When I was still an atheist I came across a little book by Professor Antony Flew, a man who had spent the greater part of his life advocating atheism and in 2004 announced that his research into modern science, and particularly into DNA, had changed his mind. Wherever you stand on the issue his book detailing what led him to change his position after a life time of atheism is an engaging read.
“What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence.” -Interview in 2004
“Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science. Science spotlights three dimensions of nature that point to God. The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from matter. The third is the very existence of nature. But it is not science alone that has guided me. I have also been helped by a renewed study of the classical philosophical arguments.” - Interview in 2004
You can read more about how the order in the universe pointed Flew to God here.
What a shame; this post doesn’t accomplish what you thought it would. This post was designed to give the impression that an atheist converted to Christianity. However, that isn’t the case. Only an intellectually dishonest individual would suggest otherwise. Let’s hear it from the man himself.
(For the record, the title of the interview is misleading.)
HABERMAS: Tony, you recently told me that you have come to believe in the existence of God. Would you comment on that?
FLEW: Well, I don’t believe in the God of any revelatory system, although I am open to that. But it seems to me that the case for an Aristotelian God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence, is now much stronger than it ever was before. And it was from Aristotle that Aquinas drew the materials for producing his five ways of, hopefully, proving the existence of his God. Aquinas took them, reasonably enough, to prove, if they proved anything, the existence of the God of the Christian revelation. But Aristotle himself never produced a definition of the word “God,” which is a curious fact. But this concept still led to the basic outline of the five ways. It seems to me, that from the existence of Aristotle’s God, you can’t infer anything about human behaviour. So what Aristotle had to say about justice (justice, of course, as conceived by the Founding Fathers of the American republic as opposed to the “social” justice of John Rawls (9)) was very much a human idea, and he thought that this idea of justice was what ought to govern the behaviour of individual human beings in their relations with others.
HABERMAS: Once you mentioned to me that your view might be called Deism. Do you think that would be a fair designation?
FLEW: Yes, absolutely right. What Deists, such as the Mr. Jefferson who drafted the American Declaration of Independence, believed was that, while reason, mainly in the form of arguments to design, assures us that there is a God, there is no room either for any supernatural revelation of that God or for any transactions between that God and individual human beings.
HABERMAS: Then, would you comment on your “openness” to the notion of theistic revelation?
FLEW: Yes. I am open to it, but not enthusiastic about potential revelation from God. On the positive side, for example, I am very much impressed with physicist Gerald Schroeder’s comments on Genesis 1. (10) That this biblical account might be scientifically accurate raises the possibility that it is revelation (read more).
In another interview in 2004, Flew said, “I’m thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins (see here).”
I can’t think of any Christian who would say such a thing. Let’s move on to 2005:
Flew is also quick to point out that he is not a Christian. “I have become a deist like Thomas Jefferson.” He cites his affinity with Einstein who believed in “an Intelligence that produced the integrative complexity of creation.” To make things perfectly clear, he told me: “I understand why Christians are excited, but if they think I am going to become a convert to Christ in the near future, they are very much mistaken.”
"Are you Paul on the road to Damascus?" I asked him.
Flew died a Deist. He never called himself a Christian theist. In any case, your post proves something: an atheist who ceases to be an atheist is a rare occurrence; that is why it’s big news in Christian circles anytime it happens. However, a Christian who stops being a Christian is extremely common and thus, it is nothing to boast about. Most atheists on Tumblr are former Christians! And who cares? Christians are abandoning Christianity as we speak. So, go ahead and celebrate when an 81 year old man abandons atheism. We’re the ones that should be celebrating the deconversions of thousands of young people—yet we don’t. The problem lies on your side; you are to preach the Gospel to the nations. Therefore, you rejoice upon “winning a soul”. Well, you’re losing far more than you’re gaining. Oh, but that’s no cause for celebration. My bad.