Flew. They have been rebutted by Flew, by his publisher, and by many others. The absolute intellectual emptiness of atheism should be apparent to everyone by now. Atheists have been the best argument against atheism that I have yet encountered.

    And yes, it is perfectly clear that you have not read the book. I really am beginning to doubt that you ever will. But with all due respect, it seems that until you do read it, you really should stop pontificating to us about it. This is really the height of intellectual dishonesty and arrogance. And if you ever do read the book, please have the courtesy and intellectual integrity to actually respond to the arguments being made, and stop the foolish character assassination.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill & Steve,

    Bill, thanks for taking the time to debate Steve’s red herrings. Steve, I sincerely appreciate your coming onto this blog site and presenting your ideas but you have failed to debate the strengths and weaknesses of your worldview — empiricism. Your very limited worldview is evident in these kinds of statements:

    • “There are millions of eminent thinkers and scientists around the world who don’t accept the notion of a personal God or an afterlife because they are unable to find any empirical evidence for either of these theories, and because there are simpler explanations for our existence.”

    • “Claims for the existence of supernatural beings or supernatural events such as our survival of death are quite extraordinary claims . . . Opinions or philosophies count for nothing unless they are backed up by empirical evidence, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Your sole acceptance of empiricism to determine truths about things other than physical science, reminds me of Richard Whately’s pamphlet that was written to poke fun at David Hume’s idea of natural law. Your support of the empirical method and only the empirical method is a prime target for the content of Whately’s pamphlet.

    Whately explained some of the incredible exploits of Napoleon’s career and demonstrated that this information would be so outlandish, incredible and unprecedented that no intelligent person would believe that such a famous historical person as Napoleon ever existed. Napoleon would be placed in the same category as Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill.

    Whately’s point was to demonstrate that if the skeptic will not deny the existence of Napoleon, then he “must at least acknowledge that they do not apply to that question the same plan of reasoning which they have made use of in others” [Richard Whately, “Historical Doubts Concerning the Existence of Napoleon Bonaparte,” in “Famous Pamphlets,” 2nd edn., edited by Henry Morley, George Routledge and Sons, London, 1880, p. 290.]

    Steve, your empiricism suffers from this kind of Napoleonic misconception – not all evidence in our world can be tested according to the empirical method. I am the last to debunk empiricism as the success of science in our modern world is self-evident. I would not be typing this response if it were not for the empirical studies that confirmed the necessity for my use of warfarin as a medication following my heart surgeries – replacement of my mitral – through 4 surgeries.

    However, the empirical method is inadequate when examining historical and religious questions. You have such a fixation on the empirical method that you cannot resolve many of the important facts of history (e.g. Jesus Christ, my wife’s love for me, and a host of other important matters).

    It is here that we on this blog are faced with your presuppositions and your predispositions increase in intensity as your world and life view is challenged. I understand this as it happens both ways. When you challenge my Christian world and life view with sole reliance on empiricism, I come to the defense of a view that empiricism is not able to test truth claims in areas of God, Christian faith and other truth claims.

    Empiricism is an important dimension of my epistemology in understanding human knowledge, but it is not adequate when examining the truth about God, Jesus Christ and Napoleon Bonaparte.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Steve,

    Here you are, an atheist who does not want to believe the Scriptures, but you are prepared to make this kind of one-eyed statement:

    • “and the stories about his [Jesus] life are written under pseudonyms by unknown authors based on hearsay.”

    Richard Bauckham has spent a lifetime of research in biblical studies, including the Gospels, and he refutes your view with researched evidence in, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans 2006). Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, writing in the early 2nd century (as recorded in early historian, Eusebius), preferred “information from a living and surviving voice” over “information from books” (in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.39.3-4, available from: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.xxxix.html ).

    Bauckham’s research demonstrates that by “a living and surviving voice,” Papias “is not speaking metaphorically of the ‘voice’ of oral tradition, as many scholars have supposed. He speaks quite literally of the voice of an informant – someone who has personal memories of the words and deeds of Jesus and who is still alive” (p. 27). This repudiates your idea that this was based on “hearsay” evidence. Luke’s Gospel confirms that he obtained his evidence also from “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word . . .” (Luke 1:2).

