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Monday, July 28, 2008

Ray's latest self-embarassment - the story of Antony Flew

Here's the latest on "Atheist Central":
"It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design." Antony Flew (Professor of Philosophy, former atheist, author and debater)
Interesting. I was naturally intrigued to see what sort of materials Flew considered an argument for design, and whether this meant Flew was accepting the existence of the Christian god, or merely a "god" that does nothing more than fulfill the requirements of a First Cause argument. So, I did a little research.

Fortunately, over at the Secular Web Kiosk, Richard Carrier does a truly excellent job of running down this controversy, start to finish, with exactly the information I was looking for. The article is a bit long, but I highly recommend reading it in its entirety. In the interim, here are some highly relevant snippets:
The fact of the matter is: Flew hasn't really decided what to believe. He affirms that he is not a Christian--he is still quite certain that the Gods of Christianity or Islam do not exist, that there is no revealed religion, and definitely no afterlife of any kind (he stands by everything he argued in his 2001 book Merely Mortal: Can You Survive Your Own Death?). But he is increasingly persuaded that some sort of Deity brought about this universe, though it does not intervene in human affairs, nor does it provide any postmortem salvation.

Antony Flew has retracted one of his recent assertions. In a letter to me dated 29 December 2004, Flew concedes:
"I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction."
In the meantime, Flew wrote "My 'Conversion'" for the Autumn 2005 issue of Think (pp. 75-84), the only article Flew himself has ever written about his conversion. This article is so confused and unclear that in it he fails to affirm belief in any God and actually suggests he is still an atheist.
It's funny how Ray fails to mention any of this, but instead cherry-picks one statement from Flew. Does Ray know that Flew still emphatically denies the existence of the Christian God? Does he care? And will the Raytards do even the most cursory of research themselves this time around, or will they just accept Ray's word as Gospel (again)?

32 comments:

  1. I don't think he cares.

    I think, according to him, any thought experiment which accepts a god of any sort will invariably lead to God. It's THAT obvious to him. A fundy friend of mine once said "you can believe in any religion you want, because every religion is a stepping stone to Jesus."

    To Ray and his ilk, the idea of Jesus As Lord is just so blindingly CORRECT that any alternative is utter foolishness. That is, unless it seems to be leading you to Jesus, an the fundies view Flew as a victory of Christ, since he left atheism and is exploring the idea of Gods. Which means he will stumble upon the obvious truth and repent.

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  2. Here's a question for the other Raytractors?

    Should one of us go over and inform the posters at "Atheist Central" that there's a lot more info to be found on this subject over here?

    If so, how do we go about doing it? Links are verboten on "Atheist Central" (since that would allow participants to substantiate their arguments, and an argument based on facts is anathema to Ray and his Raytards). Also, I'm pretty sure that any post containing the word "ratytactors" would likewise meet a speedy demise in Ray's /dev/nul.

    Any ideas?

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  3. Christians seem so impressed by atheist conversions. The so called conversions by Kirk Cameron, Lee Strobel, C.S. Lewis, and all the other nuts coming out of the woodwork don't demonstrate anything other than some people find this compelling. Frankly, I don't care who believes or doesn't believe, this religious shit doesn't make sense in my mind, so I don't believe it.

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  4. tripmaster,

    You could give it a try. Who knows?

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Clos sez:

    You could give it a try. Who knows?

    OK, I have done just that. Here is the text of my post: ___________________________________

    Just so everyone knows, we're discussing the same subject over at raytractors.blogspot.com, and there's a few other quotes of Antony Flew that Ray somehow failed to mention:

    "I do not think I will ever make that assertion, precisely because any assertion which I am prepared to make about God would not be about a God in that sense ... I think we need here a fundamental distinction between the God of Aristotle or Spinoza and the Gods of the Christian and the Islamic Revelations."

    "I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction."


    Funny, how these quotes kinda put Flew's "conversion" in a different light, isn't it?

    Please don't bother replying to this post here. I'll be busy talking part in the real discussion.
    ___________________________________

    So, will this post make it past Ray's "moderation"? I give it 1 in 5 odds. Any takers?

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  8. Trip,

    I think it is a good idea, as one of the Christians over there actually said to me a couple of months ago that Flew was now a Christian. I can't remember which one it was that said that.

    If Ray does not accept your comment, then try doing it this way:

    So that you are not rejected in moderation for trying to post a link, write out the name of this blog as raytractors dot blogspot dot com. That way it won't show up as a link and I think it might get through.

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  9. Or, just say:
    "Google 'Raytractors' for a discussion on this."

    It is the first hit.

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  10. Well, it looks as if Ray did indeed censor my post. I'll try again, omitting the actual address, as Dust and Dale recommended.

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  11. Yes. I seriously want some of the CHRISTians over at Rays to see this. That way, they can become more skeptical about what Ray posts.

    Great Job TMM.

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  12. Thanks, Ranting.

    Just FYI, here is the text of the second comment:
    _____________________________________

    Just so everyone knows, we're discussing the same subject over at the Raytractors blog (google "Raytractors" to locate us), and there's a few other quotes of Antony Flew that Ray somehow failed to mention:

    "I do not think I will ever make that assertion, precisely because any assertion which I am prepared to make about God would not be about a God in that sense ... I think we need here a fundamental distinction between the God of Aristotle or Spinoza and the Gods of the Christian and the Islamic Revelations."

    "I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction."


