NOTE: This post was originally published on May 29, 2008, on my personal blog. I am in the process of moving relevant articles to the Well-Read Man site. Please enjoy this slightly-old reading-related article.
Today’s atheists and Christians seem to rub each other the wrong way. Whether it’s a “new atheist” like Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins dumping on believers, or a James Dobson type identifying atheists as the source of all evils in the world, there’s sure to be someone dogmatic making a rude statement somewhere. But it wasn’t always like this. If you go back to England sixty years ago, you would have seen C. S. Lewis, the famous Narnia author and Christian apologist, rubbing elbows regularly with his colleague Antony Flew, an atheistic philosopher. Despite being as Dobson-Dawkins as you could get, meetings at Oxford University’s Socratic Club were cordial and deeply philosophical. In this atmosphere of “following the argument wherever it leads,” those with opposing views seemed to follow that path together as friends.
After following that Socratic path for decades, Anthony Flew has been rubbed the right way, at least from his own perspective. The man identified as “the world’s most notorious atheist” is now a believer in God. Not Lewis’s personal God necessarily, but still a powerful, omni-everything creator God. In his new book, There Is A God, Professor Antony Flew documents his journey from atheism to theism. Some of the book is auto-biographical, providing the typical glimpse into an author’s formative years. But most of the text is devoted to providing what Flew loves doing most: philosophizing. In this case, he waxes philosophical on God, detailing the logical steps that led him to make a slow but firm about face away from atheism.
While Flew has stopped short of endorsing Christianity, he includes as an appendix compelling content from Bishop N. T. Wright concerning the claims surrounding Jesus Christ. Although Bishop Wright’s discussion is thought-provoking, its short length makes it less influential than the more general proofs for God found in Flew’s main chapters.
If you consider yourself to be left-brained you will certainly enjoy the book, whether you believe in God or not. Flew is a trained ivy-league professor and an octogenarian, so he slips into incoherent philosophical ramblings and twenty-syllable words periodically. But most of the text is cogent, well organized, and pensive. It might not be a page-turner, but for some it will be a life-turner.