In December 2004, a famous atheist and academic startled the scholarly world when he made the announcement that he had accepted the existence of God, largely due to his study of DNA.
“What I think the DNA material has done is show that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinary diverse elements together,” said Professor Antony Flew, 81, of the University of Reading, United Kingdom. “It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose” (Richard Ostling, “Leading Atheist Now Believes in God,” Associated Press report, Dec. 9, 2004).
Professor Flew is arguably the best-known atheist in the academic world of the last 50 years. He helped set the agenda for atheism with his paper “Theology and Falsification,” considered the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last half century. “Flew is one of the most renowned atheists of the 20th century … ,” says the atheist writer Richard Carrier. “So if he has changed his mind to any degree, whatever you may think of his reasons, the event itself is certainly newsworthy” (“Antony Flew Considers God … Sort of,” December 2004, www.infidels.org).
Professor Flew mentions that his mind began to change for the existence of God and against atheism over the last year. One line of evidence that became a clincher was the biological investigation of DNA. He says in the video “Has Science Discovered God?” that DNA evidence “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce [life], that intelligence must have been involved.”
He later wrote to Richard Carrier, “My one and only piece of relevant evidence [for belief in God] is the apparent impossibility of providing a naturalistic theory of the origin from DNA of the first reproducing species.”
According to the Associated Press report, Professor Flew’s “current ideas have some similarity with American ‘intelligent design’ theorists, who see evidence for a guiding force in the construction of the universe.” In an interview in the Winter 2004 issue of Philosophia Christi , the journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Professor Flew said, ‘I think that the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries … I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.”
The Sunday Times of Britain also stated: “Darwin’s theory of evolution does not explain the origin and development of life to Flew’s satisfaction. ‘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 extraordinary complicated creature,’ he said. The article went on to explain that Professor Flew is, in his words, “following the argument wherever it leads. The conclusion is—there must have been some intelligence.”
While Professor Flew is quick to state that he doesn’t view God as a personal being who interacts with mankind, he nonetheless apologizes for the effect his atheistic views had on others. The article quotes him as saying: “As people have certainly been influenced by me, I want to try and correct the enormous damage I may have done” (Stuart Wavell and Will Iredale, “Sorry, Says Atheist-in-Chief, I Do Believe in God After All,” Dec. 12, 2004).
Although late, the apology is welcomed.