Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Antony Flew: Einstein Was Neither a Pantheist Nor an Atheist

I very much enjoyed Antony Flew's book There Is a God, especially as I became acqainted with Flew's atheism as expressed, e.g., in his philosophically famous "Theology and Falsification" essay back in the 1970s.

The speculation re. Flew's change of mind can now be put to rest. Flew is a self-confessed God-believer. On p. 1 Flew writes: "Ever since the announcement of my "conversion" to deism, I have been asked on numerous occasions to provide an account of the factors that led me to change my mind... I have now been persuaded to present here what might be called my last will and testament. In brief, as the title says, I now believe there is a God!"

Flew seems as sharp as ever. He writes clearly and compellingly. Here is a great intellectual who, as much as anyone, understands the reasons for atheism. He repeatedly says that the evidence has led him to belief in God. [Note: Oppenheimer's nytimes essay questions Flew's mental sharpness, and argues that Flew is being used by theists. In other words, Flew is not really so sharp anymore, Roy Varghese wrote nearly if not all the entire book for Flew, and that's a very bad thing to do. So now the study of Flew's mind will begin, generating who-knows-how-many articles.]

One of the things Flew discusses is what Einstein thought about God. Flew writes: "In his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins propounds my old position that Einstein was an atheist. In doing so, Dawkins ignores Einstein's categorical statement... that he was neither an atheist nor a pantheist." Quoting Einstein himself: "I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist." (100) Another Eisntein quote: "What really makes me angry is that they [people who say there is no God] quote me in support for their views." (100)