December 22, 2007

"It is unclear whether Flew has lost the desire to reason effectively or whether he no longer cares what is published in his name."

Atheists wonder how believers can believe such things, but when atheists themselves turn into believers, can you believe them? When Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris are raking in so much money writing about their atheism, what's an old atheist to do? Where's the publishing niche? Ah, there!

I love that key clues are the words “beverages,” “vacation,” and “candy.”

21 comments:

Revenant said...

I've never heard of the the guy, myself. According to the Wikipedia article on him, he became a Deist because he couldn't conceive of a naturalistic explanation for abiogenesis. That's a bit silly.

blogging cockroach said...

so flew finally flew into the concept
of an infinitely intelligent mind
behind it all
i could have told him that
and i only have 960 brain cells

isnt it a bit odd that the reviewer is writing a book
about nothingness...
--kinda the jerry seinfeld of philosophy--
i think i'll write a book about being
but frankly nobody's sounding too original here
this morning

rhhardin said...

God is always renegotiating covenants too.

Trooper York said...

Listen, it is perfectly all right that Christopher Hitchens doesn't believe in God. I don't believe in alcoholics.

Pastafarian said...

Huh. An 84 year old guy suddenly believes in God. I mean sure why not? Usually males only live to be 70ish, so I guess now would be the time.

Palladian said...

"He believes the fact that nature obeys precise mathematical laws, the fact that life and mind have emerged from inanimate matter, and the fact that the universe exists at all are best explained by positing a God."

So when confronted with concepts we don't yet comprehend, we humans simply do jazz hands and scream "It's God!!!"

How quaint.

Titan said...

The Times Magazine had a long interview with Flew a few weeks ago. The man was clearly slipping quickly. Sad.

John Burgess said...

Palladian: How sophomoric.

former law student said...

Those three words are insufficient proof of the existence of Varghese. First, Indians grow up learning British English, where drinks, holidays, and sweets reign. Second, editors of books for the American market routinely eliminate confusing Anglicisms from the text. Third, even Brits drop Anglicisms from their writing: it's been a long time since I've read anything featuring kerbs, gaols, or waggons. Fourth, American English has become the world standard variety, although Anglicisms such as "vetting" have come into US speech. (Since Hillary has been thoroughly vetted, I would like to see a DVM fondle her fetlock.)

Freeman Hunt said...

Flew isn't some intellectual lightweight as some seem to suggest. He's very often cited in works about philosophy of religion. He posited that statements that cannot be falsified are meaningless and argued that claims for God's existence are of this type. Most famous, perhaps, is his explanation of this principle using the parable of the invisible gardener.

I didn't know until I saw this post that he now believed in God.

blogging cockroach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blogging cockroach said...

freeman et al--
it's no use arguing god with robo-atheists
they're as relentless as insects
of course i'm an insect and not at all relentless
on the other hand i do believe in god
which may have something to do with it

fls--
youre quite right everybodys an American nowadays
tommys dad --tommy's the boy whose computer i use--
wished that were true back in the days
when he bought an mg and the manual had words
like 'tyre' and 'flat battery' in it
plus a lot of brit mechanics slang
that didn't make too much sense
other than that the car was okay
except it leaked oil and the electrical system was crap
so, what did he expect
a rolls-royce...

John Kindley said...

That is classic: "it's no use arguing god with robo-atheists
they're as relentless as insects"

No offense, Revenant.

Paul Snively said...

I'm still cackling over the fact that the reviewer's name is "Gottlieb." You can't make this stuff up.

Revenant said...

So when confronted with concepts we don't yet comprehend, we humans simply do jazz hands and scream "It's God!!!" How quaint.

It is odd that person with Flew's credentials would commit that particular logical fallacy. Maybe his mind isn't what it used to be.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Freeman Hunt is correct; Flew is a respected philosopher.

Whenever philosophcal lightweights of the sort like Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris got into trouble with their theories, they could always count on Anthony Flew to back them up with a thoughtful and serious argument. He will be missed.

The most likely candidate to take his place is Daniel Dennett, one of the founders of a curious group who call themselves "The Brights". But Dennett has proved to be an embarrassment, and something of a crank to boot. His notion that atoms are conscious is thought by some to create a serious risk of introducing the ancient belief in panpsychism into atheistic doctrine. The concern is, that on a collective level, this might lead humanity back to the worship of rocks, trees and even insects.

