Tag Archives: Bertrand Russell

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 46 Friedrich Nietzsche (Featured artist is Thomas Schütte)

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

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Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” , episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted,Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not aphilosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplifiedintellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pillbecause Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art andculture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about thembecause they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not that of acautious academic who labors for exhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts andthey have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where ourwestern society was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youthenthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decadesbecause of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true asSchaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? There is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This linkshows how to do that.

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.” 

Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chanceplus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTSARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULTOF MINDLESS CHANCE.

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Long Live Experience!
Another way to understand all this is to say that modern man has become a mystic. The word mystic makes people think immediately of a religious person – praying for hours, using techniques of meditation, and so on. Of course, the word mysticism includes this, but modern mysticism is different in a profound way. As the late Professor H. R. Rookmaaker of the Free University of Amsterdam said, modern mysticism is “a nihilistic mysticism, for God is dead.”
The mystics within the Christian tradition (Meister Eckhart in the thirteenth century, for example) believed in an objective personal God. But, they said, though God is really there, the mind is not the way to reach Him. On the other hand, modern mysticism comes from a quite different background, and this we must be clear about.
When modern philosophers realized they were not going to be able to find answers on the basis of reason, they crossed over in one way or another to the remarkable position of saying, “That doesn’t matter!” Even though there are no answers by way of the mind, we will find them without the mind. The “answer” – whatever that may be – is to be “experienced,” for it cannot be thought. Notice, the answer is not to be the experience of an objective and supernatural God whom, as the medieval mystics thought, it was difficult to understand with the mind. The developments we are considering came after Friedrich Nietzsche (1884-1900) had celebrated the “death of God,” after the materialist philosophy had worked its way throughout the culture and created skepticism about the supernatural.
The modern mystic, therefore, is not trying to “feel” his way to a God he believes is really there (but whom he cannot approach by way of the mind). The modern mystic does not know if anything is there. All he knows is that he cannot know anything ultimate through the mind. So what is left is experience as experience. This is the key to understanding modern man in the West: Forget your mind; just experience! It may seem extreme – but we say it carefully – this is the philosophy by which the majority of people in the West are now living. For everyday purposes the mind is a useful instrument, but for the things of meaning, for the answers to the big questions, it is set aside.
“Whatever Reality may be, it is beyond the conception of the finite intellect; if follows that attempts at descriptions are misleading, unprofitable, and a waste of time.” That is a quotation from a modern Buddhist in the West. The secular existentialists may seem a long way from such an Eastern formulation about reality, but their rejection of the intellect as a means of finding answers amounts to the same thing. That is what the existentialist “revolt,” as it has been called, is. It is a revolt against the mind, a passionate rejection of the Enlightenment ideal of reason. As Professor William Barrett of New York University has put it: “Existentialism is the counter-Enlightenment come at last to philosophic expression.”93
The way to handle philosophy, according to the existential methodology, is not by the use of the mind that considers (impersonally and objectively) propositions about reality. Rather, the way to deal with the big questions is by relying only on the individual’s experience. That which is being considered is not necessarily an experience of something that really exists. What is involved is the experience as an experience, whether or not any objective reality is being experienced. We are reminded of our imaginary hero who said, “Help is coming,” and therefore kept himself going, even though he had no reason to think any help existed. It is the experience as the experience that counts, and that is the end of it.
There are, of course, some valuable insights in what the existentialists have said. For one, they were right to protest against scientism and the impersonalism of much post-Enlightenment thought. They were right to point out that answers have to be “lived” and not just “thought.” (We will say more about this in Chapter 6.) But their rejection of the mind is no solution to anything. It seems like a solution but is in fact a counsel of despair.
Having started with the apparently different positions of the Buddhist and the secular existentialist, we should now look at the culture at large. One of the “cultural breakpoints” was Haight-Ashbury in the sixties. There the counterculture, the drug culture, was born. Writing about the experience of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters in the early days of Haight-Ashbury, Tom Wolfe says,
Gradually the Prankster attitude began to involve the main things religious mystics have always felt, things common to Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and for that matter Theosophists and even flying-saucer cultists. Namely, the experiencing of an Other World, a higher level of reality….
Every vision, every insight…came out of the new experience….And how to get it across to the multitudes who have never had this experience for themselves? You couldn’t put it into words. You had to create conditions in which they would feel an approximation of that feeling, the sublime kairos (italics added).
Do you see what is involved here? We can agree this represents a wild-fringe element of the counterculture which is already behind us. But we must understand that the central ideas and attitudes are now part of the air we breathe in the West. “Every insight … came out of the new experience.” Experience! – that is the word! And how to tell it? “You couldn’t put it into words.”

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

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Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche Biography

Philosopher, Scholar (1844–1900)
Influential German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is known for his writings on good and evil, the end of religion in modern society and the concept of a “super-man.”

Synopsis

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844, in Röcken bei Lützen, Germany. In his brilliant but relatively brief career, he published numerous major works of philosophy, including Twilight of the Idols and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In the last decade of his life he suffered from insanity; he died on August 25, 1900. His writings on individuality and morality in contemporary civilization influenced many major thinkers and writers of the 20th century.

Early Years and Education

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844, in Röcken bei Lützen, a small village in Prussia (part of present-day Germany). His father, Carl Ludwig Nietzsche, was a Lutheran preacher; he died when Nietzsche was 4 years old. Nietzsche and his younger sister, Elisabeth, were raised by their mother, Franziska.

Nietzsche attended a private preparatory school in Naumburg and then received a classical education at the prestigious Schulpforta school. After graduating in 1864, he attended the University of Bonn for two semesters. He transferred to the University of Leipzig, where he studied philology, a combination of literature, linguistics and history. He was strongly influenced by the writings of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. During his time in Leipzig, he began a friendship with the composer Richard Wagner, whose music he greatly admired.

Teaching and Writing in the 1870s

In 1869, Nietzsche took a position as professor of classical philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. During his professorship he published his first books, The Birth of Tragedy (1872) and Human, All Too Human (1878). He also began to distance himself from classical scholarship, as well as the teachings of Schopenhauer, and to take more interest in the values underlying modern-day civilization. By this time, his friendship with Wagner had deteriorated. Suffering from a nervous disorder, he resigned from his post at Basel in 1879.

Literary and Philosophical Work of the 1880s

For much of the following decade, Nietzsche lived in seclusion, moving from Switzerland to France to Italy when he was not staying at his mother’s house in Naumburg. However, this was also a highly productive period for him as a thinker and writer. One of his most significant works, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, was published in four volumes between 1883 and 1885. He also wroteBeyond Good and Evil (published in 1886), The Genealogy of Morals (1887) and Twilight of the Idols (1889).

In these works of the 1880s, Nietzsche developed the central points of his philosophy. One of these was his famous statement that “God is dead,” a rejection of Christianity as a meaningful force in contemporary life. Others were his endorsement of self-perfection through creative drive and a “will to power,” and his concept of a “super-man” or “over-man” (Übermensch), an individual who strives to exist beyond conventional categories of good and evil, master and slave.

Decline and Later Years

Nietzsche suffered a collapse in 1889 while living in Turin, Italy. The last decade of his life was spent in a state of mental incapacitation. The reason for his insanity is still unknown, although historians have attributed it to causes as varied as syphilis, an inherited brain disease, a tumor and overuse of sedative drugs. After a stay in an asylum, Nietzsche was cared for by his mother in Naumburg and his sister in Weimar, Germany. He died in Weimar on August 25, 1900.

Legacy and Influence

Nietzsche is regarded as a major influence on 20th century philosophy, theology and art. His ideas on individuality, morality and the meaning of existence contributed to the thinking of philosophers Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault; Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, two of the founding figures of psychiatry; and writers such as Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse.

Less beneficially, certain aspects of Nietzsche’s work were used by the Nazi Party of the 1930s–’40s as justification for its activities; this selective and misleading use of his work has somewhat darkened his reputation for later audiences.

The Absurdity of Life without God

William Lane Craig

Why on atheism life has no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose, and why this view is unlivable.

The Necessity of God and Immortality

Man, writes Loren Eiseley, is the Cosmic Orphan. He is the only creature in the universe who asks, “Why?” Other animals have instincts to guide them, but man has leamed to ask questions. “Who am I?” man asks. “Why am I here? Where am I going?” Since the Enlightenment, when he threw off the shackles of religion, man has tried to answer these questions without reference to God. But the answers that came back were not exhilarating, but dark and terrible. “You are the accidental by-product of nature, a result of matter plus time plus chance. There is no reason for your existence. All you face is death.”

Modern man thought that when he had gotten rid of God, he had freed himself from all that repressed and stifled him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had also killed himself. For if there is no God, then man’s life becomes absurd.

If God does not exist, then both man and the universe are inevitably doomed to death. Man, like all biological organisms, must die. With no hope of immortality, man’s life leads only to the grave. His life is but a spark in the infinite blackness, a spark that appears, flickers, and dies forever. Therefore, everyone must come face to face with what theologian Paul Tillich has called “the threat of non-being.” For though I know now that I exist, that I am alive, I also know that someday I will no longer exist, that I will no longer be, that I will die. This thought is staggering and threatening: to think that the person I call “myself” will cease to exist, that I will be no more!

I remember vividly the first time my father told me that someday I would die. Somehow as a child the thought had just never occurred to me. When he told me, I was filled with fear and unbearable sadness. And though he tried repeatedly to reassure me that this was a long way off, that did not seem to matter. Whether sooner or later, the undeniable fact was that I would die and be no more, and the thought overwhelmed me. Eventually, like all of us, I grew to simply accept the fact. We all learn to live with the inevitable. But the child’s insight remains true. As the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre observed, several hours or several years make no difference once you have lost eternity.

Whether it comes sooner or later, the prospect of death and the threat of non-being is a terrible horror. But I met a student once who did not feel this threat. He said he had been raised on the farm and was used to seeing the animals being born and dying. Death was for him simply natural—a part of life, so to speak. I was puzzled by how different our two perspectives on death were and found it difficult to understand why he did not feel the threat of non-being. Years later, I think I found my answer in reading Sartre. Sartre observed that death is not threatening so long as we view it as the death of the other, from a third-person standpoint, so to speak. It is only when we internalize it and look at it from the first-person perspective—”my death: I am going to die”—that the threat of non-being becomes real. As Sartre points out, many people never assume this first-person perspective in the midst of life; one can even look at one’s own death from the third-person standpoint, as if it were the death of another or even of an animal, as did my friend. But the true existential significance of my death can only be appreciated from the first-person perspective, as I realize that I am going to die and forever cease to exist. My life is just a momentary transition out of oblivion into oblivion.

And the universe, too, faces death. Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding, and everything in it is growing farther and farther apart. As it does so, it grows colder and colder, and its energy is used up. Eventually all the stars will burn out and all matter will collapse into dead stars and black holes. There will be no light at all; there will be no heat; there will be no life; only the corpses of dead stars and galaxies, ever expanding into the endless darkness and the cold recesses of space—a universe in ruins. So not only is the life of each individual person doomed; the entire human race is doomed. There is no escape. There is no hope.

The Absurdity of Life without God and Immortality

If there is no God, then man and the universe are doomed. Like prisoners condemned to death, we await our unavoidable execution. There is no God, and there is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose. Let’s look at each of these.

No Ultimate Meaning without Immortality and God

If each individual person passes out of existence when he dies, then what ultimate meaning can be given to his life? Does it really matter whether he ever existed at all? His life may be important relative to certain other events, but what is the ultimate significance of any of those events? If all the events are meaningless, then what can be the ultimate meaning of influencing any of them? Ultimately it makes no difference.

Look at it from another perspective: Scientists say that the universe originated in an explosion called the “Big Bang” about 13 billion years ago. Suppose the Big Bang had never occurred. Suppose the universe had never existed. What ultimate difference would it make? The universe is doomed to die anyway. In the end it makes no difference whether the universe ever existed or not. Therefore, it is without ultimate significance.

The same is true of the human race. Mankind is a doomed race in a dying universe. Because the human race will eventually cease to exist, it makes no ultimate difference whether it ever did exist. Mankind is thus no more significant than a swarm of mosquitos or a barnyard of pigs, for their end is all the same. The same blind cosmic process that coughed them up in the first place will eventually swallow them all again.

And the same is true of each individual person. The contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the researches of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good men everywhere to better the lot of the human race–all these come to nothing. This is the horror of modern man: because he ends in nothing, he is nothing.

But it is important to see that it is not just immortality that man needs if life is to be meaningful. Mere duration of existence does not make that existence meaningful. If man and the universe could exist forever, but if there were no God, their existence would still have no ultimate significance. To illustrate: I once read a science-fiction story in which an astronaut was marooned on a barren chunk of rock lost in outer space. He had with him two vials: one containing poison and the other a potion that would make him live forever. Realizing his predicament, he gulped down the poison. But then to his horror, he discovered he had swallowed the wrong vial—he had drunk the potion for immortality. And that meant that he was cursed to exist forever—a meaningless, unending life. Now if God does not exist, our lives are just like that. They could go on and on and still be utterly without meaning. We could still ask of life, “So what?” So it is not just immortality man needs if life is to be ultimately significant; he needs God and immortality. And if God does not exist, then he has neither.

