In There Is A God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, Dr. Antony Flew writes, “As a professional philosopher I have changed my mind on disputed topics more than once. This should not be surprising, of course, given my beliefs regarding the possibility of progress in philosophy and the principle of following the argument wherever it may lead me.” (p. 56).
In 2007, nine years after the debate, seven years after Dr. Flew’s letters to me, and three years after his interview with Dr. Gary Habermas, Flew published, There Is A God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. This would be Dr. Flew’s final book-- his final analysis of the topic he had given over fifty years of his life to research. This would also be his most detailed account of the evidence that finally led him to conclude, “Yes, God Does exist!”
“That argument may show that God does exist. I may need to rethink my position.” Dr. Antony Flew had just finished debating Dr. William Lane Craig on the topic Does God Exist? After the debate, as he reflected on Craig’s arguments, Flew began to change his mind. Almost two years later I received two personal letters from Flew in which he shared more of his developing beliefs about God. What I read took my breath away. It was the publication of the debate that led to my receiving these letters.
In my previous three posts, I’ve shared the events leading up to and occurring the evening of the historic debate on God’s existence between Dr. Antony Flew and Dr. William Lane Craig. But what happened after the debate is the real story—a story that has not yet been told. The time has come to tell the story.
There Is A God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind is the title of the book Antony Flew wrote in 2007. God was at work in Dr. Flew’s life for many years leading up to the publication of this book. Some of the story has been told. Some of it has not. In this series, I’m sharing—for the first time—an essential part of this story that I had the honor of watching unfold. The time has come to share these details both to honor Dr. Flew’s intellectual integrity and to preserve accurately the account of the events leading to his conversion, as some in the atheist community continue to question the nature of Dr. Flew’s change of mind.
The Associated Press headline on December 9, 2004, read, “Famous Atheist Now Believes in God: One of World’s Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less, Based on Scientific Evidence.” Due to the press, this story received worldwide most now know that Dr. Antony Flew rejected atheism and came to believe God exists. However, some of the central events leading to his conversion have never been told. I was fortunate enough to have a front-row seat as these events unfolded. I have decided the time has come to tell “the rest of the story.”
I first met Dr. Antony Flew in 1997. I invited him to debate Dr. William Lane Craig on the topic “Does God Exist” at the University of Wisconsin. He agreed, and the debate occurred on February 18, 1998. The events of that evening played an important role in Dr. Flew ultimately rejecting atheism and concluding God does exist. I was privileged to have a front-row seat as these events unfolded.
“It is more reasonable to believe only in what I can see. Therefore I only believe physical things exist, not souls, values, God, or anything else immaterial.” This is a third assumption undergirding the “Science or Faith” narrative that is so prevalent in our time. However, as was true for the first two assumptions, this third assumption has at least three fatal flaws, and therefore should be rejected. I have addressed each of these in detail previously, and so in this blog, I will only touch on the three responses and link to the fuller explanations.
A second assumption underlying the apparent conflict between science and faith is, “I should only believe what I can prove with certainty and therefore know to be true. This is only true of science. So I choose science over faith.” When we look more closely at this assumption, it turns out to be equally false.
We often hear that “science is at war with religion,” a story that has been around since the “Enlightenment.” However, it is the wrong story, because the story is based on at least three wrong assumptions. One wrong assumption is that “Science is about facts and Christianity is about faith, and facts win.” Last week I discussed one reason why this assumption is wrong. This week I offer two more reasons to reject this assumption.
It is not uncommon to hear that one must choose between science and faith. However, for those of us who love science and also love Christ, we wonder if there is not a third way. There is. Science and faith. Once we uncover the underlying assumptions of the “science or faith” narrative, it is easy to see why these assumptions are wrong. That’s my goal in this series.
Last week I noted the first wrong assumption behind this “conflict” narrative is the assumption that “Science is about facts and Christianity is about faith, and facts win.” This week I will discuss one of three reasons this assumption is wrong.
A quick Google search of “Science and Faith” brings up 144 million matches in half a second. Many of these sites repeat the “conflict” narrative—science and faith are at war, and science will ultimately win because it has reason and evidence on its side.
This conflict narrative seems to be more and more common. However, it is the wrong story. In this series, I will identify three assumptions underlying this narrative. I will then share reasons why these assumptions are wrong, and therefore why there is no conflict between science and faith—we should be talking about the “and” not the “or.”
Any average American who has paid some attention to national news reports of the last twenty or thirty years could probably name a least a few—too many—Christian organizations that have failed. Those of us who work in the sphere of Christian ministries can name many more. As a result, there is keen interest among boards, CEOs, and management of evangelical non-profits in better ways to govern organizations.
Management consultant and author, the late Peter Drucker, observed in his 1974 book, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices that all boards share one thing in common—they are all dysfunctional. I disagree. There is one factor that makes some boards healthy and productive, and others not. I have come to this conclusion over the past few years as I’ve learned more about how healthy boards function.
What would you say if asked why you believe God is a person and not an impersonal force? This is the question someone asked me on a recent flight. I offered five reasons, four of which I have summarized these past few weeks. This week I conclude this series with the fifth reason I gave: I and billions of others worldwide—and for centuries—have encountered God as a Person.
On a recent flight the person next to me asked, “Why do you believe God is a person?” Bob was an accomplished CEO and a very thoughtful person who had converted to Tibetan Buddhism. Over the next two hours I shared that I believe God is a person for five reasons, which I am summarizing in this series. The fourth reason I shared with Bob is the evidence that Jesus is God in flesh. Since Jesus is God, and Jesus is a person, God is a person. I offered a number of arguments to believe Jesus is God.
“Why do you believe God is a person?” asked the CEO sitting next to me on the plane. He was a convert to Tibetan Buddhism and thought it more reasonable to think of God as an impersonal force. Over the next two hours, I shared five reasons I believe God is a person—the same five I have been summarizing in this series. We now come to the third reason, which is that only a Person can be the cause of the moral values we all share (such as “Racism is wrong”).
Last Tuesday I lost one of my heroes. Christian speaker, author, and editor Jim Sire passed “from the land of the dying into the land of the living” to a great reward at age 84. He not only had a massive influence on me and countless others through his many books (such as The Universe Next Door, which is one of four books I suggest each parent read with their children before college), he was also a friend and mentor to me and so many others. We can learn at least three lessons from Jim’s life.
“Why do you believe God is a person?” Bob asked me this during a recent flight to San Francisco. He is a bright executive and a Tibetan Buddhist. Over the next two hours, we discussed five reasons I believe God is personal. Last week I unpacked the first reason, from the fact that the universe began. The second reason I shared was that the design we see in the world is best explained as the work of a creative Person.
“Why do you believe God is a person?” I was sitting next to a very bright executive on a recent flight to the West Coast, and “Bob” asked me what I did. When I said I serve with a Christian ministry, this was his question. He no longer believed God was a person, but more of a force. He is one of more and more Westerners who are embracing this view, known as “pantheism.” This underlies all Eastern religions, such as Buddhism (Bob later identified himself as Tibetan Buddhist), which has become especially popular among progressives, youth in search of answers, and Hollywood.