Antony Flew was one of the world’s most famous atheists of the 20th century. He debated William Lane Craig and others on the existence of God. But eventually his recognition of the profound order and complexity of the universe, and its apparent fine-tuning, was a decisive reason for the renowned atheist to change his mind about God’s existence.
In a fascinating interview with Dr. Ben Wiker, Flew explains:
“There were two factors in particular that were decisive. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe.”
He concluded that it was reasonable to believe that the organization of space, time, matter and energy throughout the universe is far from random.
Flew continues in his exposition on why he changed his mind about God:
“The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself—which is far more complex than the physical Universe—can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint . . . The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical. The best confirmation of this radical gulf is Richard Dawkins’ comical effort to argue in The God Delusion that the origin of life can be attributed to a “lucky chance.” If that’s the best argument you have, then the game is over. No, I did not hear a Voice. It was the evidence itself that led me to this conclusion.”
Some have said that the laws of nature are simply accidental results of the way the universe cooled after the big bang. But, as Rees has pointed out, even such accidents can be regarded as secondary manifestations of deeper laws governing the ensemble of universes. Again, even the evolution of the laws of nature and changes to the constants follow certain laws. ‘We’re still left with the question of how these “deeper” laws originated. No matter how far you push back the properties of the universe as somehow “emergent,” their very emergence has to follow certain prior laws.’1 So multiverse or not, we still have to come to terms with the origin of the laws of nature. And the only viable explanation here is the divine Mind.
—Antony Flew, There is a God
(Antony Flew became an atheist at the age of 15. He has been a champion of atheism for over six decades, has held positions at Oxford and the University of Keele and has published thirty-five works.)
1. Martin Rees, “Exploring Our Universe and Others,” in The Frontiers of Space (New York: Scientific American, 2000), 87.