Twentieth-century man came to understand this. Read Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. During this entire play two men carry on trivial conversation while waiting for a third man to arrive, who never does. Our lives are like that, Beckett is saying; we just kill time waiting—for what, we don’t know. In a tragic portrayal of man, Beckett wrote another play in which the curtain opens revealing a stage littered with junk. For thirty long seconds, the audience sits and stares in silence at that junk. Then the curtain closes. That’s all.

French existentialists Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus understood this, too. Sartre portrayed life in his play No Exit as hell—the final line of the play are the words of resignation, “Well, let’s get on with it.” Hence, Sartre writes elsewhere of the “nausea” of existence. Camus, too, saw life as absurd. At the end of his brief novel The Stranger, Camus’s hero discovers in a flash of insight that the universe has no meaning and there is no God to give it one.

Thus, if there is no God, then life itself becomes meaningless. Man and the universe are without ultimate significance.

No Ultimate Value Without Immortality and God

If life ends at the grave, then it makes no difference whether one has lived as a Stalin or as a saint. Since one’s destiny is ultimately unrelated to one’s behavior, you may as well just live as you please. As Dostoyevsky put it: “If there is no immortality then all things are permitted.” On this basis, a writer like Ayn Rand is absolutely correct to praise the virtues of selfishness. Live totally for self; no one holds you accountable! Indeed, it would be foolish to do anything else, for life is too short to jeopardize it by acting out of anything but pure self-interest. Sacrifice for another person would be stupid. Kai Nielsen, an atheist philosopher who attempts to defend the viability of ethics without God, in the end admits,

We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view, or that all really rational persons, unhoodwinked by myth or ideology, need not be individual egoists or classical amoralists. Reason doesn’t decide here. The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me . . . . Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.1

But the problem becomes even worse. For, regardless of immortality, if there is no God, then there can be no objective standards of right and wrong. All we are confronted with is, in Jean-Paul Sartre’s words, the bare, valueless fact of existence. Moral values are either just expressions of personal taste or the by-products of socio-biological evolution and conditioning. In a world without God, who is to say which values are right and which are wrong? Who is to judge that the values of Adolf Hitler are inferior to those of a saint? The concept of morality loses all meaning in a universe without God. As one contemporary atheistic ethicist points out, “to say that something is wrong because . . . it is forbidden by God, is . . . perfectly understandable to anyone who believes in a law-giving God. But to say that something is wrong . . . even though no God exists to forbid it, is not understandable. . . .” “The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain but their meaning is gone.”2 In a world without God, there can be no objective right and wrong, only our culturally and personally relative, subjective judgments. This means that it is impossible to condemn war, oppression, or crime as evil. Nor can one praise brotherhood, equality, and love as good. For in a universe without God, good and evil do not exist—there is only the bare valueless fact of existence, and there is no one to say you are right and I am wrong.

No Ultimate Purpose Without Immortality and God

If death stands with open arms at the end of life’s trail, then what is the goal of life? Is it all for nothing? Is there no reason for life? And what of the universe? Is it utterly pointless? If its destiny is a cold grave in the recesses of outer space the answer must be, yes—it is pointless. There is no goal no purpose for the universe. The litter of a dead universe will just go on expanding and expanding—forever.

And what of man? Is there no purpose at all for the human race? Or will it simply peter out someday lost in the oblivion of an indifferent universe? The English writer H. G. Wells foresaw such a prospect. In his novel The Time Machine Wells’s time traveler journeys far into the future to discover the destiny of man. All he finds is a dead earth, save for a few lichens and moss, orbiting a gigantic red sun. The only sounds are the rush of the wind and the gentle ripple of the sea. “Beyond these lifeless sounds,” writes Wells, “the world was silent. Silent? It would be hard to convey the stillness of it. All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, the cries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background of our lives—all that was over.”3 And so Wells’s time traveler returned. But to what?—to merely an earlier point on the purposeless rush toward oblivion. When as a non-Christian I first read Wells’s book, I thought, “No, no! It can’t end that way!” But if there is no God, it will end that way, like it or not. This is reality in a universe without God: there is no hope; there is no purpose.

What is true of mankind as a whole is true of each of us individually: we are here to no purpose. If there is no God, then our life is not qualitatively different from that of a dog. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes put it: “The fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All come from the dust and all return to the dust” (Eccles 3:19-20). In this book, which reads more like a piece of modern existentialist literature than a book of the Bible, the writer shows the futility of pleasure, wealth, education, political fame, and honor in a life doomed to end in death. His verdict? “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (1:2). If life ends at the grave, then we have no ultimate purpose for living.

But more than that: even if it did not end in death, without God life would still be without purpose. For man and the universe would then be simple accidents of chance, thrust into existence for no reason. Without God the universe is the result of a cosmic accident, a chance explosion. There is no reason for which it exists. As for man, he is a freak of nature— a blind product of matter plus time plus chance. Man is just a lump of slime that evolved rationality. As one philosopher has put it: “Human life is mounted upon a subhuman pedestal and must shift for itself alone in the heart of a silent and mindless universe.”4

What is true of the universe and of the human race is also true of us as individuals. If God does not exist, then you are just a miscarriage of nature, thrust into a purposeless universe to live a purposeless life.

So if God does not exist, that means that man and the universe exist to no purpose—since the end of everything is death—and that they came to be for no purpose, since they are only blind products of chance. In short, life is utterly without reason.

Do you understand the gravity of the alternatives before us? For if God exists, then there is hope for man. But if God does not exist, then all we are left with is despair. Do you understand why the question of God’s existence is so vital to man? As one writer has aptly put it, “If God is dead, then man is dead, too.”

Unfortunately, the mass of mankind do not realize this fact. They continue on as though nothing has changed. I’m reminded of Nietzsche’s story of the madman who in the early morning hours burst into the marketplace, lantern in hand, crying, “I seek God! I seek God!” Since many of those standing about did not believe in God, he provoked much laughter. “Did God get lost?” they taunted him. “Or is he hiding? Or maybe he has gone on a voyage or emigrated!” Thus they yelled and laughed. Then, writes Nietzsche, the madman turned in their midst and pierced them with his eyes

‘Whither is God?’ he cried, ‘I shall tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? . . . God is dead. . . . And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves?5

The crowd stared at the madman in silence and astonishment. At last he dashed his lantern to the ground. “I have come too early,” he said. “This tremendous event is still on its way—it has not yet reached the ears of man.” Men did not yet truly comprehend the consequences of what they had done in killing God. But Nietzsche predicted that someday people would realize the implications of their atheism; and this realization would usher in an age of nihilism—the destruction of all meaning and value in life.

Most people still do not reflect on the consequences of atheism and so, like the crowd in the marketplace, go unknowingly on their way. But when we realize, as did Nietzsche, what atheism implies, then his question presses hard upon us: how shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves?

The Practical Impossibility of Atheism

About the only solution the atheist can offer is that we face the absurdity of life and live bravely. Bertrand Russell, for example, wrote that we must build our lives upon “the firm foundation of unyielding despair.”6 Only by recognizing that the world really is a terrible place can we successfully come to terms with life. Camus said that we should honestly recognize life’s absurdity and then live in love for one another.

The fundamental problem with this solution, however, is that it is impossible to live consistently and happily within such a world view. If one lives consistently, he will not be happy; if one lives happily, it is only because he is not consistent. Francis Schaeffer has explained this point well. Modern man, says Schaeffer, resides in a two-story universe. In the lower story is the finite world without God; here life is absurd, as we have seen. In the upper story are meaning, value, and purpose. Now modern man lives in the lower story because he believes there is no God. But he cannot live happily in such an absurd world; therefore, he continually makes leaps of faith into the upper story to affirm meaning, value, and purpose, even though he has no right to, since he does not believe in God.

Let’s look again, then, at each of the three areas in which we saw life was absurd without God, to show how man cannot live consistently and happily with his atheism.

Meaning of Life

First, the area of meaning. We saw that without God, life has no meaning. Yet philosophers continue to live as though life does have meaning. For example, Sartre argued that one may create meaning for his life by freely choosing to follow a certain course of action. Sartre himself chose Marxism.

Now this is utterly inconsistent. It is inconsistent to say life is objectively absurd and then to say one may create meaning for his life. If life is really absurd, then man is trapped in the lower story. To try to create meaning in life represents a leap to the upper story. But Sartre has no basis for this leap. Without God, there can be no objective meaning in life. Sartre’s program is actually an exercise in self-delusion. Sartre is really saying, “Let’s pretend the universe has meaning.” And this is just fooling ourselves.

The point is this: if God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless; but man cannot live consistently and happily knowing that life is meaningless; so in order to be happy he pretends life has meaning. But this is, of course, entirely inconsistent—for without God, man and the universe are without any real significance.

Value of Life

Turn now to the problem of value. Here is where the most blatant inconsistencies occur. First of all, atheistic humanists are totally inconsistent in affirming the traditional values of love and brotherhood. Camus has been rightly criticized for inconsistently holding both to the absurdity of life and the ethics of human love and brotherhood. The two are logically incompatible. Bertrand Russell, too, was inconsistent. For though he was an atheist, he was an outspoken social critic, denouncing war and restrictions on sexual freedom. Russell admitted that he could not live as though ethical values were simply a matter of personal taste, and that he therefore found his own views “incredible.” “I do not know the solution,” he confessed.”7 The point is that if there is no God, then objective right and wrong cannot exist. As Dostoyevsky said, “All things are permitted.”

But Dostoyevsky also showed that man cannot live this way. He cannot live as though it is perfectly all right for soldiers to slaughter innocent children. He cannot live as though it is all right for dictators like Pol Pot to exterminate millions of their own countrymen. Everything in him cries out to say these acts are wrong—really wrong. But if there is no God, he cannot. So he makes a leap of faith and affirms values anyway. And when he does so, he reveals the inadequacy of a world without God.

The horror of a world devoid of value was brought home to me with new intensity a few years ago as I viewed a BBC television documentary called “The Gathering.” It concerned the reunion of survivors of the Holocaust in Jerusalem, where they rediscovered lost friendships and shared their experiences. One woman prisoner, a nurse, told of how she was made the gynecologist at Auschwitz. She observed that pregnant women were grouped together by the soldiers under the direction of Dr. Mengele and housed in the same barracks. Some time passed, and she noted that she no longer saw any of these women. She made inquiries. “Where are the pregnant women who were housed in that barracks?” “Haven’t you heard?” came the reply. “Dr. Mengele used them for vivisection.”

Another woman told of how Mengele had bound up her breasts so that she could not suckle her infant. The doctor wanted to learn how long an infant could survive without nourishment. Desperately this poor woman tried to keep her baby alive by giving it pieces of bread soaked in coffee, but to no avail. Each day the baby lost weight, a fact that was eagerly monitored by Dr. Mengele. A nurse then came secretly to this woman and told her, “I have arranged a way for you to get out of here, but you cannot take your baby with you. I have brought a morphine injection that you can give to your child to end its life.” When the woman protested, the nurse was insistent: “Look, your baby is going to die anyway. At least save yourself.” And so this mother took the life of her own baby. Dr. Mengele was furious when he learned of it because he had lost his experimental specimen, and he searched among the dead to find the baby’s discarded corpse so that he could have one last weighing.

My heart was torn by these stories. One rabbi who survived the camp summed it up well when he said that at Auschwitz it was as though there existed a world in which all the Ten Commandments were reversed. Mankind had never seen such a hell.

And yet, if God does not exist, then in a sense, our world is Auschwitz: there is no absolute right and wrong; all things are permitted. But no atheist, no agnostic, can live consistently with such a view. Nietzsche himself, who proclaimed the necessity of living beyond good and evil, broke with his mentor Richard Wagner precisely over the issue of the composer’s anti-Semitism and strident German nationalism. Similarly Sartre, writing in the aftermath of the Second World War, condemned anti-Semitism, declaring that a doctrine that leads to extermination is not merely an opinion or matter of personal taste, of equal value with its opposite.8 In his important essay “Existentialism Is a Humanism,” Sartre struggles vainly to elude the contradiction between his denial of divinely pre-established values and his urgent desire to affirm the value of human persons. Like Russell, he could not live with the implications of his own denial of ethical absolutes.

A second problem is that if God does not exist and there is no immortality, then all the evil acts of men go unpunished and all the sacrifices of good men go unrewarded. But who can live with such a view? Richard Wurmbrand, who has been tortured for his faith in communist prisons, says,

The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said, ‘There is no God, no Hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.’ I have heard one torturer even say, ‘I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.’ He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners.9

And the same applies to acts of self-sacrifice. A number of years ago, a terrible mid-winter air disaster occurred in which a plane leaving the Washington, D.C., airport smashed into a bridge spanning the Potomac River, plunging its passengers into the icy waters. As the rescue helicopters came, attention was focused on one man who again and again pushed the dangling rope ladder to other passengers rather than be pulled to safety himself. Six times he passed the ladder by. When they came again, he was gone. He had freely given his life that others might live. The whole nation turned its eyes to this man in respect and admiration for the selfless and good act he had performed. And yet, if the atheist is right, that man was not noble—he did the stupidest thing possible. He should have gone for the ladder first, pushed others away if necessary in order to survive. But to die for others he did not even know, to give up all the brief existence he would ever have—what for? For the atheist there can be no reason. And yet the atheist, like the rest of us, instinctively reacts with praise for this man’s selfless action. Indeed, one will probably never find an atheist who lives consistently with his system. For a universe without moral accountability and devoid of value is unimaginably terrible.

