Famous “atheist” declares that God exists.

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“As people have certainly been influenced by me, I want to try and correct the enormous damage I may have done.” (Anthony Flew)

The newspapers these days are echoing with these regret-filled words by Antony Flew, in his time a well-known atheist philosopher.  The 81-year-old British professor of philosophy Flew chose to become an atheist at the age of 15, and first made a name for himself in the academic field with a paper published in 1950.  In the 54 years that followed, he defended atheism as a teacher at the universities of Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele and Reading, at many American and Canadian universities he visited, in debates, books, lecture halls and articles.  In recent days, however, Flew has announced that he has abandoned this error and accepts that the universe was created.

The decisive factor in this radical change of view is the clear and definitive evidence revealed by science on the subject of creation.  Flew realized, in the face of the information-based complexity of life, that the true origin of life is intelligent design and that the atheism he had espoused for 66 years was a discredited philosophy.

Flew announced the scientific reasons underlying this change in belief in these terms:

“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.”[1]

“It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.”[2]

“I have been persuaded that it is simply out of the question that the first living matter evolved out of dead matter and then developed into an extraordinarily complicated creature.”[3]

The DNA research which Flew cites as a fundamental reason for his change of opinion has indeed revealed striking facts about creation.  The helix shape of the DNA molecule, its possession of the genetic code, the nucleotide strings that refute blind chance, the storage of encyclopedic quantities of information and many other striking findings have revealed that the structure and functions of this molecule were arranged for life with a special design.  Comments by scientists concerned with DNA research bear witness to this fact.

Francis Crick, for instance, one of the scientists who revealed the helix shape of DNA admitted in the face of the findings regarding DNA that the origin of life indicated a miracle:

An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.[4]

Based on his calculations, Led Adleman of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles has stated that one gram of DNA can store as much information as a trillion compact discs.[5]  Gene Myers, a scientist employed on the Human Genome Project, has said the following in the face of the miraculous arrangements he witnessed:

“What really astounds me is the architecture of life… The system is extremely complex.  It’s like it was designed… There’s a huge intelligence there.”[6]

The most striking fact about DNA is that the existence of the coded genetic information can definitely not be explained in terms of matter and energy or natural laws.  Dr. Werner Gitt, a professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology, has said this on the subject:

A code system is always the result of a mental process… It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code.  All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required… There is no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this.[7]

Creationist scientists and philosophers played a major role in Flew’s acceptance of intelligent design, backed up by all these findings.  In recent times Flew participated in debates with scientists and philosophers who were proponents of creation, and exchanged ideas with them.  The final turning point in that process was a discussion organized by the Institute for Metascientific Research in Texas in May, 2003.  Professor Flew participated in the discussion together with the author, Roy Abraham Varghese, a physicist, and the molecular biologist, Gerald Schroeder.  Flew was impressed by the weight of the scientific evidence in favor of creation and by the convincing nature of his opponents’ arguments and abandoned atheism as an idea in the period following that discussion.  In a letter he wrote for the August-September, 2003, edition of the British magazine Philosophy Now, he recommended Schroeder’s book “The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth” and Varghese’s book “The Wonderful World.”[8]  During an interview with the professor of philosophy and theology Gary R. Habermas, who also played a major role in his change of mind,[9]  and also on the video “Has Science Discovered God?”  he openly stated that he believed in intelligent design.

The “Intelligence Pervading the Universe” and the Collapse of Atheism

In the face of all the scientific developments outlined above, the acceptance of intelligent design by Anthony Flew, famous for defending atheism for many years, reflects a final scene in the process of collapse which atheism is being subjected to Modern science has revealed the existence of an “intelligence pervading the universe,” thus leaving atheism out of the equation.

In his book “The Hidden Face of God,” Gerald Schroeder, one of the creationist scientists who influenced Flew, writes:

A single consciousness, a universal wisdom, pervades the universe.  The discoveries of science, those that search the quantum nature of subatomic matter, have moved us to the brink of a startling realization: all existence is the expression of this wisdom.  In the laboratories we experience it as information that first physically articulated as energy and then condensed into the form of matter.  Every particle, every being, from atom to human, appears to represent a level of information, of wisdom.[10]

Scientific research into both the functioning of the cell and the subatomic particles of matter has revealed this fact in an indisputable manner: Life and the universe were brought into being from nothing by the will of an entity possessed of a superior mind and wisdom.  There is no doubt that the possessor of that knowledge and mind that designed the universe at all levels is Almighty God.  God reveals these truths in many verses of the Quran.



Footnotes:

[1] Richard N. Ostling, “Lifelong atheist changes mind about divine creator,” The Washington Times 10 December 2004; (http://washingtontimes.com/national/20041209-113212-2782r.htm.)

[2] Antony Flew, “Letter from Antony Flew on Darwinism and Theology,” Philosophy Now; (http://www.philosophynow.org/issue47/47flew.htm.)

