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← Antony Flew reviews the Index of The God Delusion

Antony Flew reviews the Index of The God Delusion - Comments

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 1 by mordacious1

This is a sad story. I really do think that Flew actually flew (into the cuckoo's nest). I'd like to see the guy on video so I can judge for myself if his marbles are all still in the bag.

[edit] I've already told my wife that if I start believing in god, that senility has set in and that she can put me in a home or put me down, her choice.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 12:43:00 UTC | #203387

Oystein Elgaroy's Avatar Comment 2 by Oystein Elgaroy

Where is the documentation for Einstein's alleged views on God? And if Flew is right (which I seriously doubt) what would it prove? Flew's(?) book is full of arguments from authority: famous physicists X and Y believed in God, hence God exists. He can't be at his full mental powers if he wants to take full responsibility for such a crappy book.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 12:54:00 UTC | #203393

He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy's Avatar Comment 4 by He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy

It's one of those ones where you just have to shake your head and wonder why?

And the only reason I can come up with is because it makes him feel good. Bugger the facts and sod the evidence, so long as he feels safe in that comfortable blanket of religion that's what he's gonna stick to.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 12:55:00 UTC | #203395

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 3 by Diacanu

His article, reproduced below, shows Professor Flew's key reasons for his belief in a Divine Intelligence.

Didn't have the patience to plow through the whole thing, was presentation of empirical proof of God one of those reasons?
Doubting it.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 12:55:00 UTC | #203394

BicycleRepairMan's Avatar Comment 5 by BicycleRepairMan

The more I read about/by Flew, the more confused I get. Dawkins spends quite a lot of time explaining the differences between theists, deist and pantheists as far as I can remember.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #203398

blu's Avatar Comment 6 by blu

It's been awhile since I read The God Delusion, but I distinctly recall a discussion of what a Deist believes and how it differs from a Theist. Or am I just mis-remembering? However, given that I know that I did not know the distinction before reading TGD and GING and my current understanding matches what is written above, I am going to guess that Richard Dawkins was aware of it before he wrote the book. And don't I recall reading a refutation about Einstein? I think that the author here did get it right when he said that RD did not write TGD to explore Truth, but to spread the author's own convictions. But it does present the reasons for that conviction, so what is the problem? TGD is not a theology book after all, but science writing.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:00:00 UTC | #203399

Apathy personified's Avatar Comment 7 by Apathy personified

he has since announced his intention to retire
Isn't it a mandatory retirement?

or rather lack of contents
Hmm, maybe people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones?

apparently deliberate refusal to present the doctrine
He did, very early on. Also, it is very difficult to do this, as he would get the response, 'That's NOT my religion he's talking about'.

a secularist bigot
That can go on the list with; strident, evangelical atheist, etc.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:02:00 UTC | #203402

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 8 by Alovrin

Im interested to hear Richard's comments on this.
Even on the laughable claim by Flew of secular bigotry.
And thoughts about Gilbert Ryle and the Gifford lecture series by Flew "The Logic of Mortality".

I dont know these books and associated materials.
I will see if they are available on line tho'.
Anyone out there who has read them?
MPhil can you contribute anything?

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:06:00 UTC | #203405

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 9 by Diacanu


Flew is clealy just scared of dieing, because of his old age.

I don't really get the logic of that.

If there's no afterlife, wishing for it with all your heart, lungs, liver, and colon won't make it be there.

Likewise, if it turned out there is an afterlife, not believing in it won't make it not be there.

All this faith shit does, is ease passage into that last shrinking TV screen dot.

And really, oftentimes not even then.
Especially if that final TV dot moment was preceeded by the chomping of shark/alligator teeth.

Well, logic shmogic I guess, fear of death is a raw animal thing.

But so's flinging poo, and I don't do that either.
So, I still dodn't let people off lightly.
The apologists want militant, I'M militant. ;)

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:10:00 UTC | #203407

Eshto's Avatar Comment 10 by Eshto

According to Anton Flew:

"...although the index of The God Delusion notes six references to Deism it provides no definition of the word 'deism'"

From The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins:

"Let's remind ourselves of the terminology. A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who, in addition to his main work of creating the universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and influence the subsequent fate of his initial creation... A deist, too, believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place... Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings... Deists differ from theists in that their god does not answer prayers... Deists differ from pantheists in that the deist God is some kind of cosmic intelligence, rather than the pantheist's metaphoric or poetic synonym for the laws of the universe. Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism."

