Anthony Flew was a hard core atheist based in Oxford. He passed away in 2010. He made headlines in the first decade of the 21st century with his conversion to faith. His atheistic book was originally titled, There is no God. The book published after his fresh convictions was titled, There is a God, striking of the ‘no’ with ‘a.’ His rejection of atheism was the worst nightmare for the atheists and sceptics who had found in him a real patriarch for philosophical atheism.
Born of a Methodist minister, he was brought up as a believing Christian. However, for him, the existence of evil in the world was totally irreconcilable with an omnipotent God and that laid the foundations of his atheism. At Oxford he assumed the mantle of the atheist par excellence with his rigorous philosophical and rational arguments. In his God and Philosophy, he had argued that “the design, cosmological, and moral arguments for God’s existence are invalid.”
However, the developments in genetic researches and the marvels of DNA, he claims, have confirmed the irrefutable necessity of a supreme intelligence. For him, his conversion was “almost entirely because of the DNA investigations.” He writes, “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.”
He denied chance as rational explanation for the intelligent design. He used the physicists idea that “monkeys at typewriters would eventually produce a Shakespearean sonnet. The likelihood of getting one Shakespearean sonnet by chance is one in 10690; to put this number in perspective, there are only 1080 particles in the universe.” He finds three undeniable evidences for the fingerprints of God in the world: “‘The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life. The third is the very existence of nature.”
He also countered the arguments of Richard Dawkins, a popular scientist-atheist. Critiquing Dawkins’s ‘selfish gene’ idea, he showed that ‘natural selection does not positively produce anything. It only eliminates, or tends to eliminate, whatever is not competitive.’ As such Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene is a ‘major exercise in popular mystification.’ For Flew, reason remained primary even after his conversion. Rather than negating reason, he said, “I go there where reason leads me.”