Even the demons believe—and shudder!
I just noticed that Antony Flew died.
Professor Antony Flew was one of the most prominent atheist philosophers of the twentieth century. He had little in common with the so-called “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and others; Professor Flew was an intelligent and amiable fellow who simply disagreed with theists on the facts. He even struck up a rich friendship with Dr. Gary Habermas, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Philosophy and Theology Department of Liberty University.
Then, in 2003, a funny thing happened. Antony Flew, atheist extraordinaire, changed his mind at the age of 80. He decided there is a God after all.
What changed his mind? Two things: first, the idea that the universe has been masterfully designed by an intelligent designer was a better explanation than that life, the universe, and everything just happened at random. “I have been persuaded that it is simply out of the question that the first living matter evolved out of dead matter and then developed into an extraordinarily complicated creature,” he said.
Second, he was persuaded that the universe seems to have had a beginning—and if something began, something must have caused it.
But he was hardly a Christian:
Flew’s conversion did not embrace such concepts as Heaven, good and evil or the afterlife – let alone divine intervention in human affairs. His God was strictly minimalist – very different from “the monstrous oriental despots of the religions of Christianity and Islam”, as he liked to call them. God may have called his creation into existence, then, but why did he bother? To that question, it seemed, Flew had no answer.
“Flew had no answer.” Sadly, Antony Flew must now come up with one. He died and went to face the God he merely acknowledged and answer for his own rebellion against him. I say this not because I know how bad Antony Flew was, but because I know what the Bible says about God, man, sin, judgment, death, and resurrection. If the Bible is wrong, then I will happily consider more cheery prospects for Professor Flew.
Though he acknowledged the existence of a god, he did not repent and seek forgiveness in the name of Jesus. This is a man who will be convicted by evidence from the creation, evidence even he admitted was persuasive:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
The demons and Pharisees alike agreed that God exists, and both groups went further than Antony Flew did in recognizing Him. His brilliance as a philosopher was of no help; the good news of the Gospel, curiously, is that you bring nothing to the table. If the Gospel were something to be figured out, perhaps he would have fared better… but as C.S. Lewis said, “Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn’t have guessed. That’s one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed.”
So while I am encouraged to hear of someone taking matters seriously enough to change his long-considered position on God’s existence, the tragic fact is that this is quite different from a sinner coming to the end of himself and calling on the name of the Lord to be saved.