[3] Stuart Wavell and Will Iredale, “Sorry, says atheist-in-chief, I do believe in God after all,” The Sunday Times, 12 December 2004; (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1400368,00.html)

[4] Francis Crick, Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981, p. 88

[5] John Whitfield, “Physicists plunder life’s tool chest”, 24 April 2003; (http://www.nature.com/nsu/030421/030421-6.html)

[6] San Francisco Chronicle, 19 February, 2001

[7] Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information, CLV, Bielenfeld, Germany, pp. 64-7, 79

[8] Antony Flew, “Letter from Antony Flew on Darwinism and Theology,” Philosophy Now; (http://www.philosophynow.org/issue47/47flew.htm.)

[9] “Atheist Becomes Theist: Exclusive Interview with Former Atheist Antony Flew;” (http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/index.cfm.)

[10] Gerald Schroeder, The Hidden Face of God, Touchstone, New York, 2001, p. xi.

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4 Responses to “Famous “atheist” declares that God exists.”


  1. 1 Nathan Nielsen December 6, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Very Interesting… How do you think it will effect the broader atheist community?

  2. 2 faatih December 6, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Nathan,

    Just had a quick read of your blog. Interesting and thought-provoking material. Well here is my opinion, and since this is quite important for me it will be a rather lengthy response. Just to warn you advance sometimes I can come across as quite longwinded due to a desire about covering something comprehensively and thoroughly.

    1. “Intellectual honesty & objectivity” versus “value system, organized religion”.

    One of the reasons why many scientists have tended to be quite secular if not outright atheists was that historically the Church restricted scientific inquiry and research. Another reason – which is the subject of my next post – is that the scientific method is all about the observable, the tangible i.e. the material, something that God and other supernatural phenomena do not fall under. I will elaborate on this in my next post.

    I wish to separate the issue of intellectual honesty and objectivity from that of following a religion. Many scientists including Stephen Hawkings and Roger Penrose affirm the existence of a creator on an intellectual basis and concluded by years of study. However there is probably no difference between them and many atheist scientists in the lifestyle they lead. For them it is a case of “Yes, God exists…next…what’s for lunch?” They do not feel that belief in a creator means that they have to change their value-system, their behaviour or lifestyle.

    I respect and admire them for their intellectual objectivity and this is what we – regardless of what religious beliefs we hold – should want them, nothing more than a sincere search for the truth.

    Affirmation in the existence of God should be about truth and not about following a religion or altering your lifestyle. Many secular or athiest scientists or laymen will be wary of those who seek to promote belief in God with an accompanying message of following a certain set of values. If that was the case then certain scientists on a very subconscious level would just look for ways to deny the existence of God in reaction to this.

    As for the atheist community, I cannot say as I am not too familiar with them. What I can say – and what any of us can say, since we live amongst society – is that most people in the west do not focus too much on the existence of God, they also have a vague background belief that scientists know what they are speaking about and that evolution is true (a perception falsely created by the mainstream media).

    Just to add Anthony Flew has criticized Richard Dawkin’s heavily such as saying the way Dakwin’s has presented the religion versus science debate has basically been to create a mismatch, to selectively chose the worst aspects of religion against the best aspects of science. If you research online, you can read more about Flew’s criticisms of Dawkins.

    However in a nutshell…no, I don’t know how this will effect the broader atheist community.

  3. 3 faatih December 6, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Below is an article written by Professor Flew on Richard Dawkins and the God Delusion:

    http://www.bethinking.org/science-christianity/intermediate/flew-speaks-out-professor-antony-flew-reviews-the-god-delusion.htm

    “On 1st November 2007, Professor Antony Flew’s new book There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed his Mind was published by HarperOne. Professor Flew has been called ‘the world’s most influential philosophical atheist’, as well as ‘one of the most renowned atheists of the 20th Century’ (see Peter S. Williams’ bethinking.org article “A change of mind for Antony Flew”). In his book, Professor Flew recounts how he has come to believe in a Creator God as a result of the scientific evidence and philosophical argument.

    Not surprisingly, his book caused quite a stir – as can be seen from the miscellaneous customer reviews on Amazon.co.uk. Some of those comments (and those elsewhere) implied that Flew was used by his co-author, Roy Varghese, and did not in fact know what was in the book. This is a serious charge to which Professor Flew responded and which he reiterated in a recent letter (dated 4th June 2008) to a friend of UCCF who has shown it to us. Professor Flew writes:

    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 per cent 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. That is my book and it represents my thinking.”

    Professor Flew has recently written his forthright views on Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. His article, reproduced below, shows Professor Flew’s key reasons for his belief in a Divine Intelligence. He also makes it clear in There is a God (page 213) that it is possible for an omnipotent being to choose to reveal himself to human beings, or to act in the world in other ways. Professor Flew’s article is offered here as testimony to the developing thinking of someone who is prepared to consider the evidence and follow its implications wherever it leads.

