I must say that I did rather well following up David Berlinski’s “The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Pretensions” with what I just read. It is a combination I would recommend to anyone suspicious of the current popularity of the “new” atheism.
After reading Anthony Flew’s book, “There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind“, I can only imagine what atheists must be saying behind closed doors. His 50 years of experience comes shining through from the very beginning. Most impressive to me was Mr. Flew’s insistence on following where the evidence leads. I have heard this said by others before only to be a bit disappointed in the end. Regardless of what side I found myself on, they eventually ended up leaning some direction more than they probably intended. Such was not the case for Mr. Flew. An fine example of this can be found in the preface, where he dares to take on what was then a force, Logical Positivism, wanting the argument of theists to be more developed. This did not turn him towards theism then (it would take recent discoveries in both cosmological and DNA research to help him along here), but it demonstrated how true to his word he was.
Also both refreshing and clarifying was Chapter 5, “Who Wrote the Laws of Nature?”, where Flew addresses Einstein’s position on God. I will not dare ruin such a fascinating chapter, but I will leave a teaser in saying that Einstein was by no means an atheist or a pantheist and said so himself.
I have to point out I found Appendix A, “The ‘New Atheism’: A Critical Appraisal of Dawkins, Dennett, Wolpert, Harris, and Stenger” by Roy Abraham Varghese (who also wrote the Preface) to be an impressive and satisfying response to the current wave of “new” atheists. Why such a critique does not get more coverage in the mainstream media is disappointing, but not at all surprising nowadays. Nonetheless, after reading this portion of Varghese’s Appendix A I have no problem understanding why the tide is turning:
“Numerous major works of theism in the analytic tradition have since been written by Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, Peter Geach, William P. Alston, George Mavrodes, Norman Kretzmann, James F. Ross, Peter Van Inwagen, Eleonore Stump, Brian Leftow, John Haldane, and many others over the last three decades. Not a few of these address issues such as the meaningfulness of assertions about God, the logical coherence of the divine attributes, and the question of whether belief in God is properly basic — precisely the issues raised by Flew in the discussion he sought to stimulate. The turn toward theism was highlighted in a Time magazine cover story in April 1980: ‘In a quiet revolution in though and argument that hardly anyone would have foreseen only two decades ago, God is making a comeback. Most intriguingly this is happening … in the crisp intellectual circles of academic philosophers.'”
Because of the work of folks mentioned above, as well as Anthony Flew, of course, the tide in the upper levels of philosophical academia has been turning toward the theist. After reading Anthony Flew’s “There Is A God”, you will understand why this is the case.