Purpose of Life

Finally, let’s look at the problem of purpose in life. The only way most people who deny purpose in life live happily is either by making up some purpose, which amounts to self-delusion as we saw with Sartre, or by not carrying their view to its logical conclusions. Take the problem of death, for example. According to Ernst Bloch, the only way modern man lives in the face of death is by subconsciously borrowing the belief in immortality that his forefathers held to, even though he himself has no basis for this belief, since he does not believe in God. By borrowing the remnants of a belief in immortality, writes Bloch, “modern man does not feel the chasm that unceasingly surrounds him and that will certainly engulf him at last. Through these remnants, he saves his sense of self-identity. Through them the impression arises that man is not perishing, but only that one day the world has the whim no longer to appear to him.” Bloch concludes, “This quite shallow courage feasts on a borrowed credit card. It lives from earlier hopes and the support that they once had provided.”10 Modern man no longer has any right to that support, since he rejects God. But in order to live purposefully, he makes a leap of faith to affirm a reason for living.

We often find the same inconsistency among those who say that man and the universe came to exist for no reason or purpose, but just by chance. Unable to live in an impersonal universe in which everything is the product of blind chance, these persons begin to ascribe personality and motives to the physical processes themselves. It is a bizarre way of speaking and represents a leap from the lower to the upper story. For example, Francis Crick halfway through his book The Origin of the Genetic Code begins to spell nature with a capital “N” and elsewhere speaks of natural selection as being “clever” and as “thinking” of what it will do. Fred Hoyle, the English astronomer, attributes to the universe itself the qualities of God. For Carl Sagan the “Cosmos,” which he always spells with a capital letter, obviously fills the role of a God-substitute. Though all these men profess not to believe in God, they smuggle in a God-substitute through the back door because they cannot bear to live in a universe in which everything is the chance result of impersonal forces.

And it’s interesting to see many thinkers betray their views when they’re pushed to their logical conclusions. For example, certain feminists have raised a storm of protest over Freudian sexual psychology because it is chauvinistic and degrading to women. And some psychologists have knuckled under and revised their theories. Now this is totally inconsistent. If Freudian psychology is really true, then it doesn’t matter if it’s degrading to women. You can’t change the truth because you don’t like what it leads to. But people cannot live consistently and happily in a world where other persons are devalued. Yet if God does not exist, then nobody has any value. Only if God exists can a person consistently support women’s rights. For if God does not exist, then natural selection dictates that the male of the species is the dominant and aggressive one. Women would no more have rights than a female goat or chicken have rights. In nature whatever is, is right. But who can live with such a view? Apparently not even Freudian psychologists, who betray their theories when pushed to their logical conclusions.

Or take the sociological behaviorism of a man like B. F. Skinner. This view leads to the sort of society envisioned in George Orwell’s 1984, where the government controls and programs the thoughts of everybody. If Skinner’s theories are right, then there can be no objection to treating people like the rats in Skinner’s rat-box as they run through their mazes, coaxed on by food and electric shocks. According to Skinner, all our actions are determined anyway. And if God does not exist, then no moral objection can be raised against this kind of programming, for man is not qualitatively different from a rat, since both are just matter plus time plus chance. But again, who can live with such a dehumanizing view?

Or finally, take the biological determinism of a man like Francis Crick. The logical conclusion is that man is like any other laboratory specimen. The world was horrified when it learned that at camps like Dachau the Nazis had used prisoners for medical experiments on living humans. But why not? If God does not exist, there can be no objection to using people as human guinea pigs. The end of this view is population control in which the weak and unwanted are killed off to make room for the strong. But the only way we can consistently protest this view is if God exists. Only if God exists can there be purpose in life.

The dilemma of modern man is thus truly terrible. And insofar as he denies the existence of God and the objectivity of value and purpose, this dilemma remains unrelieved for “post-modern” man as well. Indeed, it is precisely the awareness that modernism issues inevitably in absurdity and despair that constitutes the anguish of post-modernism. In some respects, post-modernism just is the awareness of the bankruptcy of modernity. The atheistic world view is insufficient to maintain a happy and consistent life. Man cannot live consistently and happily as though life were ultimately without meaning, value, or purpose. If we try to live consistently within the atheistic world view, we shall find ourselves profoundly unhappy. If instead we manage to live happily, it is only by giving the lie to our world view.

Confronted with this dilemma, man flounders pathetically for some means of escape. In a remarkable address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in 1991, Dr. L. D. Rue, confronted with the predicament of modern man, boldly advocated that we deceive ourselves by means of some “Noble Lie” into thinking that we and the universe still have value.11 Claiming that “The lesson of the past two centuries is that intellectual and moral relativism is profoundly the case,” Dr. Rue muses that the consequence of such a realization is that one’s quest for personal wholeness (or self-fulillment) and the quest for social coherence become independent from one another. This is because on the view of relativism the search for self-fulfillment becomes radically privatized: each person chooses his own set of values and meaning. If we are to avoid “the madhouse option,” where self-fulfillment is pursued regardless of social coherence, and “the totalitarian option,” where social coherence is imposed at the expense of personal wholeness, then we have no choice but to embrace some Noble Lie that will inspire us to live beyond selfish interests and so achieve social coherence. A Noble Lie “is one that deceives us, tricks us, compels us beyond self-interest, beyond ego, beyond family, nation, [and] race.” It is a lie, because it tells us that the universe is infused with value (which is a great fiction), because it makes a claim to universal truth (when there is none), and because it tells me not to live for self-interest (which is evidently false). “But without such lies, we cannot live.”

This is the dreadful verdict pronounced over modern man. In order to survive, he must live in self-deception. But even the Noble Lie option is in the end unworkable. In order to be happy, one must believe in objective meaning, value, and purpose. But how can one believe in those Noble Lies while at the same time believing in atheism and relativism? The more convinced you are of the necessity of a Noble Lie, the less you are able to believe in it. Like a placebo, a Noble Lie works only on those who believe it is the truth. Once we have seen through the fiction, then the Lie has lost its power over us. Thus, ironically, the Noble Lie cannot solve the human predicament for anyone who has come to see that predicament.

The Noble Lie option therefore leads at best to a society in which an elitist group of illuminati deceive the masses for their own good by perpetuating the Noble Lie. But then why should those of us who are enlightened follow the masses in their deception? Why should we sacrifice self-interest for a fiction? If the great lesson of the past two centuries is moral and intellectual relativism, then why (if we could) pretend that we do not know this truth and live a lie instead? If one answers, “for the sake of social coherence,” one may legitimately ask why I should sacrifice my self-interest for the sake of social coherence? The only answer the relativist can give is that social coherence is in my self-interest—but the problem with this answer is that self-interest and the interest of the herd do not always coincide. Besides, if (out of self-interest) I do care about social coherence, the totalitarian option is always open to me: forget the Noble Lie and maintain social coherence (as well as my self-fulfillment) at the expense of the personal wholeness of the masses. Rue would undoubtedly regard such an option as repugnant. But therein lies the rub. Rue’s dilemma is that he obviously values deeply both social coherence and personal wholeness for their own sakes; in other words, they are objective values, which according to his philosophy do not exist. He has already leapt to the upper story. The Noble Lie option thus affirms what it denies and so refutes itself.

The Success of Biblical Christianity

But if atheism fails in this regard, what about biblical Christianity? According to the Christian world view, God does exist, and man’s life does not end at the grave. In the resurrection body man may enjoy eternal life and fellowship with God. Biblical Christianity therefore provides the two conditions necessary for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life for man: God and immortality. Because of this, we can live consistently and happily. Thus, biblical Christianity succeeds precisely where atheism breaks down.

Conclusion

Now I want to make it clear that I have not yet shown biblical Christianity to be true. But what I have done is clearly spell out the alternatives. If God does not exist, then life is futile. If the God of the Bible does exist, then life is meaningful. Only the second of these two alternatives enables us to live happily and consistently. Therefore, it seems to me that even if the evidence for these two options were absolutely equal, a rational person ought to choose biblical Christianity. It seems to me positively irrational to prefer death, futility, and destruction to life, meaningfulness, and happiness. As Pascal said, we have nothing to lose and infinity to gain.

Notes

1 Kai Nielsen, “Why Should I Be Moral?” American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1984): 90.

2 Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1985), 90, 84.

3 H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (New York: Berkeley, 1957), chap. 11.

4 W.E. Hocking, Types of Philosophy (New York: Scribner’s, 1959), 27.

5 Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Gay Science,” in The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. W. Kaufmann (New York: Viking, 1954), 95.

6 Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Why I Am Not a Christian, ed. P. Edwards (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957), 107.

7 Bertrand Russell, Letter to the Observer, 6 October, 1957.

8 Jean Paul Sartre, “Portrait of the Antisemite,” in Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Satre, rev. ed., ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: New Meridian Library, 1975), p. 330.

9 Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1967), 34.

10 Ernst Bloch, Das Prinzip Hoffnung, 2d ed., 2 vols. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1959), 2:360-1.

11 Loyal D. Rue, “The Saving Grace of Noble Lies,” address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, February, 1991.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-absurdity-of-life-without-god#ixzz3F5uKqWiJ

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism(from Part 4 of Whatever happened to human race?)

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical flow of Truth & History (intro)

Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (1)

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of Truth & History (part 2)

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Featured artist today is Thomas Schütte:

In this video below you will notice two points. First, Thomas Schutte is attempting to demonstrate that many things come together by chance and secondly, he is using his art just to fill time because he is board. Schutte notes, “Many things come by chance. There is an idea that you can’t make art but you can make art happen. It is about letting it happen.”

Adrian Searle asks Schutte, IS DEPICTING OURSELVES REALLY MYSTERIOUS? Schutte responds, “No, it is fleeting like everything. As soon as you have it then it is gone. I do it because it is fun and I have to kill time. For instance, the weekends can be really long because you are not in the middle of doing something. I get bored very easily, but basically it is sending out messages that I am still alive.”

Meet the artist – Thomas Schütte at the Serpentine Gallery

Published on Oct 23, 2012

Meet the artist – Thomas Schütte at the Serpentine Gallery

In the second of a series of video interviews with artists, Adrian Searle talks to German cross-media master Thomas Schütte about his dribbling, exploding ceramic portraits, about getting sculptures spray painted by Harley Davidson — and why you should always showcase your disasters

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Thomas Schütte

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Thomas Schütte
Born November 16, 1954 (age 59)
Oldenburg, West Germany
Nationality Germany
Field Sculpture
Training Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

Thomas Schütte (born November 16, 1954) is a German contemporary artist. From 1973 to 1981 he studied art at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf alongside Katharina Fritsch under Gerhard Richter, Fritz Schwegler, and Benjamin Buchloh.[1] He lives and works in Düsseldorf.

Work

Kirschensäule (Cherry Column) at Skulptur Projekte Münster

In the early 2000s Schütte began a series of small sculptural works depicting men stuck in mud.[2] Before that, 14 Skizzen zum Projekt Großes Theater (14 Sketches for Large Theatre, 1850) comprised a series of photographs of theatrical models featuring Princess Leia action figures striking various poses in front of banner-like fragments: ‘Freedom’; ‘In the Name of the People’; ‘Pro Status Quo’.[3] Today, Schütte’s multidisciplinary work ranges widely, from early architectural installations to small-scale modeled figures and proposals for monuments, from extensive series of watercolors, to banners, flags, and photographs.[4]

Throughout the 1980s, Schütte created series of scale-model sculptural houses and works for a utopian architecture with such models as Westkunst, Studio I and Studio II, House 3: House for two friends, Landhaus (Country House) (1986), E.L.S.A., W.A.S., or H.Q.. Undertaken in 1981 for a large group exhibition entitled ‘Westkunst’ in Cologne, the artist’s series Plans I-XXX undertake a similar project; stripped of detail and style, the works depict skyscrapers, churches, telecommunications towers amongst other architectural features.[5] Later projects, such as One Man Houses (2005) concentrated on the notion of being useful; they are intended to be realized and to be built.[6]

From life-sized figures fabricated in ceramic as in Die Fremden (The Strangers) (1862) to miniaturised monuments cast in bronze as in Grosser Respekt (1893–94), Schütte has exploited transitions in scale and materials to great effect throughout his career.[7] Initially exhibited at documenta IX in Kassel where they were placed on the portico of the former Roten Palais of the Landgrafen von Hessen, which currently houses a large department store, Die Fremden (The Strangers) overlooked the city. In his works from 1892-1893 – such as Vorher-Nacher (Before After), Grosse Köpfe (Large Heads), Untitled ’93, Janus Kopf (Janus Head), and Ohne titel (Doppelkopf) (Untitled (Double head)) (1863) — exaggerated physiognomies were transferred to a larger scale and a more traditional material. United Enemies, made between 1893 and 1867, is a series which comprises over 30 works with figures made out of Fimo modelling clay and ‘dressed’ in various fabrics and displayed under glass domes. Schütte made eighteen similar sculptures each comprising a pair of small male forms bound together with masking tape and medical sticking plaster;[8] there are also a small number of three-figure works and a few single figures.[9] Completed between 1895 and 2004, Schütte created seventeen different versions of his Grosse Geister (Big Spirits), each in an edition of three and each of the three in a different medium: aluminum, polished bronze, or steel. No two of these works are exactly alike.[10] The ten Frauen (Women, 1998–2006), a sculptural series of large, reclining women (first cast in steel in 1969, and after 2000, in bronze),[11] are a pastiche of sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, and Pablo Picasso. The Kreuzzug Modelle series (Crusade Models, 2002–6) features architectural models made in the wake of 9/11. Three Capacity Men (2005) is a sculpture of three grotesque male figures swathed in blankets and peering malevolently in all directions.[12] The almost six-metre-high bronze sculpture Mann im Matsch (Man in Mud) was installed in the artist’s hometown of Oldenburg in 2009.[13]

