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Tags "There Is A God" , Antony Flew , atheists

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Old 10th February 2010, 06:32 AM   #1
CriticalSock
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There is a god - Anthony Flew

I'm about to start reading "There is a god" by Anthony Flew, having been given it to read by my mother.

"In There Is a God, one of the world's preeminent atheists discloses how his commitment to "follow the argument wherever it leads" led him to a belief in God as Creator. This is a compelling and refreshingly open-minded argument that will forever change the atheism debate."

That's the blurb on the back cover.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there such a thing as a preeminent atheist? Does this book provide a refreshingly open-minded argument?

Should I be focussing more on the fact that my mother has asked me to read a "Winner of the Christianity today book award" book, but who because of being a jehovahs witness explicitly rejects all other forms of christianity as being satanic led false religion?

I'll post my thoughts when I've read it, but I'd love to hear your initial thoughts beforehand.
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Old 10th February 2010, 06:47 AM   #2
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Anthony Flew is a philosopher not a scientist. He's also an old man. He didn't convert to Christianity he came to believe in a creator but not a beneficial creator. His God resembles a Diests concept of a God. He for instance does not believe in life after death. Professor flews God created life and then left.

As for your mother being a JW you have my condolences.
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Old 10th February 2010, 07:16 AM   #3
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I never even heard of this "prominent atheist" until the theists started trotting him around back when.
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Old 10th February 2010, 07:30 AM   #4
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http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/flew01.htm

some excellent writing by Flew on the subject. These arguments stand alone regardless of the author's later apparent change of tack.

Read you mother's book also by all means. But judge it solely on the quality of the arguments made rather than the supposed authority of Flew.

If you are tempted to be swayed by Argument from Authority remember that there is significant controversy about the authorship of this book with Mark Oppenheimer claiming that it is almost entirely the work of Co-Author Roy Abraham Varghese and that in his interview with Flew the distinguished former atheist appeared to be in a state of serious mental decline with little or no recollection of the content of the book he supposedly co- wrote.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/ma...ew-t.html?_r=1
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2..._exploitat.php
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Old 10th February 2010, 07:53 AM   #5
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Yeah CainKane, I have a mother, brother, sister and a bevy of subsidiary relatives all stuck in the JW trap. It's a cross I have to bear... no wait a stake!
(JW's reject the cross story and go with a stake one instead. It's a part of their charm...)

Ocelot, I'm glad that I've been given a book of his. If I didn't read the book and just accepted the title and the authors credentials then it would be an argument from authority. As I'm actually going to read the arguments that he puts forth in his book, it'll stand or fall on their merits instead.

Thanks for the links, I'll read through them after the book.
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Old 10th February 2010, 08:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by CriticalSock View Post
Ocelot, I'm glad that I've been given a book of his. If I didn't read the book and just accepted the title and the authors credentials then it would be an argument from authority. As I'm actually going to read the arguments that he puts forth in his book, it'll stand or fall on their merits instead.

Thanks for the links, I'll read through them after the book.
Very wise. Please do report back with your analysis. I haven't read the book and after reading the material in those links I have no plan to do so however a third/fourth opinion might be illuminating.
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Old 24th April 2014, 08:18 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by CriticalSock View Post
Yeah CainKane, I have a mother, brother, sister and a bevy of subsidiary relatives all stuck in the JW trap. It's a cross I have to bear... no wait a stake!
(JW's reject the cross story and go with a stake one instead. It's a part of their charm...)

Ocelot, I'm glad that I've been given a book of his. If I didn't read the book and just accepted the title and the authors credentials then it would be an argument from authority. As I'm actually going to read the arguments that he puts forth in his book, it'll stand or fall on their merits instead.

Thanks for the links, I'll read through them after the book.
Sorry to raise a zombi.

Did you ever finish the book ? I got it as a loan, but so far from the critics, and from what I read on the wiki about the argument inside, I am not sure if i want to lose time to read for myself, when i have so many other books to read.
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Old 27th April 2014, 09:35 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Ysidro View Post
I never even heard of this "prominent atheist" until the theists started trotting him around back when.
Ditto. The only thing I have ever heard about Anthony Flew is that he's a 'prominent atheist'.
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Old 13th June 2018, 07:52 AM   #9
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This thread seems to be destined to be raised from the dead again and again.