    As for the Gospel stories being “written under pseudonyms,” Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (second century), disagrees, stating that “the Gospels are four in number” and these are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (Against Heresies, 3.11.8, available from: http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-01/anf01-57.htm#P6151_1380339 )

    You again refuse to understand biblical Christianity with your statement: “Christians believe because they want to believe. Isn’t that why it’s called Faith?” Faith that is not based on fact is fantasy. My evangelical faith is based on the facts of Christianity, not some fanciful atheistic interpretation like yours.

    You state, “Extraordinary claims are made in those stories, and the evidence therefore needs to be rigorous and absolutely irrefutable.” This proves your failure to understand the nature of historical evidence. “Absolutely irrefutable” is something that is not possible with historiography, unless God, the sovereign, omnipotent, all-knowing, absolutely truthful One is the author. And that’s what the Scriptures claim that “All Scripture is breathed-out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). Extraordinary claims can be verified through regular historical evidence, as long as your historiography does not exclude all of the evidence, based on your presuppositions.

    You are not likely to accept this evidence because your worldview censors it.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Steve,

    You claim “extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence”, but then you want to preach evolution! I find it laughable and pathetic that for 150 years of this ridiculous faith you have zero to show for it. Really, absolutely nothing. How many scientists have created in a lab what naturalists postulate mere elements left to their own devices created? And yet, we have life existing, with all its abundant numbers and diversity – and the ability to self-reproduce. (How many man-made objects come with that feature?) What does this tell you about the so-called brilliance of the current total body of human scientific knowledge when you effectively admit that natural chemistry left to itself is much smarter than it?

    (Reading Steve’s comments laud evolution as scientific is like listening to a player or coach at a post-match sports conference talking about how great his team played when in reality they were beaten by a record score to nothing. It’s absurd.)

    Steve, when are you going to grow a backbone in integrity and do what Flew and other have done and follow the evidence where it leads? Flew may not be a Christian – yet – but plenty of other people exist who are who made a similar journey and impress me more than you. The key issue is accepting that it is God’s universe and it is His choice as to how He wants to reveal Himself to us, and we as tiny humans don’t get any say in that. But you still want to stamp your feet and have God do your bidding on the basis of your great science, which as I’ve shown, is comparatively almost worthless. Have you got any idea Who it is you’re talking about? You should be glad He’s still willing to hear from you. But stop wasting time with your terrible arguments.

    Mark Rabich

  • Observable evidence of the big bang? Quite a claim. For the big bang to provide a naturalistic (no-god) origin of the universe and it’s laws, it must start with nothing (absolutely nothing) and result in matter and the laws of physics. Claiming that the universe exploded from a singularity entirely misses the point. Where did the singularity come from, some sort of quantum event? If so, where did quantum mechanics come from? You can never explain the origin of matter and the laws of physics purely with the laws of physics. All you get is an endless chain of theories explaining theories. Simply put, it takes a great deal of faith to believe that something can arise from nothing without any kind of supernatural intervention. Indeed, as you say, I am incredulous!

    And this is not the only flaw in the big bang theory. It does not adequately explain how stars and galaxies formed from the post-bang universe. It even has it’s own starlight travel problems, a problem that big-bangers like to point out in the creation model. I make assertions here which I cannot back up sufficiently in this space, but I can recommend Dismantling the Big Bang by Williams and Hartnett on the subject (available from CMI).

    You cannot claim to have more empirical evidence to support naturalistic origins. Everyone has the same amount of empirical evidence to use. The fact is that every piece of evidence found today must be interpreted. Various theories are proposed on how a piece of evidence fits the views of the interpreter. Thus, it is not a battle of who has the most empirical evidence. It is in truth a battle of interpretation: whose model of origins best explains the empirical evidence? Thus, the “we have all the evidence” line means nothing in this debate.

    Samuel Sparks, Qld

  • Bill,

    There was another atheist who not only moved from atheism to theism, but also to evangelical Christianity. He studied chemistry at Oxford University and now teaches theology at Oxford.

