Antony Flew: A Leading Atheist Who Came to Believe in God


Article #321

by Bill Nugent


Antony Flew (1923-2010) was an atheist of atheists. He was a British scholar and college professor who wrote dozens of books arguing for atheism or on other philosophical subjects, writing from a perspective of atheism. Some considered him to be the world’s leading atheist. He made headlines around the world in 2004 when he publicly declared that he changed his mind and believed that there is a God after all.


The atheist community was stunned into silence but quickly found its voice and questioned Flew’s conversion. Flew gave a number of interviews in 2004 in which he affirmed his new found belief in God but then backtracked a bit and made some ambivalent and even contradictory remarks. Over the next few years, however, he hardened his stance against atheism and went so far as to co-author a book declaring his belief in God.


His book is boldly titled: There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (Harper Collins, New York, 2007). In it, Flew describes his journey from belief in atheism to belief in Deism or more precisely “Aristotelian Deism.” Flew denied having converted to Christianity or any other religion. Flew embraced Aristotle’s concept of “the unmoved mover” similar to the French Enlightenment’s god that doesn’t directly intervene in human history.


The atheist community was not bashful or tardy in attacking professor Flew’s new book. They claimed that Flew was demented or senile and that his co-author, Roy Varghese, did most of the actual writing and inserted his own opinions and claimed them to be Flew’s. Flew shot back with a penetrating public statement making it abundantly clear that the book “one hundred percent” represented his own opinions. Flew’s rejection of atheism and embrace of Deism was unequivocal. He repeatedly affirmed that there had to be an Intelligent Designer to bring life into being.


It’s interesting that for all the attacks on Flew’s book, I don’t recall one challenging a statement in the subtitle. The subtitle claimed Flew was “the world’s most notorious atheist.” That’s a bold claim among scholarly atheists. It shows the high status of Flew among intellectual atheists. His academic career at Oxford and other universities and his paper trail of writings gave Flew high standing in the church of Darwin. Flew was an elder statesman among atheists and his public defection must have been hideously embarrassing for the God deniers. Flew even did the audaciously bold act of joining with eleven other academics in requesting the British government to teach Intelligent Design in the state schools!


Flew wrote that what convinced him of God’s existence was the DNA evidence. DNA evidence has revolutionized biology, medicine and even law enforcement. DNA evidence solves crimes and provides irrefutable evidence that sends rapists and murderers behind bars. It’s also used to revisit cases and set innocent convicts free. As biology progresses it shows more of the mind boggling complexity of DNA. Biologists recently discovered yet another level of cellular complexity called the epigenome which surrounds and transmits messages to and from the DNA. Even the DNA of a “simple” life form such as an E. Coli bacteria is hundreds of thousands of nucleotide base pairs long. The base pairs in the DNA must be precisely sequenced for the bacteria to live.


Atheists believe DNA and all other biochemicals were formed by random collisions of atoms in the early earth. How could unguided processes in nature randomly solve a million Rubik’s Cubes? It takes great faith to believe that millions of extremely low probability chemical coincidences could have occurred and blindly formed every living thing. Atheism is a secular faith to which some adherents cling with religious zeal.


Antony Flew studied the myriad complexity of the DNA molecule and the utter lack of a reasonable naturalistic hypothesis for the formation of the first DNA or of the progression from the first DNA to a reproducing organism. Like so many scientists, philosophers and other academics, Flew came to believe in the necessity of an Intelligent Designer of life.


The DNA evidence alone should make every evolutionist simply capitulate and admit that evolution did not happen and could not happen even in a trillion years of random collisions of atoms. The Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is an Intelligent Design think tank based in Seattle, Washington. It’s members, which include scientists in all fields, openly dissent from evolution.


I’ve written about the “New Atheists” including Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. Many of their writings attack Christianity with boldness and fury. Flew was a generation older than the new atheists. The new atheists no doubt looked up to him. It’s sad that many atheists still cling to their unbelief and still hold on to the secular origins myth called neo-darwinian evolution. Darwinists are clever story tellers but they don’t get to write their own endings. The stiff winds of reality are blowing. I hope they will see and understand the scientific evidence that shouts for the necessity of the Creator. I hope that Flew himself came to a saving relationship with God through Christ at the end of his days.


God beckons the atheist to turn from unbelief. “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways” (Ezekiel 33:11).


Many in the academic community are taking a fresh look at Christianity. Antony Flew wrote positive things about the Christian faith near the end of his life. The ancient Hebrew prophets wrote predictive prophecies of the coming Messiah. These prophecies were written in the pages of the Old Testament. A major prophecy in the book of Isaiah, the 53rd chapter, predicted that the coming Messiah would suffer and die, bearing the penalty of the sins of the people. Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled this and many other prophecies. Forgiveness of sins is obtained through faith in Christ because Christ died for our sins. Turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins!


Steps to salvation:

Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

  • 1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
  • 2) Believe that Jesus Christ came to die for you, to take upon Himself the penalty of your sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18).
  • 3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:13).
  • 4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth (John 1:12, Acts 2:38).
  • 5) Follow Jesus Christ as Lord (John 14:21).

Prayer to receive salvation:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!

(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

One thought on “Antony Flew: A Leading Atheist Who Came to Believe in God

  1. I am a believer in God and in the saving power of His Son Jesus Christ. I have however, been held captive by a nagging sin that still holds be back from freely sharing Christ as I so want to do. This article and the conviction I hear in Antony Flews’ words make me feel emboldened, however, the proof is in the pudding. I’m still sitting in my study and it’s early in the morning. Thank you so much for what you have published. All glory and honor belong to God and the savior Jesus Christ.

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