An intellectual bombshell dropped last week when British professor Antony Flew, for decades one of the world’s leading philosophers of atheism, publicly announced that he now affirms the existence of a deity.
To be sure, Mr. Flew has not become an adherent of any creed. He simply believes that science points to the existence of some sort of intelligent designer of the universe. He says evidence from DNA research convinces him that the genetic structure of biological life is too complex to have evolved entirely on its own. Though the 81-year-old philosopher believes Darwinian theory explains a lot, he contends that it cannot account for how life initially began.
We found this conversion interesting in light of last year’s controversy regarding proposed revisions to the state’s high school biology textbooks. Our view then was that while religion must be kept out of science classes, intellectual honesty demands that when science produces reliable data challenging the prevailing orthodoxies, students should be taught them.
We were bothered by Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin’s statement that for scientists, materialism must be “absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” That’s called stacking the deck.
Mr. Flew may be dead wrong, but it’s refreshing to see that an academic of his stature is unafraid to let new facts change his mind. The philosopher told The Associated Press that if admirers are upset with his about-face, then “that’s too bad. My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.”
If the scientific data are compelling enough to cause an atheist academic of Antony Flew’s reputation to recant much of his life’s work, why shouldn’t Texas schoolchildren be taught the controversy?