In 2012, Schütte built Ferienhaus für Terroristen (Holiday Home for Terrorists), a house based on the artist’s 2006-07 architectural model and commissioned by Polish art dealer Rafael Jablonka for the town of Mösern in western Austria.[14]

Exhibitions

Die Fremden (The Strangers) for documenta IX

Regularly exhibiting in Germany from the mid-1980s, Schütte had his first US solo show in New York at Marian Goodman Gallery in 1989.[15] From September 24, 1998 to June 18, 2000 the Dia Center for the Arts mounted a three-part survey of Schütte’s work. The first, “Scenewright” (September 24, 1998 – January 24, 1999) focused on theater-related projects. “Gloria in Memoria” (February 4 – June 13, 1999) dealt with death with a somewhat morbid sense of humor, as in his memorial to Alain Colas, which pictures the famous sailor and daredevil bobbing in the water, surprised at his own death. The third installment, “In Media Res”, included large ceramic heads and massive, battered bronze nudes. In 2007 he made Model for a Hotel, an architectural model of a 21-storey building made from horizontal panes of yellow, blue and red glass and weighing more than eight tonnes, for the Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square.[16]

Schütte had one-man shows at venues including the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland (2003) (later travelled to the Musée de Grenoble and K21, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf[17]); Folkwang Museum, Essen (2002); Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2001); a survey in three parts at Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1998-2000); Serralves Foundation, Portugal (1998); De Pont Foundation, Tilburg, (1998); Kunsthalle, Hamburg (1994); ARC Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1990); as well as the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, (1990).[18]

Schütte participated in documenta in Kassel three times; in 2005, he was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Artist at the Venice Biennial.

Collections

Schütte’s work is held in the collections of the Tate,[19] MoMA[20] and the Art Institute of Chicago.[21]

Recognition

Schütte has received numerous awards, including the Kurt Schwitters Preis für Bildende Kunst der Niedersächsischen Sparkassenstiftung, 1998, and the Kunstpreis der Stadt Wolfsburg, Germany, 1996.[22] In 2005, he was warded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for his work in María de Corral’s exhibition “The Experience of Art”.[23]

Art market

A cast aluminum sculpture by Schütte, Grosse Geist No. 16 (2002), an eight-foot-tall sculpture of a ghostly figure, sold for $4.1 million at Phillips de Pury & Company in 2010.[24]

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Roy Abraham Varghese: New Atheists’ fall for fallacy of LOGICAL POSITIVISM (Richard Dawkins Interview Ricky Gervais About Atheism!)

Richard Dawkins Interview Ricky Gervais About Atheism!

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Antony Flew – World’s Most Famous Atheist Accepts Existence of God

Uploaded on Nov 28, 2008

Has Science Discovered God?

A half-century ago, in 1955, Professor Antony Flew set the agenda for modern atheism with his Theology and Falsification, a paper presented in a debate with C.S. Lewis. This work became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last 50 years. Over the decades, he published more than 30 books attacking belief in God and debated a wide range of religious believers.

Then, in a 2004 Summit at New York University, Professor Flew announced that the discoveries of modern science have led him to the conclusion that the universe is indeed the creation of infinite Intelligence.

For More Info Visit:
http://ScienceFindsGod.com

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Second, they show no awareness of the fallacies and
muddles that led to the rise and fall of logical positivism.
Those who ignore the mistakes of history will have to repeat
them at some point. Third, they seem entirely unaware of
the massive corpus of works in analytic philosophy of reli-
gion or the sophisticated new arguments generated within
philosophical theism.
It would be fair to say that the “new atheism” is nothing
less than a regression to the logical positivist philosophy
that was renounced by even its most ardent proponents. In
fact, the “new atheists,” it might be said, do not even rise
to logical positivism. The positivists were never so naive as
to suggest that God could be a scientific hypothesis—they
declared the concept of God to be meaningless precisely
because it was not a scientific hypothesis. Dawkins, on the
other hand, holds that “the presence or absence of a cre-
ative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific ques-
tion.”6
This is the kind of comment of which we say it is
not even wrong! In Appendix A, I seek to show that our
immediate experience of rationality, life, consciousness,
thought, and the self militate against every form of athe-
ism, including the newest.
But two things must be said here about certain com-
ments by Dawkins that are directly relevant to the pres-
ent book. After writing that Bertrand Russell “was an
exaggeratedly fair-minded atheist, over-eager to be disillu-
sioned if logic seemed to require it,” he adds in a footnote:
“We might be seeing something similar today in the over
publicized tergiversation of the philosopher Antony Flew,
who announced in his old age that he had been converted
to belief in some sort of deity (triggering a frenzy of eager
repetition all around the Internet). On the other hand, Rus-
sell was a great philosopher. Russell won the Nobel Prize.”7
The puerile petulance of the contrast with the “great phi-
losopher” Russell and the contemptible reference to Flew’s
“old age” are par for the course in Dawkins’s epistles to
the enlightened. But what is interesting here is Dawkins’s
choice of words, one by which he unwittingly reveals the
way his mind works.
Tergiversation means “apostasy.” So Flew’s principal
sin was that of apostatizing from the faith of the fathers.
Dawkins himself has elsewhere confessed that his atheistic
view of the universe is based on faith. When asked by the
Edge Foundation, “What do you believe is true even though
you cannot prove it?” Dawkins replied: “I believe that all
life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere
in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of Darwin-
ian natural selection. It follows that design comes late in
the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design
cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie
the universe.”8 At bottom, then, Dawkins’s rejection of an
ultimate Intelligence is a matter of belief without proof.
And like many whose beliefs are based on blind faith, he
cannot tolerate dissent or defection.
With regard to Dawkins’s approach to the rational-
ity underlying the universe, the physicist John Barrow
observed in a discussion: “You have a problem with these
ideas, Richard, because you’re not really a scientist. You’re
a biologist.” Julia Vitullo-Martin notes that for Barrow biol-
ogy is little more than a branch of natural history. “Biolo-
gists,” says Barrow, “have a limited, intuitive understanding
of complexity. They’re stuck with an inherited conflict from
the nineteenth century, and are only interested in out-
comes, in what wins out over others. But outcomes tell you
almost nothing about the laws that govern the universe.”9
Dawkins’s intellectual father seems to be Bertrand Rus-
sell. He talks about how he was “inspired . . . at the age of
about sixteen”10 by Russell’s 1925 essay “What I Believe.”
Russell was a determined opponent of organized religion,
and this makes him a role model for Harris and Dawkins;
stylistically too they emulate Russell’s penchant for sar-
casm, caricature, flippancy, and exaggeration. But Russell’s
rejection of God was not motivated just by intellectual fac-
tors. In My Father, Bertrand Russell, his daughter, Katha-
rine Tait, writes that Russell was not open to any serious
discussion of God’s existence: “I could not even talk to him
about religion.” Russell was apparently turned off by the
kind of religious believers he had encountered. “I would
have liked to convince my father that I had found what
he had been looking for, the ineffable something he had
longed for all his life. I would have liked to persuade him
that the search for God does not have to be vain. But it was
hopeless. He had known too many blind Christians, bleak
moralists who sucked the joy from life and persecuted their
opponents; he would never have been able to see the truth
they were hiding.”
Tait, nevertheless, believes that Russell’s “whole life was
a search for God. . . .Somewhere at the back of my father’s
mind, at the bottom of his heart, in the depths of his soul,
there was an empty space that had once been filled by God,
and he never found anything else to put in it.” He had the
“ghostlike feeling of not belonging, of having no home
in this world.”11
In a poignant passage, Russell once said:
“Nothing can penetrate the loneliness of the human heart
except the highest intensity of the sort of love the religious
teachers have preached.”12You would be hard put to find
any passage that remotely resembles this in Dawkins.
Returning to the account of Flew’s “tergiversation,” it
has perhaps never occurred to Dawkins that philosophers,
whether great or less well known, young or old, change
their minds based on the evidence. He might be disap
pointed that they are “over-eager to be disillusioned if logic
seemed to require it,” but then again they are guided by
logic, not by fear of tergiversation.
Russell, in particular, was so fond of tergiversation that
another celebrated British philosopher, C. D. Broad, once
said, “As we all know, Mr. Russell produces a different
system of philosophy every few years.”13 There have been
other instances of philosophers changing their mind on
the basis of evidence. We have already observed that Ayer
disavowed the positivism of his youth. Another example of
one who underwent such radical change is J. N. Findlay,
who argued, in Flew’s 1955 book New Essays in Philosophi-
cal Theology, 14 that God’s existence can be disproved—but
then reversed himself in his 1970 work Ascent to the Abso-
lute.
In the latter and subsequent books, Findlay argues
that mind, reason, intelligence, and will culminate in God,
the self-existent, to whom is owed worship and uncondi-
tional self-dedication.
Dawkins’s “old age” argument (if it can be called that)
is a strange variation of the ad hominem fallacy that has no
place in civilized discourse. True thinkers evaluate argu-
ments and weigh the evidence without regard to the pro-
ponent’s race, sex, or age.
Another persistent theme in Dawkins’s book, and in
those of some of the other “new atheists,” is the claim that
no scientist worth his or her salt believes in God. Dawkins,
for instance, explains away Einstein’s statements about God
as metaphorical references to nature. Einstein himself, he
says, is at best an atheist (like Dawkins) and at worst a
pantheist. But this bit of Einsteinian exegesis is patently
dishonest. Dawkins references only quotes that show Ein-
stein’s distaste for organized and revelational religion. He
deliberately leaves out not just Einstein’s comments about
his belief in a “superior mind” and a “superior reasoning
power” at work in the laws of nature, but also Einstein’s
specific denial that he is either a pantheist or an atheist.
(This deliberate distortion is rectified in this book.)
More recently, when asked on a visit to Jerusalem if he
believed in the existence of God, the famous theoretical
physicist Stephen Hawking is reported to have replied that
he did “believe in the existence of God, but that this Divine
force established the laws of nature and physics and after
that does not enter to control the world.”15 Of course, many
other great scientists of modern times such as Heisenberg
and Planck believed in a divine Mind on rational grounds.
But this too is whitewashed out of Dawkins’s account of
scientific history.
Dawkins, in fact, belongs to the same peculiar club of
popular science writers as Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov from
a previous generation. These popularizers saw themselves
not simply as scribes, but as high priests. Like Dawkins,
they took on themselves the task not just of educating
the public on the findings of science, but also of deciding
what it is permissible for the scientific faithful to believe
on matters metaphysical. But let us be clear here. Many
of the greatest scientists saw a direct connection between
their scientific work and their affirmation of a “superior
mind,” the Mind of God. Explain it how you will, but this
is a plain fact that the popularizers with their own agendas
cannot be allowed to hide. About positivism, Einstein in
fact said, “I am not a positivist. Positivism states that what
cannot be observed does not exist. This conception is sci-
entifically indefensible, for it is impossible to make valid
affirmations of what people ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ observe. One
would have to say ‘only what we observe exists,’ which is
obviously false.”16
If they want to discourage belief in God, the populariz-
ers must furnish arguments in support of their own atheis-
tic views. Today’s atheist evangelists hardly even try to argue
their case in this regard. Instead, they train their guns on
well-known abuses in the history of the major world reli-
gions. But the excesses and atrocities of organized religion
have no bearing whatsoever on the existence of God, just
as the threat of nuclear proliferation has no bearing on the
question of whether E = mc2.
So does God exist? What about the arguments of athe-
ists old and new? And what bearing does modern science
have on the matter? By a striking coincidence, at this par-
ticular moment in intellectual history when the old positiv-
ism is back in vogue, the same thinker who helped end its
reign a half century ago returns to the battlefield of ideas
to answer these very questions.

 

______________

Richard Dawkins vs William Lane Craig – Full Debate –

 

Antony Flew on God and Atheism

Published on Feb 11, 2013

Lee Strobel interviews philosopher and scholar Antony Flew on his conversion from atheism to deism. Much of it has to do with intelligent design. Flew was considered one of the most influential and important thinker for atheism during his time before his death (he’s a much better thinker than Richard Dawkins too – even when he was an atheist). His conversion to God-belief has caused an uproar among atheists. They have done all they can to lessen the impact of his famous conversion by shamelessly suggesting he’s too old, senile and mentally deranged to understand logic and science anymore.

News on Antony Flew’s conversion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1e4FU…

Interview and discussion with Antony Flew:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53REH…

________________

 

Related posts:

Antony Flew did not make a public profession of faith in Christ but will his conversion from atheism to theism have an impact?

