Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Interesting review of "The God Delusion"

I found this interesting,

I wondered whether to put it on here or not since Anthony Flew comes across rather strong, and I don't want to pull down people but rather...their arguments.
My reason for placing this review is that "The God Delusion" has been upheld by some atheists and has destroyed some people's faith in God (to my understanding).

I want to bring another view on it.
(Note: I have not read the book, although I heard Dawkins dabate about it with John Lennox)

This is a review of a famous atheistic book by a famous ex-atheist philosopher who is now a deist.

(An intro by someone else in blue)

Flew Speaks Out: Professor Antony Flew reviews The God Delusion
Antony Flew
Antony Flew was a lecturer at the Universities of Oxford and Aberdeen, before posts as Professor of Philosophy at the Universities of Keele and of Reading. He has now retired. He is renowned for his 1950 essay "Theology and Falsification" and his atheistic work, before announcing in 2004 his belief in a Creator God.

On 1st November 2007, Professor Antony Flew’s new book There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed his Mind was published by HarperOne. Professor Flew has been called ‘the world's most influential philosophical atheist’, as well as ‘one of the most renowned atheists of the 20th Century’ (see Peter S. Williams’ bethinking.org article
“A change of mind for Antony Flew”). In his book, Professor Flew recounts how he has come to believe in a Creator God as a result of the scientific evidence and philosophical argument.
Not surprisingly, his book caused quite a stir – as can be seen from the miscellaneous customer reviews on
Amazon.co.uk. Some of those comments (and those elsewhere) implied that Flew was used by his co-author, Roy Varghese, and did not in fact know what was in the book. This is a serious charge to which Professor Flew responded and which he reiterated in a recent letter (dated 4th June 2008) to a friend of UCCF who has shown it to us. Professor Flew writes:
I have rebutted these criticisms in the following statement: “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 per cent 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. That is my book and it represents my thinking.”
Professor Flew has recently written his forthright views on Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. His article, reproduced below, shows Professor Flew’s key reasons for his belief in a Divine Intelligence. He also makes it clear in There is a God (page 213) that it is possible for an omnipotent being to choose to reveal himself to human beings, or to act in the world in other ways. Professor Flew’s article is offered here as testimony to the developing thinking of someone who is prepared to consider the evidence and follow its implications wherever it leads.

Professor Antony Flew writes:

The God Delusion by the atheist writer Richard Dawkins, is remarkable in the first place for having achieved some sort of record by selling over a million copies. But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot. (Helpfully, my copy of The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view’).
The fault of Dawkins as an academic (which he still was during the period in which he composed this book although he has since announced his intention to retire) was his scandalous and apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine which he appears to think he has refuted in its strongest form. Thus we find in his index five references to Einstein. They are to the mask of Einstein and Einstein on morality; on a personal God; on the purpose of life (the human situation and on how man is here for the sake of other men and above all for those on whose well-being our own happiness depends); and finally on Einstein’s religious views. But (I find it hard to write with restraint about this obscurantist refusal on the part of Dawkins) he makes no mention of Einstein’s most relevant report: namely, that the integrated complexity of the world of physics has led him to believe that there must be a Divine Intelligence behind it. (I myself think it obvious that if this argument is applicable to the world of physics then it must be hugely more powerful if it is applied to the immeasurably more complicated world of biology.)
Of course many physicists with the highest of reputations do not agree with Einstein in this matter. But an academic attacking some ideological position which s/he believes to be mistaken must of course attack that position in its strongest form. This Dawkins does not do in the case of Einstein and his failure is the crucial index of his insincerity of academic purpose and therefore warrants me in charging him with having become, what he has probably believed to be an impossibility, a secularist bigot.
On page 82 of The God Delusion is a remarkable note. It reads ‘We might be seeing something similar today in the over-publicised tergiversation of the philosopher Antony Flew, who announced in his old age that he had been converted to belief in some sort of deity (triggering a frenzy of eager repetition all around the Internet).’
What is important about this passage is not what Dawkins is saying about Flew but what he is showing here about Dawkins. For if he had had any interest in the truth of the matter of which he was making so much he would surely have brought himself to write me a letter of enquiry. (When I received a torrent of enquiries after an account of my conversion to Deism had been published in the quarterly of the Royal Institute of Philosophy I managed – I believe – eventually to reply to every letter.)
This whole business makes all too clear that Dawkins is not interested in the truth as such but is primarily concerned to discredit an ideological opponent by any available means. That would itself constitute sufficient reason for suspecting that the whole enterprise of The God Delusion was not, as it at least pretended to be, an attempt to discover and spread knowledge of the existence or non-existence of God but rather an attempt – an extremely successful one – to spread the author’s own convictions in this area.
A less important point which needs to be made in this piece is that although the index of The God Delusion notes six references to Deism it provides no definition of the word ‘deism’. This enables Dawkins in his references to Deism to suggest that Deists are a miscellany of believers in this and that. The truth, which Dawkins ought to have learned before this book went to the printers, is that Deists believe in the existence of a God but not the God of any revelation. In fact the first notable public appearance of the notion of Deism was in the American Revolution. The young man who drafted the Declaration of Independence and who later became President Jefferson was a Deist, as were several of the other founding fathers of that abidingly important institution, the United States.
In that monster footnote to what I am inclined to describe as a monster book – The God Delusion – Dawkins reproaches me for what he calls my ignominious decision to accept, in 2006, the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth. The awarding Institution is Biola, The Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Dawkins does not say outright that his objection to my decision is that Biola is a specifically Christian institution. He obviously assumes (but refrains from actually saying) that this is incompatible with producing first class academic work in every department – not a thesis which would be acceptable in either my own university or Oxford or in Harvard.
In my time at Oxford, in the years immediately succeeding the second world war, Gilbert Ryle (then Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy in the University of Oxford) published a hugely influential book The Concept of Mind. This book revealed by implication, but only by implication, that minds are not entities of a sort which could coherently be said to survive the death of those whose minds they were.
Ryle felt responsible for the smooth pursuit of philosophical teaching and the publication of the findings of philosophical research in the university and knew that, at that time, there would have been uproar if he had published his own conclusion that the very idea of a second life after death was self-contradictory and incoherent. He was content for me to do this at a later time and in another place. I told him that if I were ever invited to give one of the Gifford Lecture series my subject would be The Logic of Mortality. When I was, I did and these Lectures were first published by Blackwell (Oxford) in 1987. They are still in print from Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY).
Finally, as to the suggestion that I have been used by Biola University. If the way I was welcomed by the students and the members of faculty whom I met on my short stay in Biola amounted to being used then I can only express my regret that at the age of 85 I cannot reasonably hope for another visit to this institution.