    I’m writing of Alister McGrath. He has an online article, “Breaking the Science-Atheism Bond,” that is revealing in why he moved from atheism to Christ: http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/09/23/alister-mcgrath-from-atheist-to-christian-believer/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.beliefnet.com%2Fstory%2F172%2Fstory_17216_1.html&frame=true

    McGrath is a thoughtful atheist who reconsidered the evidence. I have his book, Bridge-Building: Communicating Christianity Effectively (IVP 1992) in which he states that “atheism rests upon the belief (not the proven certainty) that there is no God. There is no proof – philosophical or experimental – that there is no God. The atheist’s decision is a matter of faith, even if that atheist fails to realize that this is the case” (p. 116).

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Antony Flew responded to those ridiculous New York Times allegations:

    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.

    Harper One deputy publisher Mark Tauber also said:

    We stand behind this book. Roy Varghese took Tony’s thoughts and put them in publishable form. This is not an unusual practice.

    It is not surprising that the New York Times would hate Flew for abandoning atheism—this is the paper whose reporter Walter Duranty whitewashed the murders, famines and show-trials of ‘the greatest
    living statesman’
    , another atheist, Stalin, and won the Pulitzer Prize, which the Times still displays.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Bill, Spencer and others,

    Bill said:
    “And your demands for hard evidence are simply silly. Do you demand that same hard proof for any other figure in antiquity? Do you doubt that Alexander the Great existed? Or Aristotle? Or Philo?”

    Firstly, evidence is not the same as proof. You may dismiss this as a trivial mistake, but it suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of science and reason.

    The reason I don’t demand more evidence for the existence of Alexander the Great, Aristotle, or Philo is because they made no claims to possess supernatural powers. Furthermore, we have busts and images of these men created by contemporaries who knew them, and we have extant writings by Aristotle and Philo. This is more than we have to support the historicity of Jesus. There are, for example, no contemporaneous images of him, nor any writings attributed to him.

    But the fundamental question is not the evidence for Christ’s existence, but the evidence supporting the claims that he possessed supernatural powers. As I have said previously, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Those who claim that well-established laws of physics and chemistry have been suspended at various times in human history, and who expect others to believe those claims, should surely be unsurprised that their claims should be subject to a higher standard of scrutiny than merely natural historical events. Yet you and others here suggest that my expectations in this regard are unreasonable.

    Claims for the working of miracles (which I would define as any supernatural event) occur throughout the history of humanity. Yet the alleged evidence for miracles is invariably questionable and rarely subjectible to rigorous examination. Claims are made even today by certain preachers that they can heal diseases, but the alleged “cures” are always subjective and, even if true, could be a result of the natural healing properties of the human body. There are never serious claims involving the miraculous regrowth of an amputated limb for example. It is very difficult for an intelligent, objective outsider to lend any credence to such miraculous claims.

    Similarly with the claims made by religions that the human consciousness or soul can survive death, when everything we know about human consciousness strongly indicates that its functions are intimately connected with physical parts of the brain, and therefore ceases with death. Christians may quote Biblical passages ad infinitum to justify their belief in eternal life, but ultimately this belief cannot be substantiated with any empirical evidence.

    These matters demonstrate the kind of problem that I have with claims that religious belief can be supported by evidence. Bill says “the evidence for God is so persuasive that even a hardened atheist like Flew can see that he exists, after a genuine and honest examination of the evidence”. But Spencer says “empiricism is not able to test truth claims in areas of God, Christian faith and other truth claims”. These two statements seem contradictory to me, and the appeal to authority inherent in Bill’s statement is unpersuasive. Flew’s main argument centres around First Cause, and the assignment of a supernatural intelligence as the only possible theory to explain the origin of the Big Bang is a philosophical or metaphysical position, not a scientific one.

    All theories of the ultimate origin of the Universe are by nature untestable and inherently unknowable. Those who are convinced of the existence of a supernatural and omnipotent intelligence are entitled to their belief. But they are not entitled to condemn those like me who want to see some evidence. Bill, I would most certainly classify myself as one of “those who are open minded and genuinely interested in pursuing truth no matter where it leads”. In that respect I am quite willing to consider any empirical evidence for the existence of the supernatural. But the mere quotation of passages from scripture does not qualify as evidence for such an extraordinary hypothesis.