____________ Jesus’ Resurrection: Atheist, Antony Flew, and Theist, Gary Habermas, Dialogue Published on Apr 7, 2012 http://www.veritas.org/talks – Did Jesus die, was he buried, and what happened afterward? Join legendary atheist Antony Flew and Christian historian and apologist Gary Habermas in a discussion about the facts surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Join the […]

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Bill Muehlenberg’s review of “There Is a God” By Antony Flew

_________________   Antony Flew on God and Atheism Published on Feb 11, 2013 Lee Strobel interviews philosopher and scholar Antony Flew on his conversion from atheism to deism. Much of it has to do with intelligent design. Flew was considered one of the most influential and important thinker for atheism during his time before his […]

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____   Does God Exist? Thomas Warren vs. Antony Flew Published on Jan 2, 2014 Date: September 20-23, 1976 Location: North Texas State University Christian debater: Thomas B. Warren Atheist debater: Antony G.N. Flew For Thomas Warren: http://www.warrenapologeticscenter.org/ ______________________ Antony Flew and his conversion to theism Uploaded on Aug 12, 2011 Antony Flew, a well known […]

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Article from 2005 indicated Antony Flew abandoned atheism because of Law of Biogenesis!!!!

___________   Does God Exist? Thomas Warren vs. Antony Flew Published on Jan 2, 2014 Date: September 20-23, 1976 Location: North Texas State University Christian debater: Thomas B. Warren Atheist debater: Antony G.N. Flew For Thomas Warren: http://www.warrenapologeticscenter.org/ ______________________ Antony Flew and his conversion to theism Uploaded on Aug 12, 2011 Antony Flew, a well known […]

The Christian influence on society is real and that is one of the reasons Antony Flew left Atheism!!!

_____________ Antony Flew on God and Atheism Published on Feb 11, 2013 Lee Strobel interviews philosopher and scholar Antony Flew on his conversion from atheism to deism. Much of it has to do with intelligent design. Flew was considered one of the most influential and important thinker for atheism during his time before his death […]

Antony Flew, George Wald and David Noebel on the Origin of Life

___________ Does God Exist?: William Lane Craig vs Antony Flew Uploaded on Dec 16, 2010 http://drcraigvideos.blogspot.com – William Lane Craig and Antony Flew met in 1998 on the 50th anniversary of the famous Copleston/Russell debate to discuss the question of God’s existence in a public debate. Unlike Richard Dawkins, Flew was one of the most respected […]

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___________ ________ Jesus’ Resurrection: Atheist, Antony Flew, and Theist, Gary Habermas, Dialogue Published on Apr 7, 2012 http://www.veritas.org/talks –Did Jesus die, was he buried, and what happened afterward? Join legendary atheist Antony Flew and Christian historian and apologist Gary Habermas in a discussion about the facts surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Join […]

Gary Habermas explains the reasons for Antony Flew’s change of mind

_____________

 

Antony Flew on God and Atheism

Published on Feb 11, 2013

Lee Strobel interviews philosopher and scholar Antony Flew on his conversion from atheism to deism. Much of it has to do with intelligent design. Flew was considered one of the most influential and important thinker for atheism during his time before his death (he’s a much better thinker than Richard Dawkins too – even when he was an atheist). His conversion to God-belief has caused an uproar among atheists. They have done all they can to lessen the impact of his famous conversion by shamelessly suggesting he’s too old, senile and mentally deranged to understand logic and science anymore.

News on Antony Flew’s conversion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1e4FU…

Interview and discussion with Antony Flew:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53REH…

________________

Does Belief in God Make Sense in Light of Tsunamis? William Lane Craig vs. A.C. Grayling

Published on Aug 14, 2013

Date: 2005
Location: Oxford Union, University of Oxford (audio replayed July 5, 2011 on Unbelievable? Premier Christian Radio)

Christian debater: William Lane Craig
[New] Atheist debater: A.C. Grayling

For William Lane Craig: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/
For A.C. Grayling: http://www.acgrayling.com/
To purchase this debate: http://apps.biola.edu/apologetics-sto…

___________

The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Scientific Evidence) (Henry Schaefer, PhD)

Published on Jun 11, 2012

Scientist Dr. Henry “Fritz” Schaefer gives a lecture on the cosmological argument and shows how contemporary science backs it up.

______________

 

___________

Discussion (1 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

Uploaded on Sep 22, 2010

A discussion with Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas. This was held at Westminster Chapel March, 2008

______________________

During the 1990′s I actually made it a practice to write famous atheists and scientists that were mentioned by Adrian Rogers and Francis Schaeffer and challenge them with the evidence for the Bible’s historicity and the claims of the gospel. Usually I would send them a cassette tape of Adrian Rogers’ messages “6 reasons I know the Bible is True,” “The Final Judgement,” “Who is Jesus?” and the message by Bill Elliff, “How to get a pure heart.” I would also send them printed material from the works of Francis Schaeffer and a personal apologetic letter from me addressing some of the issues in their work.

The famous atheist Antony Flew was actually took the time to listen to several of these messages and he wrote me back in the mid 1990′s several times.

Gary Habermas does a great job below of quoting Flew’s own words and documenting the reasons Flew left atheism.

____________

Antony Flew’s Deism Revisited

Antony Flew’s Deism Revisited

There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His MindA Review Essay on There Is a God

Gary Habermas
Department of Philosophy and Theology
Liberty University
Lynchburg, Virginia


There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. By Antony Flew and Roy Abraham Varghese. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 256 pages. $24.95.

When preeminent philosophical atheist Antony Flew announced in 2004 that he had come to believe in God’s existence and was probably best considered a deist, the reaction from both believers and skeptics was “off the chart.” Few religious stories had this sort of appeal and impact, across the spectrum, both popular as well as theoretical.  No recent change of mind has received this much attention. Flew responded by protesting that his story really did not deserve this much interest. But as he explained repeatedly, he simply had to go where the evidence led.

Some Background

It was this last sentence, repeated often in interviews, that really interested me. Having known Tony well over more than twenty years, I had heard him repeat many things like it, as well as other comments that might be termed “open minded.” He had insisted that he was open to God’s existence, to special revelation, to miracles, to an afterlife, or to David Hume being in error on this or that particular point. To be truthful, I tended to set aside his comments, thinking that while they were made honestly, perhaps Tony still was not as open as he had thought.

Then very early in 2003 Tony indicated to me that he was considering theism, backing off a few weeks later and saying that he remained an atheist with “big questions.” One year later, in January 2004, Tony told me that he had indeed become a theist, just as quickly adding, however, that he was “not the revelatory kind” of believer. That was when I heard him say for the first time that he was just following where the evidence led. Then I remembered all the earlier occasions when he had insisted that he was not objecting to God or the supernatural realm on a priori grounds. I was amazed. Tony was indeed willing to consider the evidence!

There was an immediate outcry from many in the skeptical community. Perhaps Tony Flew was simply too old, or had not kept up on the relevant literature. The presumption seemed to be that, if he had been doing so, then he would not have experienced such a change of mind. One joke quipped that, at his advanced age, maybe he was just hedging his bets in favor of an afterlife!

One persistent rumor was that Tony Flew really did not believe in God after all. Or perhaps he had already recanted his mistake. Paul Kurtz’s foreword to the republication of Flew’s classic volume God and Philosophy identified me as “an evangelical Christian philosopher at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University,” noting my interview with Flew and my “interpretation” that Tony now believed in God.[1] Kurtz seemed to think that perhaps the question still remained as to whether Flew believed in God. After explaining that Flew’s “final introduction” to the reissued volume had undergone the process of four drafts, Kurtz concluded that readers should “decide whether or not he has abandoned his earlier views.”[2]

In his introduction to this same text, Flew both raised at least a half-dozen new issues since his book had first appeared in 1966, as well as mentioning questions about each of these subjects. Included were discussions on contemporary cosmology, fine-tuning arguments, some thoughts regarding Darwin’s work, reflections on Aristotle’s view of God, as well as Richard Swinburne’s many volumes on God and Christian theism. Hints of theism were interspersed alongside some tough questions.[3]

Of course, book text must be completed well before the actual date of publication. But several news articles had appeared earlier, telling the story of what Flew referred to as his “conversion.”[4] Early in 2005, my lengthier interview with Flew was published in Philosophia Christi.[5] Another excellent interview was conducted by Jim Beverly, in which Flew also evaluated the influence of several major Christian philosophers.[6]

In many of these venues, Flew explained in his own words that he was chiefly persuaded to abandon atheism because of Aristotle’s writings about God and due to a number of arguments that are often associated with Intelligent Design. But his brand of theism – or better yet, deism[7] – was not a variety that admitted special revelation, including either miracles or an afterlife. While he acknowledged most of the traditional attributes for God, he stopped short of affirming any divine involvement with humans.

Along the way, Flew made several very positive comments about Christianity, and about Jesus, in particular. Jesus was a first rate moral philosopher, as well as a preeminent charismatic personality, while Paul had a brilliant philosophical mind. While rejecting miracles, Flew held that the resurrection is the best-attested miracle-claim in history.[8]

It is against this background that we turn to the latest chapter in the ongoing account of Antony Flew’s pilgrimage from ardent atheism to deism. Further clarifying his religious views, especially for those who might have thought that the initial report was too hasty, or suspected incorrect reporting, or later backtracking on Flew’s part, the former atheistic philosopher has now elucidated his position. In a new book that is due to be released before the end of the year, Flew chronicles the entire story of his professional career, from atheism to deism, including more specific reasons for his change. Along the way, several new aspects have been added.

Discussion (2 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

______________

Antony Flew’s Influence

Signifying his change of view, the cover of Flew’s new book cleverly reads, “There Is No God,” but the word “No” is scribbled out and the word “A” is handwritten above it. Flew terms this work his “last will and testament,” noting that the subtitle “was not my own invention” (1).[9] The contents are nothing short of a treasure trove of details from Flew’s life, including his family, education, publications, and interactions with many now world-famous philosophers, not to mention the long-awaited reasons for his becoming a deist.

The volume begins with a preface written by Roy Varghese,[10] followed by an introduction by Flew. Part 1, “My Denial of the Divine,” contains three chapters on Flew’s previous atheism.

The book opens with a reverberating bang. Varghese’s eighteen-page preface sets the tone for much of the remainder of the text. He begins with the breaking news in late 2004 of Antony Flew’s newly-announced belief in God. Varghese then notes that

the response to the AP story from Flew’s fellow atheists verged on hysteria. . . . Inane insults and juvenile caricatures were common in the freethinking blogosphere. The same people who complained about the Inquisition and witches being burned at the stake were now enjoying a little heresy hunting of their own. The advocates of tolerance were not themselves very tolerant. And, apparently, religious zealots don’t have a monopoly on dogmatism, incivility, fanaticism, and paranoia. (vii – viii)

Varghese ends by stating that, “Flew’s position in the history of atheism transcends anything that today’s atheists have on offer” (viii).

This last comment serves as an entree to two of the more interesting arguments in the book. Considering Flew’s impact in the history of modern atheism, Varghese argues initially that, “within the last hundred years, no mainstream philosopher has developed the kind of systematic, comprehensive, original, and influential exposition of atheism that is to be found in Antony Flew’s fifty years of antitheological writings” (ix). He then considers the contributions to atheism produced by well-known philosophers such as A. J. Ayer, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Martin Heidegger. Varghese finds that none of these scholars “took the step of developing book-length arguments to support their personal beliefs” (x).

More recent writers are also mentioned, among them Richard Rorty, Jacques Derrida, J. L. Mackie, Paul Kurtz, and Michael Martin. While they might be said to have contributed more material on behalf of atheism, “their works did not change the agenda and framework of discussion the way Flew’s innovative publications did” (x).

But Flew’s writings like “Theology and Falsification” (“the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last century” [vi – vii]), God and Philosophy, The Presumption of Atheism, and other publications set the philosophical tone of atheism for a generation of scholars. Along with Flew’s many other books and essays, one could hardly get through a contemporary philosophy class, especially in philosophy of religion, without being at least introduced to his theses.

Varghese also raises a second crucial topic in the history of twentieth-century philosophy – Flew’s relation to logical positivism. Many works treat Flew’s ideas, especially those in “Theology and Falsification,” as a more subtle, analytic outgrowth of positivism. Sometimes it is thought that Flew attempted to refurbish a less dogmatic application of the discredited verification principle, popularized by Ayer’s Language, Truth, and Logic.[11]

However, Flew did not interpret his essay in this manner. In 1990, he explained his thinking that logical positivism made an “arrogant announcement” that sought to rule out theology and ethics in an a priori manner. The resulting discussion had often become stagnated. Flew wanted to provide an opportunity for the free discussion of religious issues: “Let the believers speak for themselves, individually and severally” (xiii – xiv).

In an article in 2000, Flew explained that his purpose in first reading the paper at a meeting of C. S. Lewis’ Socratic Club, was that “I wanted to set these discussions off onto new and hopefully more fruitful lines.”[12] In another interview that I did with Tony in Oxford in 2005, Flew attested that he saw his essay as slamming the door on positivism at the Socratic Club. He attests that the purpose of his essay “was intended to simply refute the positivistic stance against religious utterances. It succeeded in that, but then its influence spread outside of Oxford.”[13]

These two topics – Flew’s influence on the philosophical atheism of the second half of the twentieth century and his purpose in first presenting his essay “Theology and Falsification” – are key chapters in the life of this major British philosopher. Varghese does well to remind us of Flew’s influence. As he concludes, it is in this context that “Flew’s recent rejection of atheism was clearly a historic event” (xi).

