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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sorry, says atheist-in-chief, I do believe in God after all

Today's Sunday Times newspaper has the following story:

Sorry, says atheist-in-chief, I do believe in God after all
A LOST sheep has returned to the fold. One of the most renowned atheists of the past half century has changed his mind and decided that there is a God after all.

Antony Flew, 81, emeritus professor of philosophy at Reading University, whose arguments for atheism have influenced scholars around the world, has been converted to the view that some sort of deity created the universe.

Flew, the son of a Methodist minister, is keen to repent. "As people have certainly been influenced by me, I want to try and correct the enormous damage I may have done," he said yesterday.

Instead, he believes that new scientific discoveries have revealed the existence of an organising intelligence. Investigation of DNA, he said, "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved".

Darwin’s theory of evolution does not explain the origin and development of life to Flew’s satisfaction. "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," he said.

Allowing for journalistic beat-up what's most interesting is this statement from Flew:

"As people have certainly been influenced by me, I want to try and correct the enormous damage I may have done."

I would also suggest that some of the other interesting parts of Flew's recent interview with Gary Habermas deal with issues that may be overlooked in the furore - particularly social and moral issues:

Flew points out (correctly) that the rise of the British labour, socialist and communist movements owe a great debt to the moral force and strength of Methodism and other dissenting evangelical religious movements among the working classes in the nineteenth century. He further identifies the increase in family breakdown and crime in contemporary Britain to the loss of the moral and ethical fibre that these movements engendered in society.

Secondly, and surprisingly for a life-long atheist, he regrets the loss of "the benefit of objective religious education" in secular state schools resulting in a subsequent vacuum in moral education in society. As well he takes aim at the the US Supreme Court for "utterly misinterpretating" the constitutional clause preventing the establishment of religion to mean the banning of all references to religion.

Thirdly while rejecting revealed religion, Flew acknowledges a "great respect" for Christianity and an antipathy for Islam stating "Jesus is an enormously attractive charismatic figure, which the Prophet of Islam most emphatically is not."

1:40:00 pm