There Is a God: How The World’s Most Notorius Atheist Changed His Mind by Anthony Flew
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had heard bits of Professor Flew’s fabled change of mind, from atheism to theism. The book purchase was an impulse buy, though, when I saw it at one of our local bookshops.
I was eager to read Flew’s story. After the introduction, I was eager to gobble the pages. Unfortunately, about midway, I realized I was going to be disappointed. I expected an emphasis on narrative, the story of Flew’s wrestling. I wanted to hear the angst and hear him tell the stories of what it was like to be a headliner in so many well known philosophical debates. I wanted to know why he had changed his mind, for sure, but I wanted it set in the context of his life, who he was as a man.
Flew, however, wrote a book that skimmed the surface of his philosophical change of heart. He quotes a lot of people (too many for my taste), and he gives a broad sketch for why, after more than half a decade leading the charge in one direction, he did an about face. It’s interesting, even helpful (though I doubt it beefy enough to change many people’s mind). It just wasn’t worth $22.
Flew describes his journey in words that explain why I found little resonance with this book (and, truthfully, little resonance with his overarching bent in religious matters): “In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith.” When speaking of belief in God, I’m (for the most part) happy however one happens to get there. However, some paths are more beautiful (to me) than others.
Rather, I wish Flew would have sunk more deeply into the words he quoted from Frederick Copleston: “I do not think that it can be justifiably demanded of the human mind that it should be able to pin down God like a butterfly in a showcase.”