    Professor Antony Flew writes:

    The God Delusion by the atheist writer Richard Dawkins, is remarkable in the first place for having achieved some sort of record by selling over a million copies. But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot. (Helpfully, my copy of The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view’).

    The fault of Dawkins as an academic (which he still was during the period in which he composed this book although he has since announced his intention to retire) was his scandalous and apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine which he appears to think he has refuted in its strongest form. Thus we find in his index five references to Einstein. They are to the mask of Einstein and Einstein on morality; on a personal God; on the purpose of life (the human situation and on how man is here for the sake of other men and above all for those on whose well-being our own happiness depends); and finally on Einstein’s religious views. But (I find it hard to write with restraint about this obscurantist refusal on the part of Dawkins) he makes no mention of Einstein’s most relevant report: namely, that the integrated complexity of the world of physics has led him to believe that there must be a Divine Intelligence behind it. (I myself think it obvious that if this argument is applicable to the world of physics then it must be hugely more powerful if it is applied to the immeasurably more complicated world of biology.)

    Of course many physicists with the highest of reputations do not agree with Einstein in this matter. But an academic attacking some ideological position which s/he believes to be mistaken must of course attack that position in its strongest form. This Dawkins does not do in the case of Einstein and his failure is the crucial index of his insincerity of academic purpose and therefore warrants me in charging him with having become, what he has probably believed to be an impossibility, a secularist bigot.

    On page 82 of The God Delusion is a remarkable note. It reads ‘We might be seeing something similar today in the over-publicised tergiversation of the philosopher Antony Flew, who announced in his old age that he had been converted to belief in some sort of deity (triggering a frenzy of eager repetition all around the Internet).’

    What is important about this passage is not what Dawkins is saying about Flew but what he is showing here about Dawkins. For if he had had any interest in the truth of the matter of which he was making so much he would surely have brought himself to write me a letter of enquiry. (When I received a torrent of enquiries after an account of my conversion to Deism had been published in the quarterly of the Royal Institute of Philosophy I managed – I believe – eventually to reply to every letter.)

    This whole business makes all too clear that Dawkins is not interested in the truth as such but is primarily concerned to discredit an ideological opponent by any available means. That would itself constitute sufficient reason for suspecting that the whole enterprise of The God Delusion was not, as it at least pretended to be, an attempt to discover and spread knowledge of the existence or non-existence of God but rather an attempt – an extremely successful one – to spread the author’s own convictions in this area.

    A less important point which needs to be made in this piece is that although the index of The God Delusion notes six references to Deism it provides no definition of the word ‘deism’. This enables Dawkins in his references to Deism to suggest that Deists are a miscellany of believers in this and that. The truth, which Dawkins ought to have learned before this book went to the printers, is that Deists believe in the existence of a God but not the God of any revelation. In fact the first notable public appearance of the notion of Deism was in the American Revolution. The young man who drafted the Declaration of Independence and who later became President Jefferson was a Deist, as were several of the other founding fathers of that abidingly important institution, the United States.

    In that monster footnote to what I am inclined to describe as a monster book – The God Delusion – Dawkins reproaches me for what he calls my ignominious decision to accept, in 2006, the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth. The awarding Institution is Biola, The Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Dawkins does not say outright that his objection to my decision is that Biola is a specifically Christian institution. He obviously assumes (but refrains from actually saying) that this is incompatible with producing first class academic work in every department – not a thesis which would be acceptable in either my own university or Oxford or in Harvard.

    In my time at Oxford, in the years immediately succeeding the second world war, Gilbert Ryle (then Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy in the University of Oxford) published a hugely influential book The Concept of Mind. This book revealed by implication, but only by implication, that minds are not entities of a sort which could coherently be said to survive the death of those whose minds they were.

    Ryle felt responsible for the smooth pursuit of philosophical teaching and the publication of the findings of philosophical research in the university and knew that, at that time, there would have been uproar if he had published his own conclusion that the very idea of a second life after death was self-contradictory and incoherent. He was content for me to do this at a later time and in another place. I told him that if I were ever invited to give one of the Gifford Lecture series my subject would be The Logic of Mortality. When I was, I did and these Lectures were first published by Blackwell (Oxford) in 1987. They are still in print from Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY).

    Finally, as to the suggestion that I have been used by Biola University. If the way I was welcomed by the students and the members of faculty whom I met on my short stay in Biola amounted to being used then I can only express my regret that at the age of 85 I cannot reasonably hope for another visit to this institution.”

  4. 4 Faatih December 8, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    As stated, I have finally written a post on why some secular scientists have an inherent aversion to accepting intelligent design.

    The post is here: https://faatih.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/why-do-some-scientists-disbelieve-in-god/


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