The book's title declares: THERE IS NO GOD - but the 'NO' is scribbled out and replaced by an 'A'. And the subtitle adds, How the world's most notorious atheist changed his mind. Antony Flew engaged in debate with C.S. Lewis at the Oxford University Socratic Club in 1950, when he presented a paper called Theology and Falsification. This became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last century. The Socratic principle emphasised by this club - of following the evidence wherever it may lead - became a guiding principle throughout Flew's career.
It was that principle, he explains, which led him to change his mind about God after more than sixty years of atheism and a distinguished career as a philosopher. In a chapter entitled Atheism calmly considered (following John Wesley's sermon, Predestination calmly considered), Flew describes his various debates with theists over the decades. Some were attended by thousands. The professor found himself confronted in debate with increasing evidence of an intelligent designer behind the universe. Big Bang cosmology, implying that the universe had not always existed, had pulled the rug out from under some of his key arguments. Other developments in modern science too seemed to point to a higher Intelligence.
"In one report it was said that of all the great discoveries of modern science, the greatest was God!"
In May 2004, Flew was invited to participate in a symposium at
Asked that evening if recent work on the origin of life indicated creative Intelligence, Flew answered: 'Yes, I now think it does... DNA (investigations have shown)... that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.' Atheists, he explained, were fond of appealling to the idea that given enough time, chance could produce anything, even life. But Schroeder impressed Flew by debunking the so-called 'monkey theorem': that enough monkeys banging away on enough keyboards could eventually produce a Shakespearean sonnet. Or, by analogy, that life could emerge by chance.
Schroeder referred to an experiement conducted by the British National Arts Council, in which six monkeys were put in a cage with a computer. One month and fifty typed pages later, not a single word had been produced by the monkeys. Not even the single-letter words of 'a' or 'I'. Actually, argued Schroeder, the likelihood of getting a one-letter word was one in 27,000. What chance then was there of getting a fourteen-line Shakespearean sonnet by chance? Schroeder did the maths and came up with 10 to the 690th. To get that in perspective, the number of particles in the whole universe-protons, electrons, and neutrons-is a mere 10 to the 80th! For Flew, this was a convincing display that the monkey theorem he and others had often used to discount any intelligent Creator was simply 'rubbish'.
"Look and follow the evidence wherever it may lead."
Flew calls his discovery of the Divine a pilgrimage of reason, not of faith. He claims no personal experience of God or any experience of the supernatural or miraculous. Yet he includes as an appendix in his book an article by Bishop
The book's other remarkable appendix, by Flew's collaborator
Flew's book is a powerful challenge to all to 'look' and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.