    Steve Angelino, WA

  • Thanks Steve

    But this is old ground again. Your basic claim needs to be challenged. Only if a person has a pre-commitment to naturalism does anything not naturalistic appear extraordinary. You have simply decided ahead of time that the physical world is all there is, so there is no metaphysical. You have taken as a faith commitment that nature is all there is, so there is no supernatural. So obviously, with such a reductionist worldview (which has nothing to do with science, by the way, but scientism), you find any mention of the supernatural to be extraordinary. Thus this is simply a function of your naturalist bias, not of scientific or historical methodology.

    Sure, because miracles are by their very nature rare, one normally looks for naturalistic explanations first. But ruling out supernatural explanations altogether is not about real science, but about the presuppositions a person holds. There is nothing wrong with preferring naturalistic explanations for the most part, as long as one is open to other explanations. It is only if one has decided in advance that there is no supernatural order that can in fact break into the natural order, that science and reason is being abandoned in favour of ideology.

    And the whole issue of the miraculous deeds of Jesus, culminating in the empty tomb and the post-resurrection appearances by numerous eyewitnesses demands that we look to all relevant explanations, and not straightjacket the evidence by our materialist biases. Real scientific and historical investigations deal with all the data, examine all the evidence, and seek to find the most probable explanations for them.

    As has been said time and time again here, the evidence for the life, miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus is compelling and substantial. Thus in the end there are only two options: actually look at that evidence with an open mind, and follow the evidence where it leads – as Flew did with theism – or decide ahead of time that this evidence will not be followed, because of faith-based commitments to naturalism.

    The choice is really yours Steve. There is really little left to say on this subject. If you have already made up your mind, without even being willing to look at the evidence, then we are simply wasting each other’s time here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    I did not mean to infer that Antony Flew’s conversion was to Christianity. I know this is not true. His conversion was to a version of deism. I do find it a bit strange that some Christian groups on the net (not you) have somewhat tried to turn him into a bit of a “poster boy”. I am not sure why?? The theology involved with theism and deism though similar in some aspects are quite different. I would have thought Theists would be Atheistic to the Deists god?? I have also noted that many people interchange the term diesm and theism as if they are the same thing. Deism can be seen as a subset of theism but surely they are not interchangeable.

    I am also not sure what your definition of Atheism is? Whom do you see as Atheists? Hindus, Buddhists etc ? All of these people hold a different world view to you. Do you also view these communities with such contempt? If so, that is very worrying. I also object to you trying to make comparisons between not believing in God(s) and religious fundamentalisms. The motives and ideas for each are very very different. Your obvious disdain for people who do not share your own thoughts is very worrisome. It seems to fly in the face of what Christianity is all about.

    In terms of deleting the links, well that is your choice. If I am not familiar with an author before I read a book then I will often do some research on them so I can read the book with some context. I was not commenting on the book per say but trying to add some background context to the book. Richard Carriers notes over the last few years are interesting to read. It does not necessarily mean I agree with them though! I do have a ? over Varghese and his motives. This is the bumble bee man so I am not sure how much credibility this fellow has. Bill, I ask you a serious question. Would you get a person to write about your philosophical view of the world? I would have thought that would be be too personal a thing for someone else to write about. It just seems like a strange thing to do and I know I would not let anybody do it for me especially someone that holds an opposing view.

    Anyway, I am waiting for the book to arrive at my library.

    Ben Green

  • Steve,

    You wrote: >

    This is an irrational approach to examining anything from history. Excluding what one does not want to find or is embarrassed about a possible find, is not a scientific approach to historiography. That’s called special pleading.

    Again, you show your irrationality: >

    The fundamental question is: What does an open, honest investigation reveal? Ordinary investigation obviously finds extraordinary claims with Jesus Christ, but finding extraordinary evidence from ordinary investigation is what open historiography finds.

    Admit it! You are a naturalist and you will not listen to the evidence found by ordinary investigation that uncovers supernatural claims in history. Again, this is special pleading.