Retrieved from:


  1. So really Flew is just annoyed that Dawkins didn't write him a letter to clarify what his position, or reason for taking that position, was.

    Oh, and Dawkins is presenting his worldview with regard to the God Hypothesis.

    Wow. Colour me unimpressed!

    You should really read the God Delusion; it'll put a lot of these things into a much fuller context for you. Because it doesn't look like Flew has understood what the point of the book was.

    He mentions that Dawkins makes no reference to Einstein's views on the cosmos (and the implication of Design), but Dawkins has said, on multiple occasions, that the argument from fine-tuning does give him pause for thought. However, in his books he explains why he rejects this argument.

    Dawkins is a science-popularizer in the mold of Carl Sagan, his other books (Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, the Selfish Gene...) are excellent pieces of writing about biology that any lay person can get stuck into without needing a science degree.

    The God Delusion is, in a way, Dawkins stepping outside of his comfort zone to talk about something that he doesn't have much of a grasp of. However, he did it at just the right time to hit the cresting wave of the 'new' atheist movement and so he's inadvertently become something of a figurehead. This doesn't mean that all or any atheists agree with anything he writes or has written and many atheists disagree with his approach entirely.

    I'm not quite sure what the fixation is with Richard Dawkins to be honest!


  2. Hey Matt,

    "So really Flew is just annoyed that Dawkins didn't write him a letter to clarify what his position, or reason for taking that position, was."

    Yes that is one point, although you correctly went on to say that Flew thought Dawkins was biased and did not correctly present the opposing view. Namely...design, which is what converted him to deism.
    I like what Flew states about the need to follow the evidence...where there is design there is a designer. Where chance is not probable it must be rejected. (in my words)

    "I'm not quite sure what the fixation is with Richard Dawkins to be honest!"

    Yeah you are probably right. LOL. Somehow he has come up most commonly among atheists and while I'm on a role about something, I'm on role:)
    or is the spelling "roll"? dunno LOL.

    As for reading his book, hmmmm I could just about say that I have read his book by listening to two of his debates and one about his book. I did not find the content of his debate worth listening to...in my opinion. It's rather easy to sum up his fundamental view from my interpretation..."I cannot see there is a God therefore there is none"
    I disagree strongly with this view.

    NE way, maybe that is enough about dawkins for a bit!
    I half did it to bring Antony flew up on a point.



  3. I think it would be fairer to say, "As there is no evidence for a personal interventionist God, there probably is none" remember how Ray likes to misuse the word probably?

    It's quite misleading to say that Dawkins knows there is no God or says he does. He makes it quite clear that on his own 7 point scale that he's only between 6 & 6.9. He's quite sure, but he doesn't 'know'.

  4. Hey BathTub,

    Haven't seen you for a while:)
    Yay for the Kiwis! LOL. We got something in common!

    Back to the point. (I accidentally deleted your comments on my email notifications so I know of two..let me know if I missed any others)

    I have increased discussions on this topic.
    The way I see things is that everyone has a positive belief by the way we think/act/live.

    Dawkins chooses the belief that there is no God over the belief that there is a God.

    The Bible says faith is evidence of things unseen. It is unseen that there is no God therefore I need faith to follow the evidence for Him.
    It is also unseen that there is no God, so it is by faith that there is no God that Dawkins think,acts,lives.

    Atheists frequently say "I just dis-believe in the existence of God"...trying to shift the burden of proof.
    I could then reply "I dis-believe in the non-existence of God".

    Hope I made sense to you :)

    I don't have enough faith to believe this world was not guided and an accident, the evidence for me points toward a Designer...then further the Bible...then miracles...personal experience.

    Cya "mate" :) Let's be kiwi LOL


  5. Has it been a while? Maybe because I got so sick of Brazen's BS I stopped posting at AJ's/HC/FwT.

    That's a bit of a weird play on word's and doesn't really advance discussion much I feel.

    When I say I don't believe in the existence of Taniwha's, is the burden of proof on me to show there are no taniwha's? Or is it on the Kaumatua or such to prove there is?

    What about when you are speaking to someone of a different faith?

    'I don't need evidence of my God, but the burden of proof is on you to prove yours does.'

  6. Hey BathTub,

    "Has it been a while?"
    I remember you from Ray's blog and have chatted a little before.

    "What about when you are speaking to someone of a different faith?"

    We need to show each other why we believe/act/live the way we do.

    'I don't need evidence of my God, but the burden of proof is on you to prove yours does.'

    I never said that I expect you to accept no evidence for God. That would be stupid and blind faith.
    We both are to give evidence for what we believe/act/live. Mine for God, yours for no God or more accurately naturalism/materialism as our universe origins, as opposed to a Designer.