Flew then begins the remainder of the book with an introduction. Referring to his “conversion” from atheism to deism, he begins by affirming clearly that, “I now believe there is a God!” (1). As for those detractors who blamed this on Flew’s “advanced age” and spoke of a sort of “deathbed conversion,” Flew reiterates what he has said all along: he still rejects the afterlife and is not placing any “Pascalian bets” (2).

In a couple stunning comments, Flew then reminds his readers that he had changed his mind on other major issues throughout his career. He states, “I was once a Marxist.” Then, more than twenty years ago, “I retracted my earlier view that all human choices are determined entirely by physical causes” (3).

Discussion (3 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

The Making of an Atheist

Part 1 (“My Denial of the Divine”) consists of three chapters, intriguingly titled, “The Creation of an Atheist,” “Where the Evidence Leads,” and “Atheism Calmly Considered.” This material is simply a delightful read, consisting of many autobiographical details regarding Flew’s career and research, along with many enjoyable as well as amusing anecdotes.

In chapter 1, Flew reviews his childhood and early life. This includes detailed references to his father: an Oxford University graduate, with two years of study at Marburg University in Germany, who had become a Methodist minister very much interested in evangelism, as well as a professor of New Testament at a theological college in Cambridge. It was from his father that Tony learned, at an early age, the value of good research and of checking relevant sources before conclusions are drawn.

Flew even stated in some of his atheist publications that he was never satisfied with the way that he had become an atheist – here described as a process that was accomplished “much too quickly, much too easily, and for what later seemed to me the wrong reasons.” Incredibly, he now reflects on his early theism that changed to atheism: “for nearly seventy years thereafter I never found grounds sufficient to warrant any fundamental reversal” (12 – 13). Nonetheless, it was an aspect of the problem of evil that affected Tony’s conversion to atheism. During family travels to Germany, he witnessed first hand some of the horrors of Nazi society and learned to detest “the twin evils of anti-Semitism and totalitarianism” (13 – 14).

Chapter 1 also includes accounts of Flew’s basically private education at a boarding school along with his years at Oxford University, interspersed with military service during World War II, as well as his “locking horns with C. S. Lewis” at Socratic Club meetings. He was present at the famous debate between Lewis and Elizabeth Anscombe in February, 1948 (22 – 4). Flew also met his wife Annis at Oxford. For all those (including myself) who have wondered through the years about Tony’s incredible notions of ethical responsibility, he states that while he had left his father’s faith, he retained his early ethics, reflected in his treatment of Annis before their marriage (25 – 6).

In Chapter 2 (“Where the Evidence Leads”), Flew reflects on his early tenure as “a hotly-energetic left-wing socialist” (33), and narrates his early philosophical interests: parapsychology, Darwinian social ethics and the notion of evolutionary progress, problems with idealism, and analytic philosophy. More details on the Socratic Club introduce some of the philosophical reactions to Flew’s “Theology and Falsification,” along with his writing of his epic God and Philosophy, his “systematic argument for atheism” (49). Flew discusses reactions from Richard Swinburne, J. L. Mackie, and Frederick Copleston. His conclusion today, as Tony has told me on several occasions, is that God and Philosophy is “a historical relic,” due to changes in his thinking which arose from other’s response to his writing. These changes are set forth in this volume (52).

Flew also discusses in chapter 2 his well-known volumes The Presumption of Atheism and Hume’s Philosophy of Belief. Philosophical reactions are recounted from Anthony Kenny, Kai Nielson, Ralph McInerny, and especially Alvin Plantinga, whose thoughts Flew calls, “By far, the headiest challenge to the argument” of the former volume (55). The chapter concludes with Flew’s changes of mind regarding some of Hume’s ideas, plus his holding and then abandoning compatibilism (56 – 64).

Ending his section on his atheism, Flew’s third chapter is “Atheism Calmly Considered.” Here he notes a number of his debates and dialogues over the years, both public and written, with Thomas Warren, William Lane Craig, Terry Miethe, Richard Swinburne, Richard Dawkins, and myself. Two conferences are also mentioned. The first (“The Shootout at the O.K. Corral”) occurred in Dallas, Texas, in 1985 and featured four prominent atheistic philosophers, playfully called “gunslingers” (Flew, Paul Kurtz, Wallace Matson, and Kai Nielson) dueling with four equally prominent theistic philosophers (Alvin Plantinga, Ralph McInerny, George Mavrodes, and William Alston). The second conference at New York University in 2004 notably included Scottish philosopher John Haldane and Israeli physicist Gerald Schroeder. Here Flew stunned the participants by announcing that he had come to believe in God (74).

There Is a God

The second half of the book consists of the long-awaited reasons for Flew’s conversion to deism, titled “My Discovery of the Divine.” It includes seven chapters on Flew’s religious pilgrimage, along with the nature of the universe and life. Two appendices complete the volume.

“A Pilgrimage of Reason” (chapter 4), is the initial contribution to this section. In this essay, Flew chiefly makes the crucial point that his approach to God’s existence has been philosophical, not scientific. As he notes, “My critics responded by triumphantly announcing that I had not read a particular paper in a scientific journal or followed a brand-new development relating to abiogenesis.” But in so doing, “they missed the whole point.” Flew’s conversion was due to philosophical arguments, not scientific ones: “To think at this level is to think as a philosopher. And, at the risk of sounding immodest, I must say that this is properly the job of philosophers, not of the scientists as scientists” (90).

Thus, if scientists want to get into the fray, they “will have to stand on their own two philosophical feet” (90). Similarly, “a scientist who speaks as a philosopher will have to furnish a philosophical case. As Albert Einstein himself said, “?The man of science is a poor philosopher'” (91). Flew ends the chapter by pointing out that it is Aristotle who most exemplifies his search: “I was persuaded above all by the philosopher David Conway’s argument for God’s existence” drawn from “the God of Aristotle” (92).

The fifth chapter, “Who Wrote the Laws of Nature?” discusses the views of many major scientists, including Einstein and Hawking, along with philosophers like Swinburne and Plantinga, to argue that there is a connection between the laws of nature and the “Mind of God” (103). Flew thinks that this is still a philosophical discussion. As Paul Davies asserted in his Templeton address, “science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview,” because, “even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a lawlike order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to us” (107). The existence of these laws must be explained. Flew concludes that many contemporary thinkers “propound a vision of reality that emerges from the conceptual heart of modern science and imposes itself on the rational mind. It is a vision that I personally find compelling and irrefutable” (112).

Chapter 6 (“Did the Universe Know We Were Coming?”) discusses fine-tuning arguments and the multiverse option as another angle on the laws of nature. Among the opponents of the multiverse option, Flew lists Davies, Swinburne, and himself, in part because it simply extends the questions of life and nature’s laws (119). Regardless, Flew concludes, “So multiverse or not, we still have to come to terms with the origins of the laws of nature. And the only viable explanation here is the divine Mind” (121).

Chapter 7 (“How Did Life Go Live?”) continues what Flew insists is a philosophical rather than a scientific discussion of items that are relevant to God’s existence. He discusses at least three chief issues: how there can be fully materialistic explanations for the emergence of life, the problem of reproduction at the very beginning, and DNA. Although science has not concluded these matters either, they are answering questions that are different from the philosophical issues that Flew is addressing (129). Flew concludes by agreeing with George Wald that, “The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ?end-directed, self replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind” (132).

In the title of chapter 8, Flew asks, “Did Something Come from Nothing?” In spite of our twenty years of friendship, I was still not prepared to see Tony developing and defending a cosmological argument for God’s existence! In an essay published back in 1994, Flew had raised questions about David Hume’s philosophy and its inability to explain causation or the laws of nature (139). Then, works by philosophers David Conway and Richard Swinburne convinced him that Hume could be answered on the cosmological argument, as well. Buoyed by these refutations of Hume, Flew was now free to explore the relation between a cosmological argument for God’s existence and recent discussions regarding the beginning of the universe. Flew concludes that, “Richard Swinburne’s cosmological argument provides a very promising explanation, probably the finally right one” (145).

In chapter 9, “Finding Space for God,” Flew begins with his long-time objection to God, that a concept of “an incorporeal omnipresent Spirit” is incoherent – something analogous to talking about a “person without a body” (148). But through the 1980s and 1990s, theistic philosophers in the analytic tradition enjoyed a renaissance. Two of these, David Tracy and Brian Leftow (who succeeded Swinburne at Oxford), answered Flew’s questions. Flew now concedes that the concept of an omnipresent Spirit outside space and time is not intrinsically incoherent (153 – 4).

In “Open to Omnipotence” (chapter 10), Flew summarizes that his case for God’s existence centers on three philosophical items – the origin of the laws of nature, the organization of life, and the origin of life. What about the problem of evil? Flew states that this a separate question, but he had two chief options – an Aristotelian God who does not interfere in the world or the free-will defense. He prefers the former, especially since he thinks the latter relies on special revelation (156).

Closing the main portion of the book with some further shocking comments, Flew states, “I am entirely open to learning more about the divine Reality,” including “whether the Divine has revealed itself in human history” (156 – 7). The reason: Everything but the logically impossible is “open to omnipotence” (157).

Further, “As I have said more than once, no other religion enjoys anything like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul. If you’re wanting omnipotence to set up a religion, it seems to me that this is the one to beat!” (157; see also 185 – 6). He ends the chapter a few sentences later: “Some claim to have made contact with this Mind. I have not – yet. But who knows what could happen next? Some day I might hear a Voice that says, ?Can you hear me now?'” (158).

Two appendices close the book. The first is an evaluation of the “New Atheism” of writers like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. The author of the first appendix, Roy Varghese, argues that “five phenomena are evident in our immediate experience that can only be explained in terms of the existence of God” (161). These five are rationality, life, consciousness, conceptual thought, and the human self, each of which is discussed. Varghese concludes that by arguing from “everyday experience” we are able to “become immediately aware that the world of living, conscious, thinking beings has to originate in a living Source, a Mind” (183).

The second appendix is an essay on the self-revelation of God, written by New Testament theologian N. T. Wright, with brief responses by Flew. Wright argues very succinctly that Jesus existed, was God incarnate, and rose from the dead (187 – 213). Flew precedes this treatment by commenting that though he does not believe the miracle of the resurrection, it “is more impressive than any by the religious competition” (186 – 7). Flew’s final reflection on Wright’s material is that it is an impressive argument – “absolutely wonderful, absolutely radical, and very powerful.” In the end, Flew remains open to divine revelation, since omnipotence could act in such a manner (213).

Comments

As I have indicated, Flew’s new book was a delightful read. This especially applies to the many autobiographical details. The intersection of his life with some of the best-known philosophers in the previous half century was nothing short of exhilarating.

It will be no surprise to anyone who has followed my published debates or dialogues with Tony that the clarification found in this volume was more than welcome. For one thing, many of his comments here were also made in our published dialogue in Philosophia Christi. Most of all, this book should clear up the rumors as to the nature of Tony’s “conversion.” He indeed believes in God, and while from the beginning rejecting special revelation along with any religious affiliation, his view of God’s nature is otherwise quite robust. Indeed, his deism includes most of the classical theological attributes. Further, Flew is also clear several times that he is open to special revelation. As Tony told me just recently, he “won’t shut the door” to the possibility of such revelation or even to hearing a word from the Deity.[14]

Of course, I predict that various skeptics will still have profound problems with the book’s content. They will not be satisfied with its proclamations. I can only imagine the nature of the complaints. If I am right about this, it may even confirm further Varghese’s charge of the vociferous nature of this community’s response to the original announcement (viii). If Varghese is also correct that Flew had produced the most vigorous defense of philosophical atheism in the last century, a guess is that some skeptics are still stung by the loss of their most prominent philosophical supporter.

I would like to have seen further clarification on a few issues in the book. For instance, it would have been very helpful if Tony had explained the precise sense in which he thought that “Theology and Falsification” was an attempt to curtail the growth of positivism. That has remained unclear to me. I, too, was taught that the article was a defense of an analytic position that only softened the force of the positivistic challenge.

Another potential question surrounds Tony’s excellent distinction between giving philosophical as opposed to scientific reasons for his belief in God. However, a discussion or chart that maps out the differences between the two methodological stances would have been very helpful. Philosophers are used to these distinctions. But I am sure that others will think that Tony is still providing two sorts of arguments for God: Aristotle plus scientific arguments like Intelligent Design scenarios.

As Tony has said several times in recent years, he remains open to the possibility of special revelation, miracles like Jesus’s resurrection, and the afterlife. In this volume he also continues to be very complimentary towards these options. I cannot pursue further this topic here. While mentioning evil and suffering, I did wonder about Tony’s juxtaposition of choosing either Aristotle’s deism or the free-will defense, which he thinks “depends on the prior acceptance of a framework of divine revelation” (156). It seems to me that the free-will defense neither asks nor requires any such revelatory commitment. So I think that it could be pursued by a deist, too. If so, that is one more potential defeater to the evil and suffering issue. I will leave it here for now.

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The Bible and Archaeology (1/5)

The Bible maintains several characteristics that prove it is from God. One of those is the fact that the Bible is accurate in every one of its details. The field of archaeology brings to light this amazing accuracy.

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Many people have questioned the accuracy of the Bible, but I have posted many videos and articles with evidence pointing out that the Bible has many pieces of evidence from archaeology supporting the view that the Bible is historically accurate. Take a look at the video above and below.

