Monday, November 19, 2007

Antony Flew Finds Religion

11/19/2007--The New York Times ran a story in its Sunday Magazine a few weeks ago about the meanderings of Antony Flew on the subjects of God and religious belief. Flew has been famous since the 1950’s for his atheism. In recent years there have been indications that he might be changing his mind and might now believe in a kind of Prime Mover that created the universe but does not interfere with things. The article concerned the charges and counter-charges that Flew’s mind is failing and that certain Christians are taking advantage of his failing mental capacity to plant suggestions in his mind that do not represent his position. Believers who are involved with Flew deny this and point out that for a number of years Flew has been moving in a less atheistic direction; there does not seem any doubt that that has been the case.

The story acknowledges that this prime mover or deist God, which Flew associates with the beliefs of Thomas Jefferson and other deists, is not concerned about man’s activities. Certainly this is not the God of the Bible. What seems to be at stake in this dispute are the claims of intelligent design to scientific respectability. Flew recently supported the teaching or at least acknowledgment of intelligent design in British schools.

Lost in this controversy is the question whether Jefferson really did believe what is now being attributed to him. Readers of this blog are aware of Jefferson’s famous pronouncement concerning slavery that he feared for his country because of God’s justice.

Much more important than whether God intervened to create the complex eye or even create the universe is the question whether there are certain norms that have power in history. To put it bluntly, does justice roll down like waters, as the prophet said, or not?

If it does, the believer will say that God intervenes in history. The hallowed secularist does not speak in these terms, but holds just as tightly to the shape of history as does the believer.

These debates about creation are one more indication of the power of science and materialism. This new Flew, whom some believers welcome so ardently, denies the power of morality. Really, who cares about a God like that? If such a God exists, so what?

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