Is he upset because the definition was clearly laid out in the body of the text and not in the index?

I don't get it.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:12:00 UTC | #203410

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 11 by mordacious1

Actually, Richard has made comments about Flew in the past, I wish I could direct you to them.

And he's buuuuuy-innng a stairway, to heaaaaven.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:13:00 UTC | #203411

Auraboy's Avatar Comment 12 by Auraboy

What a strange diatribe. If you care to open The God Delusion you'll find all of the points Flew mentions answered. The religious views of Einstein, a rather judgement free description of the variations in belief, including a rather word for word explanation of Deism versus Theism and noting, as Flew seems to have missed, the explanation in various forms of Jefferson's religious leanings.

I can understand someone wanting to throw stones at Richard's tone (as most of the negative reviews did, as they had nothing else to really go for) but to apparently have missed both the index and text of the book in question seems a grave oversight if not a slightly sad act of senility.

Really quite sad reading. A bit like watching an old person soil themselves. I'd rather not attack. It deserves sympathy rather than vitriol.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:16:00 UTC | #203414

PristinePanda's Avatar Comment 13 by PristinePanda

The fault of Dawkins as an academic (which he still was during the period in which he composed this book although he has since announced his intention to retire)

This is libel, to say the least.

He'll be 70 years old, he deserves to choose to voluntarily retire.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:20:00 UTC | #203416

stevencarrwork's Avatar Comment 14 by stevencarrwork

Rather amusingly, Flew writes the following :-

'A less important point which needs to be made in this piece is that although the index of The God Delusion notes six references to Deism it provides no definition of the word 'deism’.'

The book that Roy Varghese wrote for Flew contains no definition of the word 'deism' and how it differs from theism.

Flew seems to have forgotten what is in his 'own' book...

He certainly has no idea what is in The God Delusion.

On page 18 Dawkins writes :-

'A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who in addition to his main work of creating the universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and and influence the subsequent fate of his initial creation... A deist too believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place. The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs.'

Yet Flew can review the God Delusion and write that there is no definition of deism in it.

He really has gone....

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:23:00 UTC | #203418

Quine's Avatar Comment 15 by Quine

Perhaps it is because of the nature of the terminology of his youth, but Flew just doesn't get the fact that entertaining Deism while using the term "God" makes him the tool of the conventional religious. I can understand that Flew might complain that Prof. Dawkins is treating him as if his position is religious, but that is because he has allowed the religious to present his position as such.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:25:00 UTC | #203420

PristinePanda's Avatar Comment 16 by PristinePanda

Hopefully a few Einstein quotes will elucidate the matter for those uncertain of his spirituality, all taken from the English wikipedia:

You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth."

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

"A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms"it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:33:00 UTC | #203425

HourglassMemory's Avatar Comment 17 by HourglassMemory

I sense that the whole thing, especially since it was published by The Christian Unions, to be a big indirect fallacy (argument from authority).

I'm not saying IT IS, but, oh can I feel them getting close to that cliff.

It would be rather interesting to read Richard's response.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:40:00 UTC | #203428

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 18 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Einstein's most relevant report: namely, that the integrated complexity of the world of physics has led him to believe that there must be a Divine Intelligence behind it.

I'm flabbergasted that Flew has failed to understand what Einstein's Spinozism meant.

Einstein categorically did not believe in a "Divine Intelligence BEHIND" the integrated complexity of the world... he couldn't have. As a committed Spinozist who understood Spinoza quite well, there's just no way Einstein could coherently state something like that and mean by it what people who believe in a transcendent God mean.

Spinoza's God is immanent in the Universe.. that is to say, it IS the Universe... not behind it...

And insofar as there is "intelligence" in God, for Einstein and for Spinoza... that is only to say that the Universe can be understood under the attribute of thought by beings who are capable of doing so. That is to say, so far as we know, just us.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:41:00 UTC | #203429

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 19 by thewhitepearl

idk what copy of TGD he got but I'm pretty sure he covered the different "theisms".

Sometimes I wish these articles came with a "Rate of Frustration scale" Like "have a cup of coffee before reading this" all the way to "remove all sharp objects from the area".

For if he had had any interest in the truth of the matter of which he was making so much he would surely have brought himself to write me a letter of enquiry.