There is no question that the loss of Flew in this dramatic fashion has created a serious crisis for atheism as a belief system.

(As for reviewer Gottleib's new book on "nothingness", I wish him well. But who will buy a book that has nothing but blank pages?)

Revenant said...

Whenever philosophcal lightweights of the sort like Dawkins

If I may interrupt your ad hominem attack for a moment, I'd like to make two points.

First of all, as this article details, Flew appears to have suffered a serious mental decline and is no longer able to coherently defend or describe his beliefs. So it might be more appropriate to say that he USED to be an intellectual heavyweight.

Secondly, while Dawkins may be a "philosophical lightweight" if we're talking about the subset of philosophy that deals exclusively in ideas without reconciling them with reality, he is definitely a heavyweight in natural philosophy, specifically where genetics and evolutionary theory are concerned. Furthermore, Flew himself has no apparent expertise in genetics or evolution.

And that's the key point: Flew's newly discovered deism isn't based in philosophy. It is based in his limited understanding of, you guessed it, genetics and evolution -- a subject on which HE is the "lightweight" and people like Dawkins are the experts. So praising his expert credentials in this case is just an Argument from Authority fallacy, because he hasn't GOT any expertise in the area in question.

The reason that Flew cites for his Deism -- that he cannot conceive of an alternative explanation for life -- was utterly demolished by Dawkins and countless other people years ago (I recommend "The Blind Watchmaker"). Flew really ought to be embarrassed for making it. Maybe he got tired of being an intellectual "heavyweight" and decided to spend some time thinking like a college freshman for a change. Or, more likely, he's just an old man with failing mental health who is being manipulated by his agenda-driven "co-author".

There is no question that the loss of Flew in this dramatic fashion has created a serious crisis for atheism as a belief system.

Huh? Atheism doesn't have prophets, Popes, or other Great Leaders. No matter how famous an atheist may be (and few atheists have ever even heard of Anthony Flew), his "loss" means nothing. The truth is not determined by majority vote, nor is it handed down to the masses by those in authority. I'm not an atheist because I read Dawkins, Hitchens, and Flew -- I'm an atheist because I (like everyone else) was born not believing in gods, and nobody has ever managed to give me an intelligent and rational reason to believe gods exist. In other words, I believe there are no gods for the same reason I believe my living room is not filled with invisible miniature hippopotami.

The only way to create a "crisis" in atheism would be to think up a convincing argument for the existence of gods, which neither Flew nor anyone else has ever managed to do.

Freeman Hunt said...

Secondly, while Dawkins may be a "philosophical lightweight" if we're talking about the subset of philosophy that deals exclusively in ideas without reconciling them with reality, he is definitely a heavyweight in natural philosophy, specifically where genetics and evolutionary theory are concerned.

Is that what you conceive philosophy of religion to be? That's not what it is. Dawkins' work is also part of philosophy of religion.

Revenant said...

Dawkins' work is also part of philosophy of religion.

Dawkins has contributed to the philosophy of religion, but most of his work is outside of that area.

Granted, many of his arguments have theological *implications*, to some religions at least, but that doesn't make them religious arguments. For example, if I have a religious belief that 1+1=3, that doesn't mean that anyone teaching that 1+1=2 is making a religious argument. It just means that I'm wrong. :)

el said...

I can't understand the furore of this third class academic turning to God after a lifetime of denial! What are we supposed to hope for? That Dawkins and his god-besotted ilk, (actually the adjective was used to describe Spinoza!) will finally find that their lives have been a lie, and that what they were looking for outside themselves can't be found there?
There was a far far more famous atheist, Malcolm Muggeridge, whose accomplishments as an atheist far far surpassed that of this second division of Dawkins, Hitchens et al, who also late in life converted to Catholicism, which will, of course, be the fate of this second echelon!
Never forget! Atheists think about God far far more than religious people do! They want to confront Him, challenge Him, argue with him. The fact that they then deny that He exists is, to say the least, contrary! But there is time for them!

Revenant said...

Atheists think about God far far more than religious people do!

I never think about gods at all unless religious people bring them up. Why would I? They don't exist.

hey want to confront Him, challenge Him, argue with him.

Um, no... we don't think the guy exists.