Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $4.41 shipping
+ Free Shipping
There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind Paperback – November 4, 2008
|New from||Used from|
Preloaded Digital Audio Player, Unabridged
Explore your book, then jump right back to where you left off with Page Flip.
View high quality images that let you zoom in to take a closer look.
Enjoy features only possible in digital – start reading right away, carry your library with you, adjust the font, create shareable notes and highlights, and more.
Discover additional details about the events, people, and places in your book, with Wikipedia integration.
Ask Alexa to read your book with Audible integration or text-to-speech.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
“Antony Flew’s book will incense atheists who suppose (erroneously) that science proves there is no God.” (Ian H. Hutchinson, Professor and Head of the Dept. of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT)
“Towering and courageous... Flew’s colleagues in the church of fundamentalist atheism will be scandalized.” (Francis S. Collins, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of God)
“A very clear and readable book tracing his path back to theism, revealing his total openness to new rational arguments.” (Richard Swinburne, author of The Existence of God)
“This is a remarkable book in many ways.” (Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions)
“This is a fascinating and very readable account …” (Professor John Hick, Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham)
“A stellar philosophical mind ponders the latest scientific results. The conclusion: a God stands behind the rationality of nature.” (Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box and The Edge of Evolution)
“Antony Flew not only has the philosophical virtues; he has the virtues of the philosopher. Civil in argument, relentlessly reasonable….” (Ralph McInerny, Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame)
“A fascinating record …it will come as a most uncomfortable jolt to those who were once his fellow atheists.” (Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University)
“Flew’s exposition will be a source for reflective inquiry for many, many years...” (Daniel N. Robinson, Philosophy Department, Oxford University)
About the Author
Philosopher and former atheist Antony Flew set the agenda for modern atheism with his 1950 essay "Theology and Falsification," which became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last half century. Flew has published over thirty books, including God and Philosophy, The Presumption of Atheism, and How to Think Straight. He spent twenty years as professor of philosophy at the University of Keele and has also held positions at Oxford, the University of Aberdeen, and the University of Reading. He now lives in Reading, England.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
There is a God doesn’t really get going until page 50 or so. Until then, the book reads like an autobiographical account of Mr. Flew’s upbringing with analysis of the factors that shaped his prior worldview. The author tells us what motivates him on page 81: “the pursuit of valid arguments with true conclusions.” The reason why Flew ascended to belief begins on page 95. The reader is then led on a pilgrimage of reason that sequentially examines different arguments (e.g. cosmological, teleological, fine-tuning, the flaws of Darwinism) for God’s existence that also poke holes in alternative, atheistic arguments.
Indeed, Flew does a splendid job of rebutting Hume’s formulation of causality as he relates it to moral, non-physical phenomenon (starting on pg. 60). Appendix A, written by Roy Varghese, is a delightful and quick synopsis of how the “new atheists” fail to address some of the most basic tenets of human existence. Appendix B is a dialogue with N. T. Wright and details a factual synopsis for the historicity of the New Testament and the sufficiency of explanation of the resurrection for the empty tomb and the eyewitness testimony detailed in the Gospels.
Overall, less the Appendices, I felt underwhelmed by this book and I think most readers will do just fine without it (unless, of course, you have burning interest in the life and scholarly work of Anthony Flew).
While studying philosophy at Oxford (1946-1950), Antony learned the critical importance of correct verbal usage, which provides our only access to understanding concepts. He remembered admiring his father and other biblical scholars study some peculiar Old Testament concept by collecting and examining all available usages of the relevant Hebrew word.
In May 2004, after 66 years of atheism, Flew announced at a debate that he accepted the existence of a God. Alvin Plantinga later said, “It speaks very well of Professor Flew's honesty. After all these years of opposing the idea of a Creator, he reverses his position on the basis of evidence.” Indeed, Flew credits this change to a lifelong commitment he always had to “follow the argument no matter where it leads.”
Flew says that his discovery of the Divine was a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith. He made his conclusions on a purely natural level, without any connection to organized religions. From a philosophical standpoint, he was most influenced by David Conway's “The Recovery of Wisdom: From Here to Antiquity in Quest of Sophia” in which he said,
“In sum, to the Being whom he considered to be the explanation of the world, Aristotle ascribed the following attributes: immutability, immateriality, omnipotence, omniscience, oneness of indivisibility, perfect goodness and necessary existence. There is an impressive correspondence between this set of attributes and those traditionally ascribed to God within the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is one that fully justifies us in viewing Aristotle as having had the same Divine Being in mind as the cause of the world that is the object of worship as the cause of the world that is the object of worship of these two religions.”
Flew says that, as Conway sees it, the God of the monotheistic religions has the same attributes as the God of Aristotle, and could be discovered by “unaided human reason.” Flew had not acknowledged the Christian God, the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Neither did he acknowledge the revelation from the Bible, that God can only be known through His revealing Himself to us, and not through our human reasoning.
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
“My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would NOT REST ON THE WISDOM OF MEN, but on the power of God...We speak the wisdom not of this age nor of the rulers of this age...We speak God's wisdom in a mystery...For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God...The thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 1:4-11).
Flew did say, however, that regarding the Christian claim that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, no other religion enjoys anything like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul. “If you're wanting omniscience to set up a religion, it seems to me this is the one to beat!”
Flew says that he sought to answer 3 questions:
1) How did the laws of nature come about?
2) How did life originate from non-life?
3) How did the universe come into existence?
WHAT ARE LAWS OF NATURE?
A law of nature is anything that occurs with regularity and symmetry in nature. These regularities are mathematically precise, universal, and “tied together.”
Boyle's Law says that given constant temperature, the product of the volume and pressure of a fixed quantity of an ideal gas is constant.
