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on 28 September 2017
I really enjoyed reading the book. Quite awesome.
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on 4 April 2017
Despite the snide reviews of some, this is a very interesting read from someone who eventually changed his views by 'following where the evidence leads'. His initial (and almost lifelong) atheism was a product of failing to reconcile the concept of a good God with evil. That he managed to do so in the end is a telling comment on the poverty of the materialist philosophy.
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on 12 September 2016
Before this book was published, I had never heard of Antony Flew, so the claim that he was “the world’s most notorious atheist” seems a great exaggeration to me. I have only just read it after coming across a second-hand copy in an Oxfam bookshop.

The controversy over who actually wrote this book, Flew or Varghese, makes it difficult to evaluate. However, there seems to be no reason to doubt that Flew has genuinely changed his mind on the existence of God after carefully evaluating the evidence from cosmology and biology. Much of the book is written in the first person, which certainly indicates that it was the work of Flew himself. It was certainly interesting to read his biographical account of his personal development of philosophical reasoning.

On the whole, I found the chapters; “Who Wrote the Laws of Nature”, “Did the Universe Know We Were Coming” and “Did Something Come from Nothing” convincing; but then I have read both sides of this argument before.

The chapter “How Did Life Go Live?” was less convincing. We do not know how life got going on the Earth, although biologists think they are beginning to understand how it might have happened. The most accepted proposal at the moment seems to be that very simple molecules of RNA developed which were able to both replicate and act as enzymes. However, there is no surviving evidence of how life began – only speculation. The arguments of Flew and Varghese seem to be a mixture of what has been called the “argument from incredulity” and a version of the “god of the gaps”. The key question, it seems to me, is: is the Genetic Code an arbitrary code (like Morse Code) or is there some chemical affinity between the Codons and the Amino Acids they specify? If the former is true, that would suggest an intelligence of some sort formulated the Genetic Code.

Appendix A, on the “New Atheism”, by Varghese was unnecessary. It repeats much of what Flew has said in the main body of the book. Appendix B, on Jesus, by N T Wright, was interesting because it presented some of Wright’s ideas from his massive “Jesus and the Victory of God” and “The Resurrection of the Son of God” in succinct and easily understood form.

Read simply as the account by one philosopher of how he was led by the evidence from atheism to belief in God (but not necessarily in Christianity) this is an engrossing and readable book.
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on 27 March 2011
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.

The first part of the book deals with Flew's career and previous positions and arguments, and I found it very interesting, as well as his appraisal of the debates he has had. One of the things that really struck me about Flew is that he is much more generous and willing to engage and interact with those he disagrees with than might be said about the so called `new atheists'. Indeed it would seem that his former allies in unbelief are even unwilling to give Flew anything beyond scorn. Most of the time he does not go into the arguments in any real detail, often summarising his response in one or two sentences.

The second part deals with the arguments which convinced him that there exists a deistic `infinite Intelligence'. The major arguments he cites are `the laws of nature' - that there appears to be a rational intelligence behind the universe; `fine tuning' - that the universe appears to have been set-up for us; and DNA and emergence of life.

There follows two appendicies. The first is an essay from Varghese entitled "The `New Atheism': a critical appraisal of Dawkins, Dennet, Wolpert, harris, and Stenger. In my opinion, the arguments put forward in this section are rather more inferior than the ones put forward by Flew. The second is a dialogue between Flew and N.T. Wright called "The self-revelation of God in Human history" dealing with the evidence for the resurrection. Flew seems to think that Wright puts forward the best case for the resurrection that he has seen, though while being somewhat open to the claims doesn't seem to find them persuasive. I agree that Wright makes a very good case, and the answers he gives to Flew's questions were very interesting, but inevitably Wright fleshes out these issues in greater depth in his own works.

I don't think the book is intended to be an argument for deist belief so much as a chronicle of Flew's journey and thoughts, and in that sense I doubt it will necessarily change anyone else's mind. It is a shame that his opponents resorted to petty ad hominem attacks on someone following the evidence where they saw it to lead. If you're looking for rigorously defended philosophical or apologetic debate, this is not the book for you. If you want to see what a great philosopher thought and how he changed his mind, this is an interesting read.
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on 30 December 2013
I don't feel qualified to offer a detailed analysis, especially when others here have already done it better than I could. However, I will say how helpful it is to be guided so carefully through the thinking, to be given a balanced, helpful view of 'new' athesism through the lense of an experienced and well respected philosopher and not someone with existing theistic beliefs. It is sad that athiests are so quick to dismiss him as 'past it,' just because he's changed his mind. I thought it was people with belief that were supposed to 'cling' to their belief no matter what. Thank you for writing this book Mr Flew. I believe this is a question everyone should make a significant personal journey to explore, rather than, as most do, blindly accept surface, lazy arguments which are current or most prevalent in their own social group. I think this book is a very good starter for anyone interested in trying to avoid such a result.
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on 23 October 2014
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. He is brutally frank in admitting that his conversion to theism was not accompanied by any conversion to belief in an after-life. He just looked at the latest scientific evidence from physics and biology and concluded that it no longer warranted his earlier atheism.

This book is a very good read, extremely accessible and free of scientific jargon.
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on 9 July 2016
Though I have studied theology and philosophy and been a church minister for 40 years, I started this book thinking it would be a hard read. Professional philosophers can be very hard to follow. I was pleasantly surprised. The book is part autobiography and part exploration of the reasons for believing in the existence of God. The author embraces no particular religion, though he does say that Christianity is 'the one to beat'. I would highly recommend this book to any Christian seeking a rational basis for belief in God and to anyone who is exploring the possibility of God's existence.
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on 28 May 2010
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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on 3 September 2015
I cannot understand the point of this book. All the arguments have been aired many times by lifelong religious observers. I was actually expecting something new from a recent convert. This a philosophical argument that presents the case for considering the possibility of the existence of god. It is a point of view, but presents no coherent proof that this is the only possibility. He goes on the admit that he is still not attracted to any particular religion so he is still an a-theist as he terms it, meaning without religion but is now a deist. If there is a god who created the universe and takes no further part in human activities then what does it matter whether we believe in its existence or not? Science adequately explains the origin of the universe and of life on earth. He argues that nothing comes from nothing so there must be a prime mover to have created the universe; so that prime mover must have come from nothing, which he denies is possible. To say that god always existed is a specious argument. Frankly I despair of anyone who wants to influence people to believe in god as the next move for most people is to join a religion; and we all know where that leads.
If you are looking for reasons to believe in god or religion this book will not help. If you are an a-theist (or a-deist) curious to learn if you may be mistaken don't bother reading this book, it will not help. To sum up don't buy this book, you will only encourage him.
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on 6 February 2017
this book proved me there is A god.
absolute masterpiece, everythinh is based on logic in it and very easy go understand.
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