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I Liked the Old Atheists Better

Philosopher Antony Flew used to be the most prominent atheist in the English-speaking world. In the last decade, however, that has changed. Unlike Flew, who has always been civil and insightful, a new breed of atheists, who are crass and unruly, has supplanted him, notably, Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins. Also, Flew is no longer an atheist. Flew’s newfound belief in God and his assessment of today’s neo-atheism are both described in his delightful new book (coauthored with Roy Varghese), There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

Throughout his philosophical career (going back to the late 1940s, when he rubbed shoulders with C. S. Lewis), Flew was committed to following evidence wherever it leads. Late in life, he found that advances in science made the evidence for design in the universe so compelling that he could no longer withhold belief in God. Flew’s God — a deistic God — is not quite the Christian God of his teacher Lewis. Then again, given Flew’s inclusion in There Is a God of an essay on the Resurrection by N. T. Wright, God seems hardly finished with Flew’s conversion.

The contrast between Flew and his neo-atheist successors is stark. In his atheist days, Flew took not only his atheism but also the theism of his opponents seriously. He understood and engaged their positions; he always recognized that here was a debate of real intellectual merit worth having. Indeed, Flew’s challenge to theism was so insightful that he helped catalyze a distinctly Christian movement of philosophers. Headed by Alvin Plantinga and William Alston, their impact on philosophy has been immense.

The neo-atheists, unlike the old Flew, characterize religious belief as a “poison” that needs to be “eradicated” and those who subscribe to it as “mentally deranged.” Instead of engaging the arguments of theists and admitting difficulties in their own position (for instance, atheism requires a materialistic origin of life, yet all indicators suggest that the information-rich structures of life require a designing intelligence), they issue blanket dismissals of religion. Flew was a rich and varied atheist. The neo-atheists, by contrast, are militant and amateurish.

And vile. In his November 4, 2007 article for the New York Times (“The Turning of an Atheist”), Mark Oppenheimer attributes Flew’s conversion to a combination of senility on Flew’s part and manipulation by Christian evangelicals. This is despicable. I was on the committee to award Flew the Phillip Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth (which he received at Biola University in the spring of 2006). I made the telephone call to Flew on behalf of Biola asking him to agree to accept the award. When I spoke to him, it was clear to me that he was in full possession of his faculties and that he knew full well the cost he was paying for breaking ranks with his atheist colleagues.

Flew as an atheist and now as a theist has always exemplified integrity. I learned this not merely from his writings but also first-hand: when Baylor University, under pressure from Darwinian materialists (like Dawkins), shut down a center for intelligent design research that I directed (the Michael Polanyi Center), Flew protested to the Baylor administration defending my academic freedom and the center’s work — work that opposed atheism. That was back in 2001 while Flew was still an atheist.

God bless Antony Flew!

—————————————-
Antony Flew and HarperCollins Respond to the New York Times article:

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.”

Harper One deputy publisher Mark Tauber adds, “We stand behind this book. Roy Varghese took Tony’s thoughts and put them in publishable form. This is not an unusual practice.” Tauber adds, “Unfortunately, the NYT Magazine writer generalized from Flew’s aphasia to senility–which is far from accurate. Additionally, the NYT writer completely skipped the philosophical content of the book, dismissing Tony’s arguments for God’s existence in one word, calling it ‘pseudoscience’ and so insulting both Tony and anyone persuaded that these arguments might be true.”

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51 Responses to I Liked the Old Atheists Better

  1. Old athiests or new, they’re all going to the same place. But I suppose you’re practicing the “love the sinner hate the sin”. You’re a better man than I.

    God bless you, Dr. Dembski.

  2. From what I’ve read of him, Flew has always stood out as distinct from the rest of the atheist pack (certainly the New Atheists, and from a number of the older atheists.) Particularly that while he was an atheist, he didn’t see theism as some terrible evil, still openly admired some religious (even Christian) figures, and was generally a civil, thoughtful man.

    Flew has given interviews and seems well aware of the positions he’s taking, and what they mean both philosophically and politically. Apparently whenever he seems to show sympathy to atheism (As the Times article with Richard Carrier suggests), Flew is in full mental form. Whenever he shows sympathy to theism, well, that’s the senility showing itself.

    If it’s about the arguments, then Flew’s should be easy to brush aside if the atheist claim is to be believed (namely, that Flew is out of touch.) The fact that some are going for the smear approach shows a vulnerability: Arguing against deism is tough, and science has made it tougher. Traditional theistic views are able to be strongly defended, even suggested, but deism is more basic and tougher to oppose from an atheistic (even a scientific) standpoint as a result – and I suspect that having a major proponent of deism in the 21st century spooks many atheists more than merely losing a prominent atheist from their number.

