2008 New Years’ Resolution: I must read more…

I’m joking, although I’m already stocking up on 2008’s reading list. And, since in the last week I finished off the 2 novels I received for Christmas, besides doing a critical review of one of Andrew Murray’s books and reading some theology for my own enjoyment, I really doubt I could squeeze any more reading into my schedule. But, I can always try…

One of the books I’ve just added to my Amazon wish list is Anthony Flew’s book There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Anthony Flew first presented his Theology and Falsification in 1950 at the Oxford University Socratic Club, which was then chaired by CS Lewis. He has published a number of philosophical works over his lifetime, and over the last 20 years slowly reasoned his way out of atheism to a belief in a creating intelligence (though not necessarily to a personal deity). Flew was apparently somewhat distinguished from other 20th Century atheist philosophers, for whom atheism was a by-product of their various philosophical systems. Flew, on the other hand, argued for atheism simply on the basis of logical assumptions. It is this kind of thinking which led him to finally accept the existence of God.

And it seems to be driving other atheists a bit nuts. From what I’ve read, the general approach being taken against Flew’s latest book has two prongs: one, Flew is 84 and can’t think as clearly as he used to. Second, his co-author, Roy Abraham Varghese, actually wrote the book and “spun” Flew’s comments to say things Flew didn’t mean to say (in spite of Flew’s insistence that he wrote the book and it says what he wanted it to say).

First, the senility argument is immaterial. Either the book makes sense, or it doesn’t. Now, concerning whether Varghese wrote the book or not, we have Flew’s own statements taking responsibility for the book and ideas:

“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 percent 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. This is my book and it represents my thinking.”

It seems rather far-fetched for anyone to believe that someone who has argued for atheism for years and can still communicate would allow a book to be published under his name stating that he is no longer an atheist. His comments, combined with his various interviews over the last few years, should lay that issue to rest. But, people will continue to grasp at whatever straws are available to avoid having to comes to terms with their individual arguments from authority.

For one fairly in-depth review of the book, look here.

So, There Is A God will probably be in my next book order. In the meantime, to continue in my pursuit of this year’s resolution, I will finish up Anthony Bloom’s God and Man (on which I will blog once or twice), and wait for my Amazon order to arrive with Robert Webber’s The Divine Embrace and 2 of the “Armchair Theologian” series, Augustine for Armchair Theologians and The Reformation …

Happy New Year!

8 thoughts on “2008 New Years’ Resolution: I must read more…”

  1. Somehow, it seems that people who “cross over” between religion and atheism get more credibility and press than is due them.

    Perhaps. Although, many more “cross over” than we ever hear about; ball players, actors and musicians who do certainly get more press than deserved. However, when someone knowledgeable in a field (as Flew is in philosophy) has a major change in position, it bears some attention. Marjoe’s story is sad, but he was never an authority on theology or philosophy; he was merely a conman. If a major Christian theologian were to become an atheist (or a deist), that would be a different story, and his story would bear some analysis. The value would not be in the individual decision, but in the reasoning. Flew, though not as well-known in pop circles as some other philosophers, certainly was established enough to be known (although I doubt “most notorious” is accurate).

    Antony Flew has never eaten cookies and candy in his life. He eats biscuits and sweets.

    I have heard some criticism of some of the Publisher’s decisions, including the decision to “Americanize” Flew’s language. That doesn’t negate his arguments, and if he says it represents his thoughts, then I would tend to believe him. Another criticism of the Publisher was in the “with” credit to Varghese as opposed to “and” – as well whether he was the correct person to work with Flew. But, the book is what it is, and I still look forward to reading it.

  2. In the book ‘Antony Flew’ talks about ‘favorite’ (sic) ‘cookies’ and ‘candy’ and gives baseball anecdotes.

    Antony Flew has never eaten cookies and candy in his life. He eats biscuits and sweets.

    And an 84 year old Englishman giving baseball anecdotes.

    Any English person just has to glance at this and know that an 84 year old Englishman did not write those chapters.

    Perhaps Flew will be bringing out a gangsta-rap record next?

  3. I was very puzzled by the science in this book.

    On page 116 Antony Flew writes ‘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 genetic codes to work and planets to hold together when rotating.’.

    I assume that ‘invariable effect’ means ‘invariant effect.’

    What is meant by ‘whether they act at right angles to a system’s direction of travel.’?

    Compared to what? The sentence make no grammatical sense.

    And what are the other forces like electromagnetism that special relativity applies to?

    Clearly not gravity, as special relativity means ignoring gravity.

    And not the strong and weak nuclear forces which are governed by quantum mechanics, unless Flew has reconciled relativity and quantum mechanics.

    Unless relativity really does mean that the srong and weak nuclear forces have invariable effects whether they act at right angles to a system’s direction of travel….

    And do electromagnetic forces really have invariant effects whether they act at right angles to an object moving in a field of force, or act parallel to an object moving in a field of force?

    That would certainly revolutionise the whole world of electric motors.

    And why do planets hold together while rotating because ‘special relativity’ means that electromagnetic forces have invariant effects whether they are at 90 degrees to the direction of motion?

    Planets hold together because of gravity, which is not covered by special relativity.

    The science in the book stinks.

  4. Somehow, it seems that people who “cross over” between religion and atheism get more credibility and press than is due them. I honestly would never have heard of “the most notorious atheist” had not his change of viewpoint been so loudly trumpeted. I wouldn’t have been aware of him if not for the blogosphere war regarding his views.

    Do you give more credibility to Bart Ehrman, Hector Avalos, John W. Loftus, Marjoe Gortner or even me for that matter because we are former Christians who became atheists through reason than you do those who were never religious or are you too willing to dismiss their criticisms of the Bible as quote-mining?

    Antony Flew became a deist. But he was never a darling of the atheists, and so I don’t get the propensity to crow.

    The thrill and the angst over someone’s conversion seems to me too much like the kind of advertising in which a long-time Ford owner drives a Chevy and decides to be a loyal “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet” kind of guy.

  5. Alden,

    I am reading Webber’s The Younger Evangelicals right now and will be putting up a series about it. I’d love to have you in on the conversation it generates.

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