The headlines gave the message – Flew was an atheist who had changed his view and now believed in a deist god. And New Zealand Christian blogs picked this up (e.g., Christian News NZ; TBR.cc; Fruitful Faith). My reaction was – “So what?” People change their beliefs all the time.
But a few articles in the New York Times (I’m a Believer and The Turning of an Atheist) indicated that the controversy was not about Flew’s “conversion” but about the authority of the book’s authorship. The conclusion seems to be that Flew, being somewhat disadvantaged by his advanced age, had been ‘taken advantage off’ by his evangelical co-authors. A similar controversy erupted about Flew’s authorship of a critical review of Richard Dawkins The God Delusion promoted by the Christian apologist site BeThinking.org.
I found the controversy frustrating because there were no authoritative comments by Flew himself. This might be explained by his well known technophobia and therefore unwillingness to communicate electronically. It could also have resulted from his new evangelical friends controlling his access to the media.
Now I have had a chance to make my own assessment and draw my own conclusions. The Christian apologist Gary Habermas recently posted videos of a discussion involving himself, Antony Flew and N. T. Wright. Held at Westminster Capel last March, the discussion centred around Flew’s conversion and his attitude towards evolution and Richard Dawkins.
I think the videos do illustrate the probable situation Flew is in and the degree to which his book and statements have been manipulated.
I won’t give you my own conclusion but urge you to view these videos before making up your own mind.
The videos are in the Windows Media file format (mwv):