Arthur Asuncion


Articles -- World-Renowned Atheist Finds God Through Science (Feb 2005)

Last fall, 81-year-old British philosopher Antony Flew stunned the academic world by publicly renouncing atheism. Considered as "one of the most renowned atheists of the 20th century" (Richard Carrier, Secular Web), Flew was a tireless proponent for atheism for many decades. In his famous work, "The Presumption of Atheism," Flew developed the idea that atheism is a default position and that the burden of proof should lie on theists. Hence, Flew's recent conversion from atheism to theism is a monumental development that cannot be ignored.

What caused Flew to consider the possibility of God's existence? Intelligent Design.

The scientific theory of Intelligent Design claims that complexities within biological structures are best explained as artifacts of intelligence, rather than artifacts of undirected stochastic natural processes. Impressed by the intricacy of the DNA molecule, Flew began to be skeptical of Darwinism's purported ability to account for all of the complexity in life. Although Flew still seems to hold to some tenets of Darwinian evolution, he credits the theory of Intelligent Design as a major factor towards his conversion.

Dr. Gary Habermas, a Christian who had debated with Flew on several occasions, recently interviewed Flew after his conversion. Here are some provocative excerpts from the interview (which will be published in the Winter 2005 edition of “Philosophia Christi”):

HABERMAS: “You mention a number of trends in theistic argumentation that you find convincing, like big bang cosmology, fine tuning and Intelligent Design arguments. Which arguments for God's existence did you find most persuasive?”

FLEW: “I think that the most impressive arguments for God's existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries. I've never been much impressed by the kalam cosmological argument, and I don't think it has gotten any stronger recently. However, I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.”

HABERMAS: “So of the major theistic arguments, such as the cosmological, teleological, moral, and ontological, the only really impressive ones that you take to be decisive are the scientific forms of teleology?”

FLEW: “Absolutely. It seems to me that Richard Dawkins constantly overlooks the fact that Darwin himself, in the fourteenth chapter of The Origin of Species, pointed out that his whole argument began with a being which already possessed reproductive powers. This is the creature the evolution of which a truly comprehensive theory of evolution must give some account. Darwin himself was well aware that he had not produced such an account. It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”

Skeptics have been quick to dismiss Flew's conversion as inconsequential, and some have claimed that Flew has retracted some of his comments against Darwinism. Regardless of these assertions, the incontrovertible fact is that a world-famous philosopher has renounced atheism on the basis of scientific evidence for Intelligent Design.

Flew can currently be classified as a philosophical theist or a deist. While Flew does not yet believe in a theistic revelatory system or an afterlife, he has indicated openness to such ideas. In a letter to the Philosophy Now magazine, Flew expressed his main philosophical commitment:

“My own commitment then as a philosopher who was also a religious unbeliever was and remains that of Plato's Socrates: ‘We must follow the argument wherever it leads.'”

For this lifelong atheist, the scientific argument eventually led him back to God. All he needed was an open mind.