Carrier on Flew

If you haven't had enough of the Antony Flew story, Richard Carrier fills in the background. It looks worse than it did before — Flew is being obliging, and allowing some loony fundagelicals to put words in his mouth.

In my opinion the book's arguments are so fallacious and cheaply composed I doubt Flew would have signed off on it in sound mind, and Oppenheimer comes to much the same conclusion. It seems Flew simply trusted Varghese and didn't even read the book being published in his name.And even if he had, he is clearly incapable now of even remembering what it said. The book's actual author turns out to be an evangelical preacher named Bob Hostetler (who has also written several books with Josh McDowell), with considerable assistance from this book's co-author, evangelical promoter and businessman Roy Abraham Varghese.

It gets more scathing from there.

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Just giving everyone a heads up. If you're an atheist and you're starting to get a little demented make sure someone is there to protect you from religious people with an axe to grind. The story of the so-called turning of Antony Flew is sad, and really very cruel, as IDers and religious…
From a New York Times Magazine piece about Antony Flew. Here is the most shocking part: When I asked Varghese, he freely admitted that the book was his idea and that he had done all the original writing for it. But he made the book sound like more of a joint effort -- slightly more, anyway. "There…
Back when I was a blogging greenhorn, right about this time last year, an evangelical YEC thought he had come up with an intellectual coup de grâce to make me see "the light"; "Antony Flew believes in a god, so there." (Ok, so I'm paraphrasing just a bit) Chalk it up to ignorance, but I had never…
I have not been shy about my contempt for the crackpot, Roy Varghese — he's one of those undeservedly lucky computer consultants who struck it rich and is now using his money to endorse religion. He's a god-soaked loon who pretends to be a scientific authority, yet he falls for the claim that…

Leave it to the "moral" Christian "right" to take advantage of an aged man, to predate upon his own infirmity, and then dishonestly edit the responses into a gigantic deception.

Burn the sinner to spite the sins.

There is no common human decency they will not compromise in order to forward their elaborate fallacy.

Oh, but it's all good!

1. Flew was an evil atheist, a deceiver in the service of Satan; he deserves to be deceived in turn.

or;
2. We are helping him; even if he does not fully understand now, the door is open to his full salvation.

3. God is very humble. He doesn't care what our motives are, or how much we understand; what matters is that we believe, even if our faith is small.

4.Think of all the people who turned away from God because of him! If even one repents, it was all worth it. Souls will be in heaven because of this book!

5. Those who are making these accusations are afraid. They want to continue in their sinful lifestyles and they don't want us to prove that God really exists. (Heard this one before?)

6. He did write all that. He did! He did! It is really sad that his memory is now failing, but this is what he said while he was still in full possession of his wits. Would we lie to you?

7. We are "speaking the truth into his life." And God will honour that by making it real to him.

Having trouble with those defenses? Try this, then;

8. You just have to have faith.

I can only assume how ticked Carrier is now that Flew has gone back over the nest. I remember reading his articles when Flew wrote him back saying he was dupped and was sorry. To then have this 3rd flip flop must be too much.

By Michael X (not verified) on 07 Nov 2007 #permalink

Ha! Nice, Susannah.

As a friend recently commented: "Why is the religious response so easy to parody? Really, a half decent parody is almost indistinguishable from the real thing."

Sadly, it's true. They're ridiculously predictable.

This is so sad. I had to disabuse someone of the notions that Flew had actually written the damn book and that the science in the thing had any basis in reality, just the other day.

I have one issue with Carrier's article: Flew's mind is so far gone that there's no need to suppose he didn't even read the book put out under his name in order to explain it's shoddy quality.

What next? 'Charles Darwin, "I was Wrong!" - with Sylvia Browne'.

What next? 'Charles Darwin, "I was Wrong!" - with Sylvia Browne'.

Lady Hope beat her to it.

Oh, and, if I may, I'd like to announce a new book I'm publishing. It's titled There Is No God, Evolution Is True, & Homosexuality Is Not Immoral "by" Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Jerr -- I call him Jerr -- totally emailed the text to me just before he died, honest!

Jerr -- I call him Jerr -- totally emailed the text to me just before he died, honest!

It would be far more impressive if he emailed it just AFTER his death...

It would be far more impressive if he emailed it just AFTER his death...

Impressive, but, as you will see, impossible, according to the follow-up book I'm publishing: There Is No Afterlife "by" Pope John Paul II.

Karol -- I call him Karol -- totally sent the manuscript to me by Papal flying-monkey-gram after he discovered secret research into the Philosopher's Stone conducted by Albertus Magnus that was hidden deep under the Apostolic Palace's wine cellar by 14th century Opus Dei ninjas. "Wait two and a half years after I die to reveal this shocking truth to the world, Jean-Paul," Karol wrote to me. Being Karol's closest confidant, I honored his request.