I don't recall Dawkins going into a personal insight as to why he thought Flew did this. I could be mistaken. But judging from the statement that was quoted, I don't see why he needed to compose a letter to the guy to find out any further "truth" just for stating the obvious.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:45:00 UTC | #203432

MPhil's Avatar Comment 20 by MPhil


we shouldn't require too much. There is no such thing as a "proof" of anything except for purely logical or mathematical things.

What I propose we should require are conclusive arguments that some god-hypothesis (deism - theism, whatever) is the best available explanation for something.

I have never seen arguments for this I would call conclusive... and I haven't even read an attempt at this in this article.

Flew isn't completely off his rocker... he isn't a theist. He knows that the mind dies with the brain for example...

...still, I think he is wrong in thinking Deism is a tenable position.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:46:00 UTC | #203433

vesihiisi's Avatar Comment 21 by vesihiisi

These militant deists do their case no favours.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 13:56:00 UTC | #203436

Telic's Avatar Comment 22 by Telic

Antony Flew reviews the Index of The God Delusion

This says it all really. He obviously hasn't actually read the book - only the index.

Perhaps the person who wrote Flew's book also does Flew's reading for him? And just tried to give him the gist of what the book says....?

He also seems to do a lot of assuming about what people mean, or what they are "implying", even when they don't actually say what he believes they are saying....

Pretty disgraceful really.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:01:00 UTC | #203440

Quine's Avatar Comment 23 by Quine

Comment #214510 by thewhitepearl:

Sometimes I wish these articles came with a "Rate of Frustration scale" Like "have a cup of coffee before reading this" all the way to "remove all sharp objects from the area".

There was half a cup of coffee sitting close on the bedside table when I started writing my last post. It went over on the floor and corner of the bed, and now I am doing laundry and scrubbing the mattress.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:05:00 UTC | #203443

BigJohn's Avatar Comment 24 by BigJohn

Are there any people extant who actually knew Antony Flew before and after his 'conversion' and who could comment on what is going on? It would be informative to hear some of these people's observations of his present status.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:08:00 UTC | #203444

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 25 by Dhamma

It's impressive how one can use so many words without saying anything at all.

Was he really impressive as a voice for atheism before?

Really, he's just saying he thinks Dawkins is wrong, without offering anything that strengthens his own belief in a deity.
The funny thing is that religious people seem to think that if they discredit atheism, it by default means they're right! How can they not see the flaws in their logic?

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:09:00 UTC | #203445

43alley's Avatar Comment 27 by 43alley

Dawkins addressed Flew's deconversion in the question-and-answer session when he spoke at Randolph-Macon's Women's College near Liberty University (surely everyone remembers the creationists from Falwell's "compound" lining up to stump Professor Dawkins -- and he mows each one down in turn).

Here is the part where he addresses Flew:

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:11:00 UTC | #203447

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 26 by thewhitepearl

Look on the brightside Quine, at least it managed to miss your computer. (Or blackberry, iphone, sidekick, laptop)

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:11:00 UTC | #203446

ricey's Avatar Comment 28 by ricey

Just shows you have to read and understand everything before you can seriously enter a debate.

I have no idea whether Flew's just a senile old git, or whether Dawkins is just a ranting, if eloquent, spoilt brat.

Lots of us give our views, very few listen to those of others.

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:15:00 UTC | #203450

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 29 by robotaholic

at least Richard Dawkins actually WROTE his last book - this man didn't even write his last book-
-just because you agree with something doesn't mean you have the skill to actually write it -
and look what he wrote:

"My one and only piece of relevant evidence [for an Aristotelian God] is the apparent impossibility of providing a naturalistic theory of the origin from DNA of the first reproducing species ... [In fact] the only reason which I have for beginning to think of believing in a First Cause god is the impossibility of providing a naturalistic account of the origin of the first reproducing organisms."

-I believe that is exactly what Intelligent Design teaches - that I can't imagine how it could have happened so GODDIDIT-

isn't that it? -

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:20:00 UTC | #203454

kornyjorge's Avatar Comment 30 by kornyjorge

It seems to me more like an article of ad hominem attacks, irrelevant points, and appeals to authority than an actual rebuttal of Dawkins' claims.

Why do i get the feeling he hasn't actually read the book? Why don't they ever read the book?

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 14:29:00 UTC | #203458