“Famous Atheist Now Believes In God” from ABC News

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s submitted this by now…

A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence…

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

Flew said he’s best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people’s lives.

“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,” he said. “It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose.”

His thoughts bring up an interesting discussion: Can atheism and deism be one and the same? Since atheism puts its faith in science, could the concept of a God be rationalized scientifically? As simplistic an idea as that we’re a just a botched science experiment in a much more grandiose world, or that scenarios played out in movies like “The Matrix” could indeed be real.

The article goes on to point our that Flew “still does not believe in an afterlife.”

Yet biologists’ investigation of DNA “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved,” Flew says…

Here’s the whole article from ABC News/Associated Press.

64 thoughts on ““Famous Atheist Now Believes In God” from ABC News

  1. I asked him point blank what he would mean if he ever asserted that “probably God exists,” to which he responded (in a letter in his own hand, dated 19 October 2004):

    “I do not think I will ever make that assertion, precisely because any assertion which I am prepared to make about God would not be about a God in that sense … 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”.

    Id say at worst he is either going slightly senile or possibly building up a bit of publicity for his upcoming book by getting the Christian jaws a flapping, before he comes out and says in the foreword “Just Kidding”.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v418/n6894/pdf/418214.pdf

    either way he certainly does NOT believe in any alleged God of ANY organized religion, he is also disregarding the RNA hypothesis of creating reproducing organisms.

    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.

    Well there is very good evidence of RNA performing this job in early organisms in combination later on with DNA.

    http://www.scripps.edu/research/faculty.php?tsri_id=1160

    http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/2948/orgel.html

    http://www.biology-online.org/10/1_first_life.htm

    The Hypothesis of the first reproducing species happening like this is without question far more plausible than some superbogeyman waving his magic wand.

    Im thinking he is merely causing hype to sell his upcoming book.

  2. Id say at worst he is either going slightly senile or possibly building up a bit of publicity for his upcoming book by getting the Christian jaws a flapping,

    You’re not the first one to entertain that idea. Then again, rumors have been planted before.

    Anyway, until such time as he actually publishes his book, video, or whatever, there’s not much of substance to talk about.

  3. elwed: there’s not much of substance to talk about.

    But hey, when did that ever stop us?  Let’s just go on whistling in the graveyard, as Consi might say, to keep at bay the feeling we all have in our heart of hearts that we are going to regret having snubbed Jesus when the flames lick our toes…

  4. Thanks for the link Theo.  It was a very enlightening interview.  Unfortunately, many fundamentalist groups are seeing this as somewhat of a coup when in reality it’s closer to move from atheism to agnosticism.

    Personally, I would much rather see individuals that need to believe in something, convert to deism versus the more destructive Christianity.

  5. To Justice’s point on ABC finding this newsworthy….don’t forget, this is the same network who’s “science” reporter is now born again and selling perpetual motion machines. (Michael Guillen) Their medical reporter (Tim Johnson) is also a priest or minister of some sort. Nice.

  6. I would like to know more about this ‘a-religous’ concept.  Maybe I am dumb, but i always assumed that everyone was religous in some way, wheither they believed in a god or not.  Dictionary.com defines religion as “3.  A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. ”  This is what I mean when I say religion.  Maybe I am just sick because my ‘spiritual leaders’ happen to be sites like this one? Les and that Pig guy seem to make excellent spiritual leaders to me.

  7. You know, this Anthony Flew guy is so famous that I had never heard of him before some fundamental Christian in a chat room began taunting me about his “conversion”.

    Interestingly, when I asked the guy who Flew was he could only reply “an atheist” which I assume is all he managed to glean from the ABC article.

    It’s not a very funny or interesting anecdote, but it sticks in my mind.

  8. spatula,
    According to what anthropologists generally accept as the definition of religion, it must also include belief in (though not necessarily worship of) a supernatural being or beings.
    So atheists don’t really fit the bill unless they believe in other things, like fairies or spirits…most people who identify as atheists tend not to believe in anything supernatural, and most who believe in fairies et al. would identify themselves with another name…

    I agree that Les is a fine leader, though. smile

  9. I bet this is answered somewhere, but what really IS a supernatural being?  I mean, would bigfoot qualify? Or aliens?  It seems awfully silly that you claim that me sacrificing chickens to Satan is not a religous practice if I do not believe in Satan nor god and am really just doing it to piss off christains.  I mean, dont atheists have a right to claim religion and thereby enjoy the same legal priviledges as organized churches?

    I think I am sounding too much like all you atheists, I dont mean to, I am really shooting for heretical.  When cornered I must say that I am a christian, but I truely despise organized religion and do not wish to be associated with those assholes in any way.

  10. what really IS a supernatural being?  I mean, would bigfoot qualify? Or aliens?

    No.  Bigfoot is a guy in an ill-fitting gorilla costume, and aliens are either gussied-up humans, animations, imaginary, or real beings existing far far away.  Supernatural beings include the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, God, and Saddam’s WMD.

  11. Saddam’s WMDs: I see. They require faith alone; any actual proof of their existence would destroy the basis of faith, therefore they are hiding themselves from the believers.

  12. Can atheism and deism be one and the same?

    Sure Atheists and Deists can be one and the same, at least in how they approach the same subject.  There’s even a new group that joins the two (along with Agnostics, Pantheists, and Transcendentalists) under one freethinker umbrella call Universism.

  13. Sure Atheists and Deists can be one and the same, at least in how they approach the same subject.

    Well… there are probably lots of Deists who have the same opinion I do of Macdonald’s, but uniting us under the “umbrella of Universism” makes as much sense as saying that we will all burn in hell together because we haven’t accepted Christ: a rather large and unwieldly umbrella if you ask me.

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