Saturday, April 17, 2010

Antony Flew, 1923-2010

Antony Flew, a famous professor of philosophy in England, died a few days ago in Reading, England, at the age of 87.

He wrote on many topics. But he was best known for his writings on the philosophy of religious belief and on David Hume. He was famous for arguing that human reason could neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, because belief in God was not falsifiable.

As a member of the Socrates Club at Oxford, Flew engaged in a continuing debate with C. S. Lewis over religious belief.

It became an international news story, therefore, when it was reported that he had changed his mind, and that he was now convinced that there was sufficient evidence to believe in God, or at least in some deistic conception of God as First Cause. But his advancing age had deprived him of his mental clarity, and there was some evidence that some evangelical Christians around him were manipulating him for their own purposes.

In 2006, he wrote a brief review of Darwinian Conservatism.

I found that he was a clear expositor of Hume's thoughts about religion. I was also influenced by his argument--drawn from Hume--that all explanation depends on an unexplained ground, which leaves us affirming the ultimate starting point to be either nature or nature's God.

There's an obituary in the New York Times.

My posts on Flew can be found here and here.

A couple of recent posts on the proofs for God's existence can be found here and here.

Kenneth Grubbs has written an article for the Skeptics Society on "The Remarkable Story of Professor Antony Flew.

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