I would also like to hear more from people who have read it. Like others, I got it as a gift from friends who are believers.

Because the book is claimed to be written by the world's most prominent atheist (yes I too had never heard about him), I had some high expectations regarding the arguments, and I looked forward to have my scientific foundations shaken. Unfortunately, the actual arguments were just a rehash of things we have heard so many times before. For Flew, Intelligent Design seemed to be the clinching argument (he does not appear to have read any critique on this by scientists), but he also subscribed to the Fine-Tuning argument, and in this case he cites a long list of scientists who agree with him, prominently among them Albert Einstein. He does not mention Victor Stenger who has written an entire book against the Fine-Tuning argument.

Next comes the argument of how unlikely abiogenesis is supposed to be, along with a claim that we'll never figure out how it happened, because we can't.

Another of his arguments is the philosophical one that we can never explain the mind, because it is separate from matter, and consequently, it is impossible to build real AI. There is not even a hint that he has considered the awkward fact that people's minds change when their brains are damaged. So much for the argument that they are not linked.

On top of these arguments is a philosophical discussion about why God (yes, not a god, but God. I have no idea why he dismisses polytheism) is omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipotent. These pose problems for lesser minds, but the answer is quite simply because this is God's nature which is mysterious, and we cannot expect to understand God because we are limited to our earthly life! In this way, he can do evil, and yet be benevolent, and his omnipotent powers are not a contradiction in terms.

We are even treated to the claim that God is the simplest explanation of everything, and needs to be the Original Cause. I have difficulty understanding why an entity that can conceive of the entire universe is itself simpler than the universe (or is it "God": 3 letters; "Nature": 6 letters. Consequently "God" is simpler than "Nature"?), and I cannot understand why God can be her own cause, but the universe cannot get the same exemption from causality.

I do not know if Varghese was the real author of the book, but apparently Flew has toured Christian congregations with his newly-found belief, so he cannot be entirely oblivious to his own conversion. And he may claim that he is a deist, but there is an appendix with an interview with a Christian priest and philosopher who explains why Jesus must be the Son of God, and why his resurrection is a theological necessity. This may have been one of Varghese's contributions, but he is clearly marked as the author of other appendices, but this one has Flew's name on it.

The only worn-out argument that I did not see was how Near Death Experiences are often touted as being a sign of the eternal life and evidence of angels.

Well, I did not convert, and I frankly find the book a huge disappointment.
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Old 13th June 2018, 09:01 AM   #10
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Who? Never heard of him. Oh my so he wants to called natural processes 'God', okay if that floats his boat who cares?

Does he explain what it is that all these people are claiming to be hearing in their heads?
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Old 13th June 2018, 10:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Hans View Post
Does he explain what it is that all these people are claiming to be hearing in their heads?
He does mention spiritual experiences as something that lies beyond the grasp of science.

It is puzzling that this former super-atheist seems to have no knowledge of standard atheist arguments, and no criticism of standard theist arguments. One reason can be that he is a philosopher, and he is used to handle purely philosophical debates. There is a long chapter on his previous life as atheist and all his books on atheism, and his atheist philosophy is far too theoretical for me. It is clear that he thinks that the question about the existence of God (he never cares about other religions) is something that he believes can be solved by pure philosophy.
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Old 13th June 2018, 10:34 PM   #12
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The mental strain is starting to show the splits at the seams, I suspect.
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Old 13th June 2018, 11:04 PM   #13
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I think that it is worth pointing out that he has been dead for more than eight years.


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Old 13th June 2018, 11:39 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
I think that it is worth pointing out that he has been dead for more than eight years.


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That WILL slow him down, then.
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Old 14th June 2018, 12:45 AM   #15
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He did expressly state in the book that he was a deist, and that he did not believe in life after death, so he should be quite surprised if he finds himself in an afterlife.

On the other hand, he spends the rest of the book being sympathetic to Christian claims of every kind. But that may be his ghost-writer Varghese's influence.
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Old 14th June 2018, 03:26 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by CriticalSock View Post
<>one of the world's preeminent atheists
Yeah, right. Flew was unfortunately senile, and had been for some time (he was 87 when he died in '10). The book was almost entirely written by Varghese (his "co-collaborator").
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