Saturday, January 08, 2005

So an atheist can change their mind....

It doesn't typically happen. For they typically deny that they even have a mind to change and exchange it for just a brain. If they only had a mind.

This one is no C.S. Lewis, unfortunately. But it is still an interesting story:
"....One of the most renowned atheists of the past half century has changed his mind and decided that there is a God after all.

Antony Flew, 81, emeritus professor of philosophy at Reading University, whose arguments for atheism have influenced scholars around the world, has been converted to the view that some sort of deity created the universe. Flew, the son of a Methodist minister, is keen to repent. "As people have certainly been influenced by me, I want to try and correct the enormous damage I may have done," he said yesterday. But he is unlikely to proclaim his faith from a pulpit. He is still not a Christian and dismisses the conventional forms of divinity as "the monstrous oriental despots of the religions of Christianity and Islam." [The Big Meanie syndrome, etc., a sort of Cosmic Oedipal complex is often mixed into atheism.] He also stands by his rejection of an afterlife.

Instead, he believes that new scientific discoveries have revealedthe existence of an organising intelligence. Investigation of DNA, he said, "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved". Darwin's theory of evolution does not explain the origin and development of life to Flew's satisfaction. "I have been persuaded that it is simply out of the question that the first living matter evolved out of dead matter and then developed into an extraordinarily complicated creature," he said. Flew finds the conventional explanation that life arose out of a complex chemical brew or primordial soup "improbable." So he is emulating Socrates and "following the argument wherever it leads. The conclusion is-there must have been some intelligence".

His volte face is all the more remarkable given his vehement denial of internet rumours in 2001 that he had renounced his atheism. His response was entitled: "Sorry To Disappoint, but I'm Still an Atheist!"

He has always described himself as a "negative atheist", asserting the impossibility of either verifying or disproving the existence of God, a position he explained in his 1950 paper Theology and Falsification, reprinted 40 times in many languages. [I.e., the modern atheistic tendency to change atheism to agnosticism. It's really quite typical and perhaps illustrates the weakness of atheism for now. I believe a pattern of principles will rise again one day, like a principality, a Beast that was only wounded. Sure is nice to live now, if that speculation is true.] His revised views are likely to cause as big a commotion as the astronomer royal's recent speculation that the universe could be no more than a computer simulation, with humans reduced to bits of software.

Sir Martin Rees, Royal Society professor of astronomy at Cambridge University, said in a Channel 4 television documentary that on current trends that computers would be able to simulate worlds as complicated as the one we inhabit -or think we do. "This raises the philosophical question: could we ourselves bein such a simulation and could what we think is the universe be some sort of vault of heaven rather than the real thing?" he asked.

[That is getting to gnosticism, back again! The Matrix....etc., that notion has been around since ancient times in philosophy.]

Flew became an atheist at 15 and went on to proclaim his non-credo while teaching at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele and Reading universities.The professor is now revising the introduction to one of his 23 books, God and Philosophy, incorporating his revised ideas.

"I am certain I shall surprise a lot of people," he said.
(Sunday Times (London)
December 12, 2004, Sunday
SECTION: Home news; News; 7
HEADLINE: Sorry, says atheist-in-chief, I do believe in God after all
BYLINE: Stuart Wavell and Will Iredale)

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