I’m technically on vacation but wanted to flag this profile of British philosopher Antony Flew in today’s NYT. A Christian friend mentioned him to me last year as evidence of the turning tide in the debate between believers and nonbelievers: a leading intellectual light among atheists for decades, he declared himself a deist in his old age. The occasion for the profile is his new book, “There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.” Times contributor Mark Oppenheimer wanted to find out how someone so entrenched on one side of the divide came to migrate intellectually to the other (a phenomenon that goes both ways, incidentally). He settles on two contributing factors, the first being that Flew, by temperament, was never the sort of bomb-throwing polemicist in the Hitchens mold that so many atheists seem to be. Without that element of intellectual bloodsport compelling him towards loyalty to his own side, he was able to follow the evidence wherever it took him. Which is to say, he wasn’t much “entrenched.”
I’ll leave you to read the piece to find out what the other contributing factor was. Suffice it to say, it calls into question whether, and to what extent, Flew was able to follow the evidence at all, culminating in a gripping scene in his living room between Oppenheimer and the man himself plus a few choice quotes from Flew’s editor which suggest he may be being used — with his publisher’s knowledge — as a sort of ventriloquist’s dummy. The piece begins with Flew’s famous paper on the impossibility of proving God’s existence and ends, ironically, with the impossibility of even proving what Antony Flew thinks about God now. Read it all.
Update: I’m not having any trouble loading the page but others are. Try this if the links above don’t work.