Famous Atheist Now Believes in God

By Spencer D Gear

One of the World’s Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less, based on Scientific Evidence [1]

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Is it possible that a leading atheist, one who has opposed God in active atheism for most of his adult life, could now believe in God?That’s the provocative story that was reported in New York on December 9, 2004.I’m referring to British professor of philosopher, Antony Flew, who has “changed his mind,” after more than 50 years of atheism.Christianity Today considers that he is “Thinking Straighter.” [2]An Associated Press article stated that Flew “now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video” [3]. Flew was the son of a Methodist minister and he became an atheist at age 15.

Professor of Philosophy & Theology, Dr. Gary Habermas, has interviewed Flew about his change of mind, “Atheist Becomes Theist.”At the time of this interview, Flew was aged 81 and said that “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” but he admitted that his theism was like the Deism of Mr. Jefferson who drafted the American Declaration of Independence.However, when Flew was asked by Habermas whether he was “open” to the “notion of theistic revelation,” his response was: ” 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 Schroederâ’s comments on Genesis 1. [4] That this biblical account might be scientifically accurate raises the possibility that it is revelation. [5]

Flew is getting back to an intelligent first cause of the universe as explanations for the universe’s origination and the complexity of its nature.At this point, Associated Press reported that Flew’s Deistic God was “not actively involved in people’s lives” and was like that of Thomas Jefferson.He explained further in a telephone interview with Associated Press, “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,” he said. “It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose.” [6]

During his teaching career at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele and Reading universities in the UK, Flew has claimed that there was a lack of evidence for the existence of God. Why this change?”There was no one moment of change but a gradual conclusion over recent months for Flew, a spry man who still does not believe in an afterlife,” was how Associated Press expressed it.

Back in 1950, Flew wrote, “Theology and Falsification,” which was based on a paper he presented in 1949 to a weekly Oxford University religious forum that was led by C. S. Lewis, the Socratic Club.

Flew told James Beverley that he

detests any notion that a loving God would send any of his creatures to eternal flames. He cannot fathom how intelligent Christians can believe this doctrine. He even said in his debate with Terry Miethe that he has entertained the thought that the Creator should punish, though not endlessly, only those who defend the notion of eternal torment. On this matter, Flew is willing to entertain fresh approaches to divine justice. In fact, he had just obtained Lewis’s book The Great Divorce in order to assess Lewis’s unique interpretation on the topic of judgment [7].

A hint at Flew’s turn around was indicated in the August-September issue of the British, Philosophy Now, magazine when he stated that “it has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.”In the video about which Associated Press reported, Flew pointed to the biologists’ examination of DNA, which “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved.” The video is titled, “Has Science Discovered God?”[8].

What process was involved in causing Antony Flew to move towards a belief in a God rather than in philosophical atheism?He told Dr. Benjamin Wiker in “An Exclusive Flew Interview, that

there were two factors in particular that were decisive. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe. The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself which is far more complex than the physical Universe can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint despite numerous efforts to do so. With every passing year, the more that was discovered about the richness and inherent intelligence of life, the less it seemed likely that a chemical soup could magically generate the genetic code.

What does Flew think of Richard Dawkins’ promotion of atheism?He explained to Wiker:

The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical. The best confirmation of this radical gulf is Richard Dawkins’ comical effort to argue in The God Delusion that the origin of life can be attributed to a “lucky chance.” If that’s the best argument you have, then the game is over. No, I did not hear a Voice. It was the evidence itself that led me to this conclusion.

James Beverley asked Flew about the impact of other scholars on him and particularly, “Who amazes you the most of the defenders of Christian theism?”He replied,

I would have to put Alvin Plantinga pretty high,” and he also complimented Miethe, Moreland, and Craig for their philosophical skills. He regards Richard Swinburne, the Oxford philosophy of religion professor, as the leading figure in the United Kingdom. “There is really no competition to him.” He said that Habermas has made “the most impressive case for Christian theism on the basis of New Testament writings” [9].

Some detractors

It should not be surprising that there are some opponents to Flew’s u-turn.Richard Carrier of The Secular Web accuses Flew of”willfully sloppy scholarship” [10].

The secular web stories are denying this story is true. See: In 2001, Antony Flew denied this change of mind, “Sorry to Disappoint, but I’m Still an Atheist!” In 2004, “Antony Flew Considers God…Sort Of“.


The exclusive interview between Dr. Antony Flew and Dr. Gary Habermas in 2004 should lay to rest the view that Antony Flew has not changed his mind. Read it in My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism, in which he states that “the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries.”

Flew has stated his case for theism in his 2007 book, There Is a God. This is not the God of Christian revelation, but Flew states that he is “open” to such evidence. The New York Times (16 April 2010) reported, “Antony Flew, Philosopher and Ex-Atheist, Dies at 87” (died 8 April 2010, Reading, England).


1.I originally located this Associated Press story at ABC News (USA) at: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=315976 [cited 22 May 2005].It is no longer available online, but I located it at MSNBC: World News, “There is a God, leading atheist concludes: Philosopher says scientific evidence changed his mind,” at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6688917/ [cited 13 November 2007].

2.James A. Beverley 2007, “Thinking Straighter: Why the world’s most famous atheist now believes in God,” Christianity Today, 12th November [Online], available from: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/april/29.80.html [cited 13 November 2007].

3.See Note 1.

4.Gerald L. Schroeder 1998, The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom, Broadway Books, New York.

5.Gary R. Habermas interviewed Antony Flew 2004, “Atheist Becomes Theist: Exclusive Interview with Former Atheist Antony Flew,” Philosophia Christia, the Journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Winter [Online], available from: http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/ (cited 13 November 2007).

6.See Note 1.

7.See Note 2.

8.See Note 1.

9.See Note 2.

10.See Note 2.

11. See Note 2.

Flew admits that “God could, in principle, puncture his bias against the supernatural” [11]

Copyright (c) 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 October 2015.