The Bible and Archaeology (2/5)

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The finest article on Antony Flew’s long path from Atheism to Theism!!


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 This is the finest article yet I have read that traces Antony Flew’s long path from atheism to theism.

Among the world’s atheists there was hardly any with the intellectual stature of Anthony Flew.  He was a contemporary with C.S. Lewis and has been a thorn in the side of theists for more than fifty years.  Quite frankly Anthony Flew’s intellectual stature far transcends the squawking and loud atheists of today like Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Lewis Wolpert, Victor Stenger or Sam Harris.  These men couldn’t stand in the same room with Flew in true rigorous discussion.  I will have more on these loud mouths later, but I want to explore the recent book by Anthony Flew entitled There is A God (the A written over a scratched over NO).

First I wish to celebrate the intellect of Anthony Flew because it is to be admired for what path He put himself on that lead to God.   In his youth he adhered to the Socratic philosophy of “following the evidence wherever it leads.”  This is a powerful idea that most atheists would say that they adhere to, but actually fall far short on.  Many just follow the evidence to a pre-decided point and no further.

Anthony Flew was probably one of the most original thinkers in modern times in theological thinking or perhaps a-theological thinking.  In “Theology and Falsification”, God and Philosophy and The Presumption of Atheism he raised the question of how religious statements can make meaningful claims.  He claimed that no discussion of the concept of God can begin until the coherence of the concept of an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent spirit had been established.  In The Presumption of Atheism he argued that the burden of proof rests with theism and the atheism is the default position.  It was this reorientation of the frames of reference that eventually changed the whole nature of discussion.  This changed discussion eventually also lead to a revitalized theism as well.

His Youth

Son of a Methodist minister he traveled to Germany, as a child, prior to WWII.  He remembers the banners and signs outside villages proclaiming “Jews not wanted here”.  He saw the march of thousands of brown shirts in Bavaria and saw squads of Waffen-SS in the black uniforms with the skull and crossbones.  This was the face of evil and powerfully spoke to him that such evil seemed to preclude an all loving and all powerful God.

Always an avid reader and with no predilection to anything religious the young Flew read science and philosophy and gradually drew away from his religious upbringing.  He tried to hide it from His parents, but after service in the War in 1946 the word got out to his parents that he had become an atheist.   A brilliant young man, Flew, attended Oxford University in 1942 and graduated with his undergraduate degree in the summer of 1947.  He passed with top honors and arranged to pursue post graduate work in philosophy and metaphysical philosophy.  During his time at Oxford Flew joined the Socratic Club at Oxford which was headed by C.S. Lewis.  He and Lewis locked horns more than once in this club and the Socratic principle of going where the evidence leads became even more important and had a surprising impact in Flew’s a theological thought that even set the stage for his future theism.

What Makes an Atheist?

I wish to inject a truth here about the cause of atheism in our culture and especially in our church culture.  Flew is a bit unusual in his atheism direction, but we can see how the church still failed him in this though he never points out that truth.  He steps all around that truth saying that the church and religion held no interest for him and that very statement holds a profound truth.  In the preface of the book is a statement from Katharine Tait, Bertrand Russell’s daughter, from her book My Father, Bertrand Russell.  She indicated that her father would not even talk to her about religion or Christianity, which Katharine had accepted.  She said: “I could not even talk to him about religion.” Page XX.  She states later: “I would have liked to convince my father that I had found what he had been looking for, the ineffable something he had longed for all his life.  I would have liked to persuade him that the search for God does not have to be in vain.  But it was hopeless.  He had known too many blind Christians, bleak moralists who sucked the joy from life and persecuted their opponents; he would never have been able to see the truth they were hiding.” Page XXI

This is a stunning truth that I have seen in my personal debates with atheists and that I have seen in writings of some atheists.  It is that Christians in a mistaken legalistic, judgmental attitude have more to do with engendering and creating atheism than perhaps the secular humanism and the other faith killing philosophies.  Many atheists are atheists because of some encounter with a Christian somewhere that hammered the life out of them and hid the glory of a Lord who loved them.  We need to look at ourselves and become the person Jesus wants the world to really see.

Anthony Flew’s Early Impact

Flew’s first target in his incisive logic was not theology, but rather an atheistic philosophy called logical positivism.  Logical positivism was introduced by a European group called the Vienna Circle and was popularized by A. J. Ayer in his 1936 book Language, Truth and Logic.  Logical Positivists believed any statement that was truly meaningful were statements that could be only verified through the sense experience or were true simply by their form and the meaning of the words used.  This meant that a statement was only meaningful if it could be verified as true or false by empirical observations or science.   This resulted in only statements that were true or verified were statements used in science, logic or mathematics.

Anthony Flow considered his paper Theology and Falsification to be the final argument that sealed the fate of logical positivism.   In 1990 Flew stated:

“As an undergraduate I had become increasingly frustrated and exasperated by philosophical debates which always seemed to revert to, and never to move forward from, the logical positivism most brilliantly expounded in . . . Language, Truth and Logic. . . The intentions in both these papers (the versions of “Theology and Falsification” first presented in the Socratic Club and then published in University) was the same.  Instead of an arrogant announcement that everything which any believer might choose to say it to be ruled out of consideration a priori as allegedly constituting a violation of the supposedly sacrosanct verification principle – here curiously maintained as a secular revelation – I preferred to offer a more restrained challenge.  Let the believers speak for themselves, individually and severally.”  Page XIV

I will have to say that Flew’s thinking that logical positivism was utterly defeated is a little premature as the “New Atheism” has brought forth the logical positivism redux in all its illogical and arrogant glory.  Even A. J. Ayers has long abandoned logical positivism as anything worth a philosophical breath.  But is appears the new atheists have revived this errant philosophy to use in their tomes of unreason and illogic.

50 Years an Atheist

I would have to say that Anthony Flew, while a thorn in the side of Theology, with his impeccable and incisive logic and honorable ways was actually a worthy opponent as well.  His life was spent in many and varied places and his academic career spanned the continents.  The list of academic organizations at which Flew was a professor is simply astounding.  First was the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, he then became professor of philosophy at the University College of North Staffordshire.  Later he joined the philosophy department of the University of Keele and then moved to the University of Calgary in Alberta Canada.  He joined the University of Reading until the end of 1982, took an early retirement and taught at York University of Toronto.  Half way through that assignment he resigned and joined Bowling Green State University to be a part of the Social Philosophy and Policy Center for the next three years.  Three years later he retired and lives today in Reading.  It was a very long and distinguished career.

Following the Evidence

As I mentioned before the Socratic principle of following the evidence where it leads was a guiding principle of Anthony Flew and to his credit this principle lead him into many changes.  In 1966 Flew published God and Philosophy where he attempted to present a case for Christian theism where he challenged the theists to come up with a better idea.  Since that time many theists have done just that and in “following the evidence” Flew also changed his views.  He later stated: “What do I think about today about the arguments laid out in God and Philosophy?  In a 2004 letter toPhilosophy Now, I observed that I now consider God and Philosophy to be a historic relic (but of course, one cannot follow the evidence where it leads without giving others the chance to show you new perspectives you had not fully considered).” Page 52

Flew first looked at the concept of free will and determinism as propounded by Hume as the free will defense had often been put forth with the atheist “problem of evil” argument.  He tried to maintain a position that even though man could have a will that appeared free, he believed that the free choices were physically caused.  He called this system a compatibilism and later rejected this view by examining the idea of Hume’s causes.  Hume failed to properly understand the freedom of an independent person to make a choice that was not physically dependent on anything else.  Flew defined three notions of identity, one is being an agent, two is having a choice and three is being able to do something other than what we actually do.  This necessitated a distinction between the ideas of movings and motions that can explain the equally fundamental concept of action.  He states: “The nerve of the distinction between the movings involved in an action and the motions that constitute necessitated behavior is that the latter behavior is physically necessitated, whereas the sense, the direction, and the character of actions as such are that, as a matter of logic, they necessarily cannot be physically necessitated (and as a matter of brute face, they are not).  It therefore becomes impossible to maintain the doctrine of universal physically necessitating determinism, the doctrine that says all movement in the universe – including every human bodily movement, the movings as well as motions – area determined by physically necessitating physical causes.” Page 64 – 65   Flew viewed this philosophical change as just as radical as any change he made on the question of God.

Flew was one of the heavy hitters in the atheist world and in 2004 he made the change from atheism to theism, that rocked that world profoundly.  It was not a sudden change, but as presented above, a piece by piece revamping of Flew’s philosophy as he followed the evidence.

Flew had been in many debates with theists over the years and some proved to be profound in his later change.  Terry Miethe of the Oxford presented a “formidable version of the cosmological argument” in a debate with Flew.

Some limited, changing being(s) exist

The present existence of every limited, changing being is caused by another.

There cannot be an infinite regress of caused of being,

Because an infinite regress of finite beings would

Not cause the existence of anything.

Therefore, there is a first Cause of the present existence of these beings.

The first cause must be infinite, necessary eternal and one

The first uncaused Cause is identical with the God of the Judeo – Christian tradition.  Page 70 – 71

This argument by Miethe was based not on the principle of sufficient reason as most cosmological arguments of this type were, but upon the principle of existential causality.  Flew rejected this argument but it later came to him again in the idea of design in the universe and nature.

In 2004 Flew came to the last of his long line of public debates in a symposium at New York University.  In this debate about science and theology Flew, to the surprise of all announced that he had now accepted the existence of God.  This announcement has caused no small stir among those in the atheist world and those in the theist camp as well.  Many, harsh and strong statements have risen especially from those aforementioned loud mouthed, new atheists.  I will not go into these comments now, but suffice it to say they show no tolerance they so famously shout for their own ideas.

Finding the Divine

Anthony Flew in the above debate made the following statement when asked if the “recent work on the origin of life pointed to the activity of a creative Intelligence . . .

“Yes, I now think it does . . . almost entirely because of DNA investigations.  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.”  Page 74 – 75

Flew has seen the very same things I and many others have observed to convince him of the divine in all creation and life.  Flew has had many writing debates with Richard Dawkins whom he has had some admiration in his earlier days, but drew, and continues to draw distinctions in Dawkin’s selfish-gene school of thought.  He says:

“In my book Darwinian Evolution, I pointed out that natural selection dies not positively produce anything.  It only eliminates, or tends to eliminate, whatever is not competitive.  A variation does not need to bestow any actual competitive advantage in order to avoid elimination; it is sufficient that is does not burden its owner with any competitive disadvantage.  To choose a rather silly illustration, suppose I have useless wings tucked away under my suit coat, wings that are too weak to lift my frame off the ground.  Useless as they are, these wings to not enable me to escape predators or gather food.  But as long as they don’t make me more vulnerable to predators, I will probably survive to reproduce and pass on my wings to my descendants. Darwin’s mistake in drawing too positive an inference with his suggestion that natural selection produces something was perhaps due to his employment of the expressions ‘natural selection’ or ‘survival of the fittest’ rather than his own ultimately preferred alternative, ‘natural preservation.’” Page 78 – 79

He goes on and continues to skewer Dawkins by saying: “Richard Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene was a major exercise in popular mystification.” Page 79   He also states that: “Dawkins on the other hand, labored to discount or depreciate the upshot of fifty or more years’ work in genetics – the discovery that the observable traits of organisms are for the most part conditioned by the interactions of many genes, while most genes have manifold effects on many such traits.  For Dawkins, the main means for producing human behavior is to attribute to genes characteristics that can significantly be attributed only to persons. Then after insisting that we are all the choiceless creatures of our genes, he infers that we cannot help but share the unlovely personal characteristics of those all-controlling monads.”  Page 79 – 80

Dawkin’s premise is that we are merely robots created by our genes to house them and spread them and we are totally subject to the physical laws of genetics.  Flew makes a final deadly thrust at Dawkins when he says: “If any of this were true, it would be no use to go on, as Dawkins does, to preach: ‘Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.’ No eloquence can move programmed robots.  But in fact none if it is true – or even faintly sensible.  Genes, as we have seen, do not and cannot necessitate our conduct. Nor are they capable of the calculation and understanding required to plot a course of either ruthless selfishness or sacrificial compassion.”  Page 80

Anthony Flew also takes aim at dogmatic atheism and it’s misapplication of science when the atheists let preconceived theories shape the way they see the evidence rather than letting the evidence shape their theories. About this he says: “And in this, it seems to me, lies the peculiar danger, the endemic evil, of dogmatic atheism.  Take such utterances as ‘We should not ask for an explanation of how it is that the world exists; it is here and that is all’ or ‘Since we cannot accept a transcendent source of life, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance from matter’, or ‘The laws of physics are ‘lawless laws’ that arise from the void – end of discussion.’  They look at first sight like rational arguments that have special authority because they have a no-nonsense air about them.  Of course, this is no more sign that they are either rational or arguments.” Page 86 – 87

He also takes umbrage at the continuing effort of dogmatic atheism and militant evolutionists as couching every argument as their “science” confronting our “philosophy, religion and non-science.      He states: “You might ask how I, a philosopher, could speak to issues treated by scientists. The best way to answer this is with another question.  Are we engaging in science or philosophy here?  When you study the interaction of two physical bodies, for instance, two subatomic particles, you are engaged in science.  When you ask how it is that those subatomic particles – oranything physical – could exist and why, you are engaged in philosophy.  When you draw philosophical conclusions from scientific data, then you are thinking as a philosopher.” Page 89

Flew says that the three domains of scientific inquiry that he as a philosopher feels are especially important are; how did the laws of nature come to be, how did life originate from non-life, and how did the universe (all that is physical) come into being and why.  It is in this domain that Flew is so devastating to the pretend philosophers of evolution and atheism.

