Flew interview

My mind is on intelligent design today, probably because I’ve just started teaching about it in my science-and-pseudoscience course.

Anyway, the ID people are pushing Antony Flew hard, because he’s out with a new book There is a God, and because it’s always nice to be able to highlight a major convert to your cause. There’s an interesting interview with Flew online, which reminds me why the whole affair pisses me off. Here’s Flew’s brief description of his reasons to believe:

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. 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 despite numerous efforts to do so. With every passing year, the more that was discovered about the richness and inherent intelligence of life, the less it seemed likely that a chemical soup could magically generate the genetic code. The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical.

In other words, he invokes the “science” behind Intelligent Design. And he gets the real science thoroughly wrong, from the physics and Einstein down to the biology.

Arghhh! If a philosopher changed his mind for the usual armchair metaphysical reasons, fine. I ignore them anyway. But why do they have to make trouble for scientists instead?

(Thanks to Glenn Branch for the link.)

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    Flew is 84. Maybe he’s hedging his bets – just in case?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03859046131830902921 Mark Plus

    I don’t see the point of celebrating religious conversions in people like the aged who probably have impaired judgment. People can suffer from subtle brain damage as they age and not realize they have made bad decisions. (The brain can’t diagnose its own organic problems very well.)

    That aside, I gather that Flew now argues in favor of a deistic sort of god. How does that solve anything? Such a god could, without logical contradiction, have created human life without meaning or purpose. It could also have created materialistic human life with no immortal part that survives death. What practical difference would such a god make?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16049465653137283724 Doug Indeap

    His mental abilities plainly in decline, Flew was exploited to lend his name to a book that he had little part in writing–and that he seems largely unable to explain to at least one interviewer. Flew’s exploitation is summarized in a recent article in the New York Times Magazine.