  3. Nochange wrote

    Old athiests or new, they’re all going to the same place.

    There but for the grace of God, Nochange, there but for the grace of God. :)

  4. I presume that I am not the only one who is tired of their constant proselytizing?

  5. An atheist with dignity and respect?
    “There is a God!”

  6. No Change in regards to this statement:

    Old atheists or new, they’re all going to the same place.

    It is not as automatic as you think…foundational beliefs, we gathered as children, seem to matter a lot in the grand scheme of things….

    Take Howard storm for instance,,,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Storm

    excerpted:

    He was taken to a Paris hospital, but no surgeons were available, and he suffered for a significant amount of time in deteriorating condition due to the hospital staff not realizing the severity of his medical situation. He ultimately would be diagnosed with peritonitis.

    Storm describes that he felt he was dying, and after saying goodbye to his wife, eventually passed out. He was a life-long atheist and contemptuous of spiritual matters, but found himself outside of his body. He says he was drawn by voices calling his name and followed them, but eventually realized that he was being led into darkness and the creatures were malevolent. They turned on him and attacked him savagely, and his NDE became a negative experience, rather than the type of NDE typified by a “being of light” or sensations of peace and calm. His book chronicles an experience that involved being torn to pieces by the creatures, yet he retained consciousness and experienced severe pain.

    He says that at one point though he felt a voice within him instruct him to “Pray to God”. He resisted and realized he did not know how to pray, but began to recite fragments of religious material. Though rote recitals, the effect on the creatures was that it drove them away. He then describes that he was rescued by a being of light that he believes was Jesus, and was approached by others as well. He experienced a life review, which highlighted the selfishness of his life, but the beings of light expressed unconditional love throughout it.

    His book describes how the experience had a transformative effect on him, and he became devoutly religious and entered the seminary to become a minister of Zion United Church Of Christ. He has made a number of appearances on television to describe his NDE.

    Howard Storm is no longer the Pastor of Zion United Church of Christ. He is presently the Pastor of the Covington United Church of Christ in Covington, Ohio.

    The link has several 10 minute videos that give his testimony. It is very interesting, to watch, to say the least.

    I can guarantee you that he was not calling on Buddha to save him when he finally prayed.

    So I think our job is to keep hammering hard on atheists and unbelievers of all religions, no matter what they say they believe on the outside, for we could very well be planting a deep enough belief that will save them from torment.

    By the way, this is view of hell is not a stand alone event, but is commonly reported in the majority of NDE studies of non-Judeo-Christian cultures, and in also found in a minority of Judeo-Christian NDE studies. (Most Judeo-Christian Culture report positive experiences.)

  7. “I presume that I am not the only one who is tired of their constant proselytizing?”

    What are they trying to save us from, anyway?

  8. While I agree with everything Dr. Dembski says above, I think it’s worth pondering just why today’s atheism presents such a contrast with the generation so well represented by Anthony Flew. I certainly do not claim to have all the answers, but a few ideas come quickly to mind.
    1. Uncivil ad hominem rants are the lingua franca of the blogosphere, as we’re all too aware.
    2. Neo-Darwinism is looking more vulnerable by the day, particularly the ultra views of people like R. Dawkins.
    3. The “new” atheism has many characteristics of a movement, including T-shirts, self-congratulatory conferences, web sites, etc. As such, atheism is becoming (has become) a fully irrational force, like countless other movements from the past.
    4. Most significantly, I believe, is the ever lurking fear of another 9/11. This is perhaps an exaggeration, but if one were to replace all references to “religion” in the many anti-religious diatribes with something like “Islamist” or “Jihadist”, I’m afraid there would be a lot more sympathy for the new atheist point of view. The historians of the new atheism will no doubt bring more clarity to this issue, but I don’t see how anyone could fail to see the significance of what happened at the WTC.

  9. Well said, Dr. Dembski. Well said.

  10. Off topic, but it’s not clear where to report bugs. The ads on this site which normally appear in the rightmost column are bumped to the bottom of the middle column whenever a comment in that column contains a string too wide for the column (usually a URL). Can this be fixed?

  11. What are they trying to save us from, anyway?

    Save us from? Deliver us to is more the question. I’m sure behind closed doors that these “atheists” are really Satanists. They won’t be happy until we’re all minions of Lucifer.

