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There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind Paperback – 15 Nov 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (15 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061335304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061335303
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“A clear, accessible account of the ‘pilgrimage of reason’ which has led Flew to a belief in God.” (John Polkinghorne, author of Belief in God in an Age of Science)

“Antony Flew’s book will incense atheists who suppose (erroneously) that science proves there is no God.” (Ian H. Hutchinson, Professor and Head of the Dept. of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT)

“Towering and courageous... Flew’s colleagues in the church of fundamentalist atheism will be scandalized.” (Francis S. Collins, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of God)

“A very clear and readable book tracing his path back to theism, revealing his total openness to new rational arguments.” (Richard Swinburne, author of The Existence of God)

“This is a remarkable book in many ways.” (Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions)

“This is a fascinating and very readable account …” (Professor John Hick, Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham)

“A stellar philosophical mind ponders the latest scientific results. The conclusion: a God stands behind the rationality of nature.” (Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box and The Edge of Evolution)

“Antony Flew not only has the philosophical virtues; he has the virtues of the philosopher. Civil in argument, relentlessly reasonable….” (Ralph McInerny, Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame)

“A fascinating record …it will come as a most uncomfortable jolt to those who were once his fellow atheists.” (Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University)

“Flew’s exposition will be a source for reflective inquiry for many, many years...” (Daniel N. Robinson, Philosophy Department, Oxford University)

“Flew couldn’t be more engaging and remain an analytic philosopher...” (Booklist)

“In clear prose and brief chapters, Flew explains the four lines of evidence that convinced him....An intellectual conversion of great significance.” (Denver Post)

“The most lucid and penetrative pieces of philosophical theology to appear in years, altogether brilliant.” (The Catholic Herald)

“A most valuable and readable overview of the many evidential changes of landscape that 20th century science is furnishing to the oldest question in Western civilization: Is there a God?” (American Spectator)

About the Author

Philosopher and former atheist Antony Flew set the agenda for modern atheism with his 1950 essay "Theology and Falsification," which became the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last half century. Flew has published over thirty books, including God and Philosophy, The Presumption of Atheism, and How to Think Straight. He spent twenty years as professor of philosophy at the University of Keele and has also held positions at Oxford, the University of Aberdeen, and the University of Reading. He now lives in Reading, England.


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3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Borrowed Flame on 27 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
While the designation of Flew as `the world's most notorious atheist' might be talking him up somewhat, the book charts the eminent philosopher's journey from arguing for atheism to a deistic position. It discusses his previous arguments for atheism and the rebuttals his oponents made, and moves on to the contemporary arguments that persuaded him to change his mind, and the ones the didn't.

It's important to note that there has been some controversy with this book. While Flew had already made his change of mind public several years earlier, some felt that Varghese had taken advantage of an old man in mental decline (most notably Mark Oppenheimer's piece in the New York Times). The criticisms have been roundly debunked by a number of people who knew Flew, and indeed, Flew himself offered this clarification:

"I have rebutted these criticisms in the following statement: "My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 per cent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I'm 84 and that was Roy Varghese's role. The idea that someone manipulated me because I'm old is exactly wrong. I may be old but it is hard to manipulate me. That is my book and it represents my thinking.""

While I don't feel the need to defend the legitimacy of the book against the ad hominem attacks, I was keenly aware of these accusations while reading the book. I noticed a distinct difference between the main text of the book and the appendix attributed specifically to Varghese, and for these reasons, I will continue with the view that the positions put forward are the thoughts of Flew unless specifically stated otherwise.
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When you see that a book on a weighty metaphysical topic such as the existence of God has received 61 reviews on Amazon, it raises a red flag - you have to suspect that many of those reviews have been posted for polemical or partisan reasons by people with very strong views on the central question.

You'd be right in this case - the majority of these reviews have been written by committed theists or atheists, and tell you more about their beliefs than the author's. In light of this, it is perhaps best to consider the book strictly on its merits, without reference to one's own philosophical position. Judged from this perspective, I would still have to say that this is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the question of whether the existence of the world is attributable to a super-intelligent being, and what science and philosophy can tell us about this question. The reason it is essential reading is that it was written by someone who changed his position on the question, and is able to articulate the reasons why. What Flew says in this book is quite simple - that the new evidence that has emerged in the past 30 years about the origins of the cosmos, and dependence of life on very precisely calibrated physical conditions, tends to strengthen rather than weaken the argument for the existence of God. As he says, he followed the evidence and this led him to change his mind. There's nothing wrong with that - in fact, it is precisely what makes the book interesting, whether or not you find these new arguments compelling. Nor is there any evidence that Flew was 'coerced' in any way by his co-author, Roy Abraham Varghese, or that he started to believe in God because he was getting old.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By S. Meadows on 28 May 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There has been much said about the authorship of this book. Some have attempted to undermine the book by claiming that it was all or mostly written by Varghese, with Flew in a confused state of mind. Flew himself denied this. It also becomes clear in the style of writing as an essay from Varghese is included in the Appendix. It is the inclusion of this poorly thought out and scientifically illiterate essay at the end that has resulted in this book getting 4 stars instead of 5. The crass nature of this appendix contrasts with the rest of the book greatly.

The main body of the text is a marvelously honest account of the thinking of a great mind. Detailed philosophy has been as accessible as I ever seen it. The arguments are fine and concise. Each chapter could be expanded into a book in itself, and could certainly be the basis for a debate.

However, be under no illusion: this is not a Christian book. While passing references are made to Christianity, and indeed the second appendix is a typical tour-de-force that we have come to expect from Tom Wright, Flew (at the time of his death) was a Deist, not a Christian. This book is very much focussed on ontology.

Given his earlier position in life as an atheist it is good to see the inclusion of many atheistic arguments contained in this book. These are not straw men, as you may find in many other anti-atheistic writings and present the unbeliever with ammo and the believer with food for thought. Likewise, the second half of the book reverses the roles.
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