    Funny, how these quotes kinda put Flew's "conversion" in a different light, isn't it?
    ___________________________________

    As you can see, this second comment contains nothing even resembling a URL. It also conforms to all of Ray's other comment restrictions (contains no "cuss words", blasphemy, incivility, or failure to give
    the name "God" or "Jesus" capitals).

    It will be interesting to see if this comment makes it through. If it doesn't, I believe I'll have to write a post here regarding Ray's perfidious censorship. ;)

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  13. BTW, have any of the Raytractors been able contact steven j. about joining us here?

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  14. I always thought it was Mudskipper's other name (didn't you go by Steven J. Mudskipper for a bit?)... hmm... we should get him over here, same with jg.

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  15. Nice work TMM, I think every new post of Ray's blog should have that message (with something on-topic to justify its inclusion) posted to it as a continual reminder of where the real discussion is taking place.

    I agree that we need to get Dimensio, Steven J. and others over here; they're doing a good job of patiently refuting the bullshit (honestly, the stoicism in the face of ignorance is astounding!) but the comment numbers would really drop if they left and it might just draw a few lurkers our way as well....

    Their choice, of course; herding cats and all that...

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  16. TMM-

    I see your post made it through the wall at Ray's. It will be interesting to see who shows up here.

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  17. Oh, you're right!
    Now, hopefully some can see this. Just to see, HEY, you're a christian okay. But just be warned that Ray Comfort resorts to lying and quote mining sometimes...

    We're actually endorsing critical thinking.

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  18. Ray and company often make the mistake of thinking there are two options, atheism and Christianity. They think if they can convince us there is a god, we will by default believe in Jeezus.

    TMM,
    Good idea and good luck getting that comment through at Ray's.

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  19. Ahahaha, someone posted on the thread as "science degree guy."

    Brilliant.

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  20. And there it is! What a surprise. I was anticipating a comment from Ray about there being too much cussin' coming out of your heathen mouth as he quietly hid you comment under a stack of Chick tracts!

    I think the 'sticky' post is a good idea - we need a place where newcomers can introduce themselves and feel at home.

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  21. "I was anticipating a comment from Ray about there being too much cussin' coming out of your heathen mouth as he quietly hid you comment under a stack of Chick tracts!"

    *falls out of chair laughing* OMG jack chick, he takes the term "cranky/crazy old man" to a whole new level.

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  22. Jack Chick always depicts atheists as some angry, pissed off at only the Christian God, college professor with a hitler mustache and deranged eyes who gets a hard on when speaking down to young innocent Christians.

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  23. Jack Chick hates everybody, it's hilarious. One track that really stood out in my mind was one about how bible people made all the dinosaurs extinct. They could catch the dinosaurs because after the flood the atmosphere wasn't right for dinosaurs and they couldn't run fast. Assuming all that's true why would a t-rex even need to run, couldn't he just turn around and eat his attackers? I think jack gets a hard on thinking about life with dinosaurs.

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  24. Ha ha ha.
    I like the one with the atheist professor talking down on the christian boy, then the christian boy stumps the professor. after the professor leaves in fury, the christian boy evangelizes without any problems, and everybody gets saved...

    ...and the evolution one.

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  25. Oh man, that's too funny, I gotta read more tracks. I haven't seen those tracks you speak of, but what jack says is so true, often if you ask us atheists a hard question we'll give up and become Christians. Happens all the time, look at Ray's blog, he's convinced so many.

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  26. Ouch!
    Euaggelion just got his ass kicked by Dimensio.
    Euaggelion said,

    "You don't need a degree in Biology to realize there is a God. Just common sense."

    Dimensio responded,
    "Declaring that a position is "common sense" is not logically equivalent to supporting a position with evidence. Declaring that a position is "common sense" is actually an appeal to the "poisoning the well" fallacy, as you are attempting to imply that those who reject your position lack "common sense" as a means of impugning their credibility in lieu of providing an argument in support of your position."

    Good job!

    Also, Tripmaster Monkey's new comment made it through.

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  27. They must be watching us pretty close to have already picked up on the "science degree guy" comment.

    Science degree guy is defending the faith and I'll bet a hundred bucks I know who it is.

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  28. I think Ray Comfort knows at most Flew would say he;s a deist, and I'm certain he doesn't care. Look at the masthead for Comfort's blog. He published a whole padded tract (Evolution: The Fairy Tale for Grownups) that I'm sure is full of quote mining. Using Flew or Einstein or whoever is the argument from authority. And it works on the ignorant and those too lazy to research something themselves, or too scared to find out they might be wrong. Ray Comfort knows. He may not know he knows, but he knows. And for sure he doesn't care.

    I though steven j's response to the flew post was good, but I'd still like for those non-believers who are still posting there to at least take a short break.

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  29. I think you overestimate Ray's intellectual diligence. I'm sure he just posts quotes from some Christian site or database he uses, or something his followers send him. I don't know if Ray knows Flew's position on deism.

    If Ray did know, it wouldn't stop him from using it anyway or his sheep from swallowing it, so I don't think he would take the time to check it out.

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  30. I'm not Steven J.
    Although my first name is steve and I did use Stevemudskipper (just too complicated).

    I think Terry likes me secretly. He probably lurks on my blog.

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  31. Ha ha. he probably has us on his blogroll. or RSS feed.

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  32. coincidentally my name is steve J.

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Unlike Ray we don't censor our comments, so as long as it's on topic and not spam, fire away.

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