  12. I would classify myself as an agnostic… but I agree, the new atheists are quite fond of ad hominem attacks and remedial arguements… They are even now forming as a religious sect…

    Unfortunately, this sometimes makes them look smart- they are constantly on the offense and have arguments in their belt. They belittle their opponents so much that they look like the only rational group (form a lot of false dicotemys)- no one likes to feel dumb, or be perceived as dumb.

    While the new atheists are not as deep, I think their method is more “productive”- espically amongst my peers (18-25). This age group is not known for it’s intelligence, but rather impulsive moves to feel “smart”.

    Trust me, I really wish there was a God- and I constantly search, but so far I am still undecided. I hope I am wrong, I hope there is a God and I hope that the evidence leads me that way.

    As for Antony Flew- he is being bashed beyond belief. I have the utmost respect for him, anyone who can stand by his beliefs rationally like he is doing is a man who deserves respect.

  13. bork said:

    “Trust me, I really wish there was a God- and I constantly search, but so far I am still undecided. I hope I am wrong, I hope there is a God and I hope that the evidence leads me that way.”

    bork, a sincere prayer asking for God to reveal Himself personally to you is a great place to start. I believe He won’t turn away anyone who approaches honestly with a little humility, especially if you’re open to accepting the truth of Jesus Christ.

    The prayers of those on this board wouldn’t hurt either ;). On that note, Flew is on my prayer list. I’ll look forward to seeing him and bork in heaven. :D

  14. In my opinion we are entering a post-secular, post-Darwinist, post-materialism era. Interestingly, Flew, in the autumn of his life, represents this sea change, because he has been honest enough to follow the evidence where it leads.

    Materialistic science is very powerful and has been responsible for many great achievements, but it is clearly not capable of explaining everything, especially the things that matter most to most people: like where did we come from, where are we going, why are we here, what is right and what is wrong?

    Ironically, scientific discoveries of the past century have put nails in the coffin of materialism. The eternal, self-existent universe, with no need of a cause, is dead. The “random” universe is dead; our universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for the purpose of allowing life. The Darwinian mechanism as an explanation for the diversity, complexity, engineering, and information content of living systems is dead.

    All indicators are that the universe and living things are the product of purpose and design.

    Get used to it.

  15. Bork — Trust me, I really wish there was a God- and I constantly search,

    There is nothing wrong with honest skepticism.

    I often think one won’t find God until one finds love.

    The fact of love can’t be proved but is true nonetheless. Just like God.

  16. I appreciate this post a great deal.
    I read Flew’s book in one day, with my ever-ready yellow highlighter hard at work.
    Most of the arguments from order to design are pretty old hat for people with an interest in ID, but Flew’s discussion of abiogenesis was enlightening. I’m sure it is only my own ignorance that makes his a novel point, but approaching the problem of teleology and life as a philosophical conundrum really struck a chord.

    While we are praying for Flew it wouldn’t hurt (although they would scoff at the idea) to pray for Dawkins and the other neos as well.

  17. Is that bit about Flew’s response to Oppenheimer an update? Why didn’t I see that?

    Thanks very much for that information as well.

  18. It’s plain and simple, Mr. Flew ran out of mental landscape to explore and there was only one solution that could expand the horizon for him. He was a step ahead of the crowd before and he’s still a step ahead now.

  19. I think many atheists have turned to sound bite fascism because they sense the weight of their impending intellectual doom.

  20. [...] Descent Level Four Tornado Through Kentucky Junk Yard Self Assembles Lime Green Hummer.I Liked the Old Atheists BetterO?Leary on radio today, [...]

  21. Thanks for the update. I had a feeling Flew wouldn’t sit by and let the NYT review run without comment – I noticed that the entire content of their interview with Flew consisted of pointing out what he didn’t remember. Anything he could remember, any arguments he could provide, utterly skipped.

    And I’m in agreement with Charlie. As hard as it is, we should be praying and hoping for the conversion of Dawkins, Harris, even Hitchens. And not just to take one more atheist off the attack, but for their own well-being too. At least in the Christian tradition (and likely others), we’re called to have strong hopes for our worst enemies.

    Not that anyone needs preaching from ME of all people. Just seconding someone else’s charitable view here.

  22. Bornagain77, I’m curious if you’ve read Deepak Chopra or the site http://www.near-death.com

    I don’t like either. They are far too pluralistic and New Agey (“Everybody’s right!”). In fact, I wish I never read Chopra; he made me feel very uncomfortable. But he and that website both address death and NDE’s, and I’m just wondering if you’ve looked into them.

  23. Berceuse,
    No I haven’t read Deepak Chopra …and the other link was cut off on my page,,