Antony Flew's There is a God - Refuted
Former Atheist Antony Flew in There is a God - Refuted, How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, decided that a deistic God existed. Despite the fact that this God is far from a real God and has a few superficial resemblances to the Christian God, the Christian world used Flew's conversion as an excuse for declaring that their belief in God is plausible. Flew's God does not have the main trait the Christian one has - a capacity to enter into a relationship with his creatures.
Antony Flew


Antony Flew, who had been Professor of Philosophy at the University of Keele, was the author of the famous essay Theology and Falsification in 1950. He published over thirty books. The most famous of his books were God and Philosophy and The Presumption of Atheism in which he propounded his atheism. Sadly he seems to want to undo his life's work for atheism and philosophy by having produced another very famous book called There is a God published by HarperOne, New York, 2007.
Flew commits himself to the words of wisdom from Socrates: "We must follow the argument wherever it leads" (page 22). Evidently the religions of the world are not doing that very well! Why else is every religion made up of disagreeing factions and why does one religion contradict the others in very serious matters? Why is Jesus a fraud according to Judaism and the God of truth according to Christendom? The religions should be regarded with suspicion.
The preface (page xxi) dwells on atheist Bertrand Russell's sense of loneliness and accepts the thought that this was caused by his atheism. Believers frequently try to make it seem that atheism necessarily or usually has to be a misery. They imply we do others harm if we help them become atheists. What about happy atheists? What about happy believers who don't care if there is a God or not?

God and cause and effect

Page 57 repudiates the view of Hume that you don't experience cause and effect and can't prove them.


Hume didn't believe in God. But if you believe in God you believe God did not create the universe in the past and stop. He has been creating it every moment since. If he stopped, the universe would vanish and there would be nothing. This really means that the ball does not fall to the ground. God creates anew every moment. He creates afresh. So he creates afresh countless times until the ball ends up on the ground. It didn't fall to the ground at all. God made it seem to. It is the same thing as with the silent screen movies. Film tape could be full of separate pictures of a ball being dropped from a hand and falling to the ground. The tape goes through a projector to make it seem that the ball is moving. It actually is not. Each moment of time is like a separate picture and the next moment like the next picture and so on. The God belief obliterates the idea of cause and effect that we need to function in the world.
Free will

Flew admits on page 60, that the idea that our choices are not choices but caused by physical forces and the idea that that they are choices so we could do different from what we do are compatible is wrong. He rejects compatiblism which became popular as a way of explaining how we can have free will despite being subject to deterministic forces.  
On page 60 he distinguishes between two different kinds of causes that may have to do with what we decide to do. One is physical cause and it forces us to do things so we are not free. It necessitates. He says if he gives me good news, I have the choice of saying whoopee or not. He said I am free to do one or the other. He argues that that if I say he is the cause of my saying whoopee though it is my choice that I'm mistaken for this cause does not necessitate but merely inclines.


The difference between necessitated and inclined is this.  If the first you feel forced.  In the second you do not.  But feelings are no good for telling us if we have free will.  You can take alcohol and never feel as free.
He argues that physical causes such as insanity force us to do things. They are irresistible forces. But he says we have desires and wants and can resist them so they prove we have free will (page 62). This proves nothing. We might be sorely tempted to do wrong and the reason we resist is because we are taken over by a stronger desire than the temptation. And what about the desires that are there that we are not aware of?
More God nonsense


He mentions Plantinga who said that people do not have any obligation to give reasons for believing in God just as they don't have to have reasons for believing in the world (page 70). This is nonsense for we need to make assumptions about the world but not about God. It is people making assumptions about God that causes all the religious trouble in the world.  Our living and acting in the word is not verbally giving reasons but it is giving reasons!
Page 86 says that atheists who say that we should not ask for an explanation of how it is that the world exists, it is here and that is all are being dogmatic atheists and being narrow and bigoted. He says that atheists who say they can't accept God as maker of life and prefer to believe the impossible which is that life appeared by chance from matter are as bad.
But if it can't be explained then it can't be explained. The God belief explains nothing. We say that God is non-physical and has no parts but we have no way of testing or ensuring that this idea makes sense. Thinking your way to a God like that does not mean you are right.