The Law of the Conservation of Energy says that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant.
Many prominent scientists have regarded the laws of nature as thoughts of the Mind of God.
THE MIND OF GOD
In “A Brief History of Time,” Stephen Hawking said,
“If we discover a complete theory...of why it is that we and the universe exist, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason. For then we should know the mind of God.”
Einstein did not believe in a personal God. However, in “The Quotable Einstein,” he did say,
“My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the comprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
In “The Autobiography of Charles Darwin,” Darwin said,
“[Reason tells me of the] extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking backwards and far into the future, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look for a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man and I deserve to be called a Theist.”
In his book, “The Divine Lawmaker: Lectures on Induction, Laws of Nature and the Existence of God,” John Foster says that regularities in nature are best explained by a divine Mind.
Paul Davies, a physicist and cosmologist, says, “Science is based on the assumption that the universe is thoroughly rational and logical at all levels. Atheists claim that the laws of nature exist reasonlessly and that the universe is ultimately absurd. As a scientist, I find this hard to accept. There must be an unchanging rational ground in which the logical, orderly nature of the universe is rooted.”
THE FINE-TUNING ARGUMENT (ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE)
The laws of nature seem to have been crafted so as to move the universe toward the emergence and sustenance of life. This is the anthropic principle, popularized by such thinkers as Martin Rees, John Barrow, and John Leslie.
If the value of even one of the fundamental constants – the speed of light or the mass of an electron, for example – had been to the slightest degree different, then no planet capable of permitting the evolution of human life could have been formed.
John Leslie argues that fine tuning is best explained by divine design. Examples include:
1. The principle of special relativity ensures that forces such as electromagnetism have an invariable effect regardless of whether they act at right angles to a system's direction of travel. This enables the genetic codes to work and planets to hold together when rotating.
2. Quantum laws prevent electrons from spiraling into atomic nuclei.
3. Electromagnetism has one-force strength, which enables multiple key processes to take place.
It allows stars to burn steadily for billions of years.
It enable carbon synthesis in stars.
It ensures that leptons do not replace quarks, which would have made atoms impossible.
It is responsible for protons not decaying too fast or repelling each other too strongly, which would have made chemistry impossible. How is it possible for the same one-force strength to satisfy so many different requirements, when it seems that different strengths would be required for each one of these processes?
Other scientists try to explain fine tuning with the theory of multiple parallel universes, or multiverses. But if we are trying to understand why the universe is bio-friendly, we are not helped by being told that all possible universes exist! Richard Swinburne says, “It is crazy to postulate a trillion universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity, God, will do the job.
There is currently no evidence in support of a multiverse.
LIFE vs. NON-LIFE
(1) teleological (having built-in purposes),
(2) self-reproductive, and
(3) has “coded chemistry.”
The genetic message in DNA is duplicated in replication and then copied from DNA to RNA in transcription. Following this there is translation whereby the message from RNA is conveyed to the amino acids, and finally amino acids are assembled into proteins. The cell's two different structures of information management and chemical activity are coordinated by the universal genetic code.
Paul Davies says we need to explain the origin of this information, and the way in which the information processing machinery came to exist. A gene is nothing but a set of coded instructions with a precise recipe for manufacturing proteins. These genetic instructions are not the kind of information you find in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Rather, they constitute semantic information that have specific meaning. These instructions can only be effective in a molecular environment capable of interpreting the meaning of genetic code. The question is, “How did meaningful semantic information emerge spontaneously from a collection of mindless molecules subject to blind and purposeless forces?”
PROTOBIOLOGISTS DON'T KNOW HOW LIFE BEGAN
Andy Knoll, author of “Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Life,” says,
“We don't know how life started on this planet. We don't know exactly when it started, and we don't know under what circumstances.”
Antonio Lazcano, president of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, reports,
“Life could not have evolved without a genetic mechanism, one able to store, replicate, and transmit to its progeny information that can change with time. Precisely how the first genetic machinery evolved is an unresolved issue. The exact pathway for life's origin may never be known.”
John Maddox, the editor emeritus of “Nature,” writes,
“The overriding question is when and then how sexual reproduction itself evolved. We do not know.”
There is no law of nature that instructs matter to produce end-directed, self-replicating entities.
George Wald, the Nobel Prize-winning physiologist, said,
So how do we account for the origin of life? “We choose to believe the impossible. That live arose spontaneously by chance.” Later in life, he concluded, “It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life.”
THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
Richard Swinburne summarizes the cosmological argument:
“It is very unlikely that a universe would exist uncaused, but rather more likely that God would exist uncaused.”
AN INCORPOREAL OMNIPRESENT SPIRIT
In his book, “God and Philosophy,” atheist Flew argued that a “person without a body” seemed nonsensical. Later, Thomas Tracy argued in his books “God, Action and Embodiment” and “The God Who Acts” how it is possible to be a person without a body. Tracy considers persons, human and divine, to be agents that can act intentionally. If this is true, then a body is not necessary for being an agent. God can be identified through the way He acts. He is a radically self-creative agent who is the omnipotent creator of all things. God also loves in concrete ways. Since His mode of life and powers of action are fundamentally different than ours, then so will be His love and patience and wisdom.
He exists outside time and space, since He is not corporeal, while at the same time acting intentionally within time and space.
Flew concludes that his pilgrimage of reason, and following the argument to where it takes him, has led him to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being.
Top international reviews
He does a nice take-down of some of the 'scientific' proponents of atheism who argue that science leads them to atheism; paying particular attention to the atheist zealot Richard Dawkins. The book is worth reading for that alone.
Well worth the purchase and food for thought on how a philosopher converts.