    This is a red herring from you: > That’s a presuppositonal, anti-supernaturalist speaking. One who imposes his presuppositions on historical investigation!

    You wrote: > You’re wrong again Steve because your world and life view will not allow revelational knowledge from God. Thus your presuppositions prevent access to ALL of the evidence.

    If you would only let yourself be open to all of the evidence, you would be surprised how God’s view of the universe fits like a hand in a glove.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Thanks Ben

    But I am afraid you are doing it again. Instead of dealing with the argument, you attack the person. Why is it if someone simply seeks to defend his or her point of view, it is called being contemptuous? I might as well ask you why you are being contemptuous of me. Indeed, yours is a loaded question which is not at all helpful. It is a bit like asking, ‘have you stopped beating your wife yet?’ Please stop this silliness if you want to post here.

    The reason many people hold to worldviews seriously is because truth claims are involved. You don’t get into big arguments over your favourite ice cream. But truth claims which have eternal implications are important, and should be argued for.

    And the significance of Flew is that he is a world class intellect who has now abandoned his atheism which he so vigorously held for 6 decades. It is the shift from atheism to theism which is the issue here, and that is a tremendous shift of great significance. So please stop the red herrings here about Christianity.

    I also see no big deal in collaborating on a book with others. No problems there at all.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Richard Carrier is hardly to be trusted. His comments defending chemical evolution against Flew’s realization that it is bunk are ludicrous to a chemist like me. Greek expert Dr Daniel Wallace also takes him to task for sophomoric translations of some New Testament passages.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Doesn’t mean much to me…people have defected from either camp. Farrell Till, Dan Barker, and even a friend of Billy Graham, Chuck Templeton left the christian fold and became athiests.

    Flew isnt’ even a christian yet. In your worldview, if he dies now, he’ll still burn in hell.

    It seems you people are making way too much out of this.

    Reynold Hall, Edmonton, AB, Canada

  • Thanks Reynold

    But having dealt with your complaint (Flew not being a Christian – yet) at least a half dozen times here, I can only conclude that atheist reading skills are as weak as their reasoning skills.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hey Bill. Thanks for your excellent reviews on books such as this. It is disappointing that bookshops only profile the books biased towards atheism and not theism. Francis Collins new book got some airtime in Borders but not much else.

    I caught up with a leading skeptic in NZ last year (Bill Cooke). He was very critical of Alistair McGrath. Having read his book ‘The Twlight of Atheism’, he felt McGrath was very dishonest and didn’t engage with any of the leading atheists (in his opinion) of the 20th century. He cited people such as JL Mackie, Michael Martin, Wallace Matson, John Dewey, and Sydney Hook. I wasn’t familiar with these people or their works so couldn’t comment. Any comments from you?

    Mark Conner

  • Thanks Mark

    In reply to your critic, and in fairness to McGrath, I would argue that it was not his main purpose to engage with every atheist and every atheist argument in this book. It was more of an historical and ideological overview. The only unfortunate aspect to this book is that it appeared just before the deluge of books from the new militant atheists. But since Harris, Hitchens, et. al. appeared on the scene, McGrath has penned two more books dealing with the new assault in detail (specifically with Dawkins).

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Perhaps others on here can help? I am trying to find the actual press release from Harper One in which Mark Tauber makes the comment: “We stand behind this book. Roy Varghese took Tony’s thoughts and put them in publishable form. This is not an unusual practice.”

    Every search I’ve done only shows the text as quoted and is attributed to Mark Tauber, but never is a source linked to.

    I would hate to think that we Christians are a rotten bunch for having fabricated something that ought not to have been fabricated …

    Mathew Hamilton

  • Thanks Mathew

    No there is no fabrication going on here. Try this link for starters: http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/i-liked-the-old-atheists-better/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks, Bill.

    I’ve seen that blog entry and others like it. I would have liked a linked back to the original source of those, especially as the charge is that those comments first appeared on a book review of “There is a God’ on amazon.com and have never appeared in a press release from Harper One.

    Regardless, I’ve made an effort to try to contact Mark Tauber directly. I’ll see where that leads.

    Mathew Hamilton

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