Book: Intelligent Design Argument Turns Leading Atheist to God
“There is a God,” announces a former leading atheist on the cover of his new book. Antony Flew changed his mind a few years ago partly because of the design argument: the fine-tuning of the universe, according to the blurb on Amazon.com. New arguments by philosophical theists like Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne also played a large part. The Amazon description sums up the import of this book: “In one of the biggest religion news stories of the new millennium, the Associated Press announced that Professor Antony Flew, the world’s leading atheist, now believes in God” (see 12/09/2004).
In an exclusive interview with Benjamin Wiker on To the Source, Antony Flew made it clear that intelligent design was a decisive factor in his change of heart:
Anthony Flew: There were two factors in particular that were decisive. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe. The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint despite numerous efforts to do so. With every passing year, the more that was discovered about the richness and inherent intelligence of life, the less it seemed likely that a chemical soup could magically generate the genetic code. The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical. The best confirmation of this radical gulf is Richard Dawkins’ comical effort to argue in The God Delusion that the origin of life can be attributed to a “lucky chance.” If that’s the best argument you have, then the game is over. No, I did not hear a Voice. It was the evidence itself that led me to this conclusion.
Flew has only come as far as to believe God is a Person, but is not a Christian. The book, however, which he calls his “last will and testament,” includes a Christian extra: “The book concludes with an appendix by New Testament scholar and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright, arguing for the coherence of Christian belief in the resurrection. Flew praises Wright, though he maintains some distance still from orthodox Christianity.”
It’s good N.T. Wright has added a Christian apologetic to this book. He made a good impression with his inputs to the new film The Case for Christ (09/16/2007). Rejection of atheism is only a halfway house; we hope Flew considers the same evidence that convinced Lee Strobel. Having a sincere friend like Gary Habermas is probably helping.
The significance of this book is not that everything Flew says will be agreeable to Christians, but that it illustrates the power of the evidence for design. Antony Flew, an influential atheist for over 50 years, retained enough intellectual integrity to follow the evidence where it leads. This is especially courageous after publishing the opposite view for so long. It is extremely rare for someone to retract an opinion after they have published it – not just an error, but a deeply held belief. The argument for design convinced Dean Kenyon to do so, and now Antony Flew.
We hope fair-minded atheist readers will take this opportunity to consider the evidence these two men found powerful enough to make them swallow their pride and switch sides. How about starting with Lee Strobel’s film The Case for a Creator, followed by The Case for Christ. Drop by these pages regularly, too.