He goes on to point out that the God Aristotle believe in as presented in David Conway’s book The Recovery of Wisdom: From Here to Antiquity in Quest of Sophia.  Conway says and Flew agrees: “In sum, to the Being whom he considered to be the explanation of the world and its broad form, Aristotle ascribed the following attributes: immutability, immateriality,   omnipotence, omniscience, oneness or indivisibility, perfect goodness and necessary existence.  There is an impressive correspondence between this set of attributes and those traditionally ascribed to God within the Judaeo-Christian tradition.  It is one that fully justifies us in viewing Aristotle as having had the same Divine Being in mind as the cause of the world that is the object of worship of these two religions.”

Anthony Flew had correctly perceived that the universe and life itself had to have a vast intelligent designer behind it as it was impossible to have been self caused or uncaused.  He looks further into the laws of the universe and the concept of the first cause of all we see.  He quotes the physicist Paul Davies: “in his Templeton address, Paul Davies makes the point that ‘science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.’  Nobody asks where the laws of physics come from, but ‘even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a lawlike order in nature that is at least in part incomprehensible to us.” Page 107

Davies in again quoted: “Science is based on the assumption that the universe is thoroughly rational and logical at all levels.’ Writes Paul Davies, arguably the most influential contemporary expositor of modern science. ‘Atheists claim that the laws (of nature) exist reasonlessly and that the universe is absurd.  As a scientist, I find this hard to accept.  There must be an unchanging rational ground in which the logical, orderly nature of the universe is rooted.” Page 111

Flew examines the finely tuned universe or the idea of a man centered universe called the anthropic universe.  It appears that the constants in the universe from the cosmic to the quantum are all finely tuned to cause life to occur.  It appears that the universe was waiting for us.  Flew says: “In his book Infinite Minds, John Leslie, a leading anthropic theorist, argues that the fine tuning is best explained by divine design.  He says that he is impressed not by particular arguments for instances of fine tuning, but by the fact that these arguments exist in such profusion. ‘If, then, there were aspects of nature’s workings that appeared every fortunate and also entirely fundamental,’ he writes, ‘then there might well be seen as evidence specially favoring belief in God.” Page 115

Many physicists have explored the idea of ultra high density physics of multi-verses in hyper dimensions that are truly speculative and very hard to prove. In fact another universe outside of our universe would by our technology and any technology we can envision impossible to examine  Very few physicists actually hold to this multi-verse idea with the exception of those who do not want to believe in a intelligent creator.  Physicist Davies weighs in again: “It is trivially true that, in an infinite universe, anything that can happen will happen.’ But this is not an explanation at all.  If we are trying to understand why the universe if bio-friendly, we are not helped by being told that all possible universes exist. ‘Like a blunderbuss, it explains everything and nothing.”  Page 118   Physicist Richard Swineburne rejects the multi-verse and says: “It is crazy to postulate a trillion (causally unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job.”  Page 119   Flew likens the argument to a child coming to his teacher and saying “The dog ate my homework.”  When the teacher indicates unbelief the child changes his story to” “A whole pack of dogs ate my homework.”  It is an answer waiting for a question as it will not answer any current questions.

Anthony Flew, as mentioned before also saw the idea of biological life and the complex coding necessary for that life to be an insurmountable problem with atheism and evolution.  He perceived through is incisive logic that the age of the universe and the current theories of abiogenesis left too little time for life to happen in the random way that it had to occur.  He states: “A far more important consideration is the philosophical challenge facing origin-of-life studies.  Most studies on the origin of life are carried out by scientists who rarely attend to the philosophical dimension of their findings.  Philosophers, on the other hand, have said little on the nature and origin of life.  The philosophical question that has not been answered in origin-of- life studies is this: How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-replication capabilities, and ‘coded chemistry’?  Here we are not dealing with biology, but an entirely different category of problem.”  Page 124   Flew understood the deep issues.  It is not what the current abiogenesis study is and how maybe a few amino acids can be formed in a test tube, but why does life depend on the hyper complex code even at all and what does it point out in the big picture of causality. Most evolutionists are utterly lost in the details of this missing link or that whale vestigial foot or whatever they can club the creationist over the head with.  They never raise their head like Flew did, and look at the big picture this code points too. One of the issues Flew raises is that life is teleological in nature, it posses intrinsic ends, goals and purposes.  We are self aware, we think, we plan, we love, we are alive in a profound teleological way.  The very origin of this life presents profound problems for the scientist who doesn’t understand the philosophy inherent in his work.  Flew says: “The origin of self-reproduction is a second key problem.  Distinguished philosopher John Haldane notes that origin-of-life theories ‘do not provide sufficient explanation, since they presuppose the existence at an early stage of self-reproduction, and it has not been shown that this can arise by natural means from a material base.”  Page 125   It is the profound problem of the biological scientist who wants to adhere to the evolutionist philosophy.  If you cannot start out life by abiogenesis then the rest tends to fall down and become irrelevant.  George Wald a Nobel Prize winning physiologist once said: “we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.”  But years later he changed his belief to a preexisting mind.  He said: “How is it that, with so many other apparent options, we are in a universe that possesses just that peculiar nexus of properties that breeds life?  It has occurred to me lately – I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities – that both questions might be brought into some degree of congruence.  This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality – that the stuff of which physical reality is constructed is mind-stuff.  It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life, and so eventually evolves creature that know and create: science, art and technology making creatures.”  Page 131 – 132.

Flew in his paper The Presumption of Atheism argued that we had to take the universe and its most fundamental laws as ultimate.  But you see this is the materialist trap, if all is material and there can be nothing that is not material then God a priori doesn’t exist.  It blocks out the possibility of something that can transcend that universe.  The idea of the infinite and unending universe was the cosmology of Flew’s early years and that view allowed plenty of time and energy for the atheistic views.  But is has been fairly well documented that the universe had a beginning and this had a profound impact on Antony Flew.  It reminded him of the first sentence in the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  He stated that while the universe was assumed to be eternal and unending then it was the ultimate by brute fact.  But a beginning postulated another something the caused the beginning.  This presented a problem.  Cosmologist were also disturbed by this problem and presented many ideas that would allow them to retain their nontheist status quo.  We have previously looked at those attempts.  But suffice it to know that if one universe requires an explanation for a beginning then multiverses will also require multiple explanations as well.  One of the troubles is that science has a severe problem with the cause of the universe.  Swineburne arguing about the Humean idea of a beginningless series of nonnecessary existent beings, being the sufficient cause for the universe as a whole said: “The whole infinite series will have no explanation at all, for there will be no causes of members of the series lying outside the series.  In that case, the existence of the universe over infinite time will be an inexplicable brute fact. There will be an explanation (in terms of laws) of why, once existent, it continues to exist.  But what will be inexplicable is it existence at all throughout infinite time.  The existence of a complex physical universe over finite or infinite time is something ‘too big’ for science to explain.”  Page 141  So we see that the, now known, finite universe is not the brute fact and ultimate thing and it is also too big for science to explain and certainly they cannot explain away that nothing never creates something.

Anthony Flew in his publications argued that the concept of God was not coherent because it presupposed the idea of an incorporeal omnipresent being.  Again this is the materialist trap and Flew finally found his way out.  Theologians were busy with their answers.  They stated that a body is necessary for being to exist; the condition for a being to be an agent is to be simply capable of intentional action.  God is spoken as being a personal being; this is to talk of Him as an agent to intentional action.

God also dwelling outside of space and time was entirely consistent with the theory of special relativity.  Brian Leftow in his book Time and Eternity showed that God could be transcendent of the universe and went on to explore what He would be like.  It is these studies that showed Flew that an incorporeal spirit could exist and have an impact in our world.  He says: “At the very least, the studies and Tracy and Leftow show that idea of an omnipresent Spirit is not intrinsically incoherent if we see such a Spirit as an agent outside space and time that uniquely executed His intentions in the spatio-temporal continuum. The question of whether such a Spirit exists, as we have seen, lies at the heart of the arguments for God’s existence.”  Page 154

Flew made the transition from atheist to theist.  It was a path of simply following the evidence to where it leads.  He says: “Science qua science cannot furnish an argument for God’s existence.  But the three items of evidence we have considered in this volume – the laws nature, life with its teleological organization, and the existence of the universe – can only be explained in the light of an Intelligence that explains both its own existence and that of the world.  Such a discovery of the Divine does not come through experiments and equations, but through the understanding of the structures they unveil and map.”  Page 155   Flew was willing to learn more and connect with others in their thoughts and was open to new ideas.   He now believes in an infinitely intelligent mind that created the universe.  He knows many who have claimed to have contacted that mind and remains hopeful that that mind may contact him.  His final statement is: “I have not (contacted the mind) yet.  But who knows what could happen next?  Someday I might hear a Voice that says, ‘Can you hear me now?”

I have no doubt that Anthony Flew with his humility will soon hear that wonderful voice of the Lord who loves him.

Evan Wiggs

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Robert Jastrow on God and the Big Bang

 

 

Published on Jun 26, 2012

 

Henry “Fritz” Schaefer comments on a popular quote made by scientist Robert Jastrow. Jastrow (who Carl Sagan was too scared to debate) is an agnostic but believes that the Big Bang leaves room for the existence of God.

 

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Discussion (3 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

 

 

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William Lane Craig vs Peter Atkins: “Does God Exist?”, University of Manchester, October 2011

 

 

Published on Apr 10, 2012

 

This debate on “Does God Exist?” took place in front of a capacity audience at the University of Manchester (including an overspill room). It was recorded on Wednesday 26th October 2011 as part of the UK Reasonable Faith Tour with William Lane Craig.

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, California and a leading philosopher of religion. Peter Atkins is former Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Lincoln College.

The debate was chaired by Christopher Whitehead, Head of Chemistry School at the University. Post-debate discussion was moderated by Peter S Williams, Philosopher in Residence at the Damaris Trust, UK.

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Making Sense of Faith and Science

Uploaded on May 16, 2008

Dr. H. Fritz Schaefer confronts the assertion that one cannot believe in God and be a credible scientist. He explains that the theistic world view of Bacon, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday and Maxwell was instrumental in the rise of modern science itself. Presented as part of the Let There be Light series. Series: Let There Be Light [5/2003] [Humanities] [Show ID: 7338]

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Antony Flew’s journey from Atheism to Theism

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Will Science render supernatural answers unnecessary?

Will Science render supernatural answers unnecessary?

ARGUMENT #2: The “gaps” in scientific knowledge have been closing due to scientific discovery. Eventually, supernatural explanations will be rendered unnecessary.

RESPONSE: In one sense, this statement is true. Modern science has been learning more and more about our world over the last several hundred years. However, in another sense, this statement is false. In some areas, the “gaps” in our scientific knowledge have not been closing but openingover the last fifty years.

Here, we need to distinguish between scientific experimentation and scientific explanation. While scientific experimentation has grown in all areas of science, scientific explanations have shrunk in certain areas. For instance, the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe, and the origin of first life are just as inexplicable now, as they were when they were first studied. Just consider the origin of first life. In his book The Fifth Miracle, agnostic Paul Davies writes,

When I set out to write this book, I was convinced that science was close to wrapping up the mystery of life’s origin… Having spent a year or two researching the field, I am now of the opinion that there remains a huge gulf in our understanding… This gulf in understanding is not merely ignorance about certain technical details; it is a major conceptual lacuna.[1]

In his book The Way of the Cell, agnostic Franklin Harold writes,

Of all the unsolved mysteries remaining in science, the most consequential may be the origin of life… The origin of life is also a stubborn problem, with no solution in sight.[2]

Naturalistic scientists are just as far from explaining the origin of first life, as they have ever been. In fact, the more we learn about these “gaps,” the less we are able to explain them –apart from an intelligent cause. Moreover, if science is truly explaining away the supernatural, then why have devout atheists like Antony Flew come to faith in God due to these recent scientific discoveries? In his book There is a God, Flew writes,

The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind.[3]

I must say again that the journey to my discovery of the Divine has thus far been a pilgrimage of reason. I have followed the argumentwhere it has led me. And it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being.[4]

Flew claimed that his other atheistic colleagues –like Bertrand Russell and J.L. Mackie –would have been “impressed” with this “evidence,”[5]if it had been discovered earlier.

Next Page

[1] Davies, P. C. W. The Fifth Miracle: the Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1999. 17-18.

[2] Harold, Franklin M. The Way of the Cell: Molecules, Organisms, and the Order of Life. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001. 235-236.

[3] Flew, Antony, and Roy Abraham. Varghese. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. New York: HarperOne, 2007. 93.

[4] Flew, Antony, and Roy Abraham Varghese. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. New York: HarperOne, 2007. 155.

[5] Antony Flew & Gary Habermas My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism 2004.

Discussion (1 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

Uploaded on Sep 22, 2010

A discussion with Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas. This was held at Westminster Chapel March, 2008

Debate – William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist?

Uploaded on Jan 27, 2011

April 4, 2009 – Craig vs. Hitchens Debate from Biola University.

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The Bible and Science (Part 02)

 

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