I have no information about Flew's state beyond what I saw in Carrier's pieces, but this reminds me of other cases I've heard of when declining, emotionally distressed, chronically ill people became emotionally and otherwise completely dependent on a caregiver who happened to be devout.

By John Emerson (not verified) on 08 Nov 2007 #permalink

Re: jpf @9, 10, 12:

PZ, can somebody be given an Instant Molly? A knighthood on the battlefield, as it were? Because jpf so deserves one.

I enjoyed Carrier's rebuttal article. He makes some well reasoned points, and I agree with him. But I think he should tone down shilling for his books just a bit.

By Brendan S (not verified) on 08 Nov 2007 #permalink

Brendan -

It is his own website after all. I see nothing wrong with pumping up your own work on your own website. And he's not "shilling", as a shill is an associate of the person who has something to sell, and promotes the product as if they were in fact completely detached and a disinterested third party.

I know its a little soon, but where is Flew's response to all this? Why is he still letting Varghese respond for him?

On the evangelical side, damage control is under-way with a "doubt the doubters" campaign. Not based on any facts, but then, what in Christianity is?

By Ryan F Stello (not verified) on 08 Nov 2007 #permalink

Before the kool-aide is passed around here:

"Here is Antony Flew's response to the claim, made in the NY Times magazine article, that he did not write the book (from a press release issued by the publisher 11/7/2007):

'My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 percent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I'm 84 and that was Roy Varghese's role. The idea that someone manipulated me because I'm old is exactly wrong. I may be old but it is hard to manipulate me. This is my book and it represents my thinking.' "

I'm sorry for using the wrong word to describe his actions.

I still think he mentions his books to the point where I don't want to buy them cause he's pushing them so hard.

By Brendan S (not verified) on 08 Nov 2007 #permalink

BTW, i've got Carrier's book and have read it cover to cover. I recommend it for any atheist who's interested in philosophy. I'm taking it a philosophy course right now and use it as a reference for nearly every paper i've had to write so far.

@ #18

Before the kool-aide is passed around here...

Is this slashdot? RTFA. It directly refutes the press release.

By heliobates (not verified) on 08 Nov 2007 #permalink

Observer, do you have a real source for that, or did you cut and paste from that rather suspicious Amazon review.

Why is there no official release from Harper-Collins?
Makes your kool-aid remark a tad ironic.

By Ryan F Stello (not verified) on 08 Nov 2007 #permalink

Antony Flew said:

'My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 percent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I'm 84 and that was Roy Varghese's role. The idea that someone manipulated me because I'm old is exactly wrong. I may be old but it is hard to manipulate me. This is my book and it represents my thinking.' "

I wonder if Hostetler ghost wrote that too?

This is telling anyone more about fundie Xians than how easy it is to exploit very old men with failing minds. Not a pretty picture.

Not sure how much mileage they are getting out of this. I never heard of Andrew Flew who is apparently a British philosopher in his 80's and one of 6.7 billion people on the planet. Why should I care?

I got an email from David Kennedy formally of Coral Ridge ministeries and now deceased. He says it is hot where he is but it is a dry heat. Also, he is scheduled to be reincarnated soon as a cockroach. We are coming out with a book, called, "Be Nice To Insects, Because You Never Know".

>>got an email from David Kennedy formally of Coral Ridge ministeries and now deceased. He says it is hot where he is but it is a dry heat. Also, he is scheduled to be reincarnated soon as a cockroach. We are coming out with a book, called, "Be Nice To Insects, Because You Never Know"<<

so archy is returning "he has risen!"

http://www.donmarquis.com/archy/

By uncle frogy (not verified) on 08 Nov 2007 #permalink

That Flew "quote" - Flew may be senile, but I still can't believe that he would write anything that inelegant (especially given his background in Oxford linguistic philosophy). "It represents exactly my opinions" isn't something a man of Flew's age and education would write.

Why all this excitement about Flew's conversion, real or false?

It's not as if atheism is a cult led by an infallible guru upon whose guidance we all rely. I became an atheist long before I'd heard of Flew, and I doubt if I've read more than a few hundred words by him.

This excitement about Flew's flip flops only makes sense if you think authority rather than evidence and reason should determine your belief.

By Kiwi Dave (not verified) on 09 Nov 2007 #permalink

Hey Kiwi,

You must not have been paying attention.
I'd say that most of us don't care about Flew's views on anything (I know I don't), but do care about exposing the liars for Jesus.

Are you still confused?

By Ryan F Stello (not verified) on 09 Nov 2007 #permalink

>>got an email from David Kennedy formally of Coral Ridge ministeries and now deceased. He says it is hot where he is but it is a dry heat. Also, he is scheduled to be reincarnated soon as a cockroach. We are coming out with a book, called, "Be Nice To Insects, Because You Never Know"<<

so archy is returning "he has risen!"

http://www.donmarquis.com/archy/

By uncle frogy (not verified) on 08 Nov 2007 #permalink