Former Atheist, Antony Flew, Dies at 87
For many years, Antony Flew reigned as arguably the most able defender of atheism in the world. In fact, the subheading of one of Flew’s last books described him as “the world’s most notorious atheist” (Flew and Varghese, 2007). Flew’s monumental paper “Theology and Falsification,” which he “first presented at a 1950 meeting of the Oxford University Socratic Club chaired by C.S. Lewis, became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last century” (2007, pp. vii-viii, emp. added). He authored more than 30 books, including his now-famous The Presumption of Atheism (“Antony Flew…,” 2010).
In spite of his atheistic teaching and writings, Flew rocked the atheistic community in 2004 when he announced that he had changed his mind (see Miller, 2004). He concluded that enough evidence had accrued to prove that some type of intelligent designer must be behind the origin of the Universe. In his book, There Is a God, co-written with Roy Varghese, Flew wrote:
The leaders of science over the last hundred years, along with some of today’s most influential scientists, have built a philosophically compelling vision of a rational universe that sprang from a divine Mind. As it happens, this is the particular view of the world that I now find to be the soundest philosophical explanation of the multitude of phenomena encountered by scientists and laypeople alike (2007, p. 91).
Of course, the atheistic community did not appreciate his “conversion.” Some prominent atheists accused him of being senile and attempted to downplay his book, claiming that he did not write much of it, but simply put his name on the material Roy Varghese wrote. Flew responded by explaining that he was not senile, and that the evidence for a divine Mind was inescapable.
Flew’s courageous decision to defy the atheistic community and admit that the evidence demands a divine Creator is commendable. His bravery brought to light the fact that the “advocates of tolerance were not themselves very tolerant. And, apparently, religious zealots don’t have a monopoly on dogmatism, incivility, fanaticism, and paranoia” (2007, p. viii). Flew experienced the ugly reality that creationists endure on a regular basis: those who believe in a Creator are persecuted for standing for the truth.
In spite of Flew’s bravery, his position failed to follow all the evidence to its logical conclusion. Flew, unfortunately, held a deistic belief in a divine Creator “who takes no interest in human affairs” (“Anthony Flew…,” 2010). He did not follow his quest for truth to the end of the path that would have led to the acceptance of Christianity (see Butt and Lyons, 2006).
On April 8, 2010, Antony Flew died at the age of 87 after fighting a long illness (“Antony Flew…,” 2010). He will be remembered for the writing he did in favor of atheism, and his courageous stand late in his life against that false philosophy. His life should remind us all that standing for the truth, in the face of fierce opposition, is the admirable course to take. His life should also encourage us not to stop at a mere belief in a Creator, but to invest our lives completely in the pursuit of identifying that Creator’s will for our lives (see Lyons and Butt, n.d.).
[NOTE: For more information, see the 1976 Warren-Flew Debate]
“Anthony Flew, Once a Prominent Atheist, Dies at 87” (2010), April 14, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100414/ap_on_re_eu/eu_britain_obit_flew.
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God: Exploring the Historicity, Deity, and Personality of Christ (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Flew, Antony and Roy Varghese (2007), There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York: Harper Collins).
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2010), Receiving the Gift of Salvation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Receiving%20the%20Gift%20of%20Salvation.pdf.
Miller, Dave (2004), “Atheist Finally ‘Sobers Up,’” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2662.