Believers say that life can't come from matter. But how do they know if spirit can live? The believers are the ones who are arrogant. If atheists are arrogant they can take pride in the fact that they are less arrogant than the believers.
Page 89 says that when you examine how matter affects other parts of matter that is science but if you ask how the matter came to be that is philosophy. But science may be into theories and verifying them by experiments but it is a form of philosophy and seeking for wisdom and knowledge. Philosophy is replete with theories and experiments too. Philosophy actually has no answer at all for how matter came to be. Nobody can explain how to make matter from nothing. To say God made matter from nothing is to say that 0 can be turned into 1. This either makes no sense or is beyond all comprehension. If we want to claim to be sane then it makes no sense.
Page 92 makes the terrible error of assuming that the God of the Bible matches the best God that philosophy can come up with a spiritual god meaning a God without parts and components who is infinite and all-knowing and so on. The God of Christendom is a mongrel. The characteristics of the God of Aristotle and Plato were grafted on to the Bible God. The Bible never says its God is immaterial or without parts. The Bible uses the same word for breath as for spirit indicating that spirit could be a form of undetectable matter. It never uses spirit in the sense that it means today.
Page 99 quotes Einstein saying he was not an atheist and that he thought he was not a pantheist. Einstein then said he thought he was not a pantheist meaning he could have been one but was not sure. A pantheist is pretty close to an atheist for they consider God and nature to be the same.  "I claim credit for nothing.  Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control" - Einstein, Saturday Evening Post 1929.  Like Schopenhauer, Einstein would have made this words his own, "We can do what we wish but wish what we must."  That is as far from any God as you can get.  The miracle of free will is out and a God that allows such pain and suffering as if there is a free will that is not there at all is not a God. I wonder how Flew could be so stupid here.

God the designer?

Page 111 responds to Dawkins' argument against God as designer. Dawkins said that if you look at the complicated universe and say the explanation for it is God, the problem is that you are trying to solve the difficulty of how the universe came to be by inventing another difficulty, a complicated God.
Flew replies that the idea of a simple God was so easy that the religions of Judaism and Islam and Christianity understood it. Simple means a God who is spirit and who has no parts. We see atoms and know what atoms can do. But we do not understand an atom as an atom. We only understand that if we do certain things with atoms some things will happen. But we don't understand the atoms themselves or how and why they exist. If we cannot understand something we can see and something of which we are made how can we understand spirit? Religion may say spirit is simple but how does it know? Is God simple? He could be intelligent but not a conscious being. Our intelligence still exists when we are unconscious. We don't use it then that is all. But it still exists. If you say God is intelligent and conscious or alive that does not sound like simplicity!
If God is simple then God does not need to be conscious or alive. In fact if he does and is conscious and/or alive then he is not simple. He is not God. But if he is not alive is it proper to describe him as God? Supreme intelligence would be better.
If we describe him as supreme intelligence and not as God, some believers will be saying we have found God but we have just understood him slightly and need to make progress. This is dishonest of them for we could be right for that is all the being is. They are being arrogant and patronising and condescending implying that anybody that knows what they are doing will agree with their ideas. If God is not God but supreme intelligence then religion has an idol that it calls God. They are in the same league as the person who thinks a mobile phone is a person because he hears a voice coming out of it.
Page 114 says the universe according to science carries strong evidence to the effect that it was prepared for us. Suppose we admit it looks that way. Is it decent and right to ignore the pain of a child suffering in agony as a proof that nothing out there cares about us and then to use science to say that something does care? It is like saying that a doctor who saved every life on earth but who killed one baby was a good man when he killed the baby for the scientific evidence for his goodness is nearly proven so he must have a reason we don't know of or can only guess at that justifies what he did. You belittle the baby if you say that. Atheism is simpler in the sense that you don't have to turn intellectual somersaults and justify God and come to great difficulty. When people make such a big effort to believe in God despite suffering or because of it and when it torments them if they reluctantly hate God for letting something bad happen to their baby there is only one conclusion that can be taken. They know it is evil but they condone it. The honour of God is the dishonour of humanity.
It is clergy, preachers, Bibles, theologians and some philosophers who say God has the right to let a baby rot in agony to death. This is people condoning evil they see. Even if God could and does have that right, do people have the right to make assumptions like that? Is it not worse if God can't have that right? Many God-botherers say you should not judge another person but they are judging that God was right to hurt the baby or at least stand by and let the baby suffer. It is certainly disrespectful to say the least when the religious say God was right for it is them saying it not him. Divine authority saying the evil was justified is one thing but human authority saying it is disgraceful - who do they think they are? Humans are not infallible. They say it by their own authority about God. Only God should be saying it. When human authority speaks it speaks primarily not because something is right but because the authority wants it to be right. They want to condone. This is especially bad when they are not the baby!

Page 182 says there are two kinds of consciousness. Consciousness. Consciousness and thinking.
Thinking is processing information you are aware of. It is being conscious of information and then the next moment of the same information or new information. If you look around the room you are in "without thinking" you will see that you are still processing as in absorbing information. So you are always thinking!  When you look around "without thinking" all you have done is be more passive but you are still thinking.


Now we think for we live in time and have to work out our abc's.  But God is outside time and is living in something like a present moment with no past or future so God cannot really be conscious as in thinker.  If God thinks then God is not God and has to work things out like ourselves.
Flew is entitled to become a Deist if he thinks Deism is true. But the main points in his book are only superficially convincing. Atheism is the strongest position and the fairest. My exposure of his delusions and errors will be dismissed as many as atheistic fundamentalism - but it is not dogmatism to be right about him being wrong and to give clear reasons to show that so that people can think for themselves! It is not dogmatism so it is not fundamentalism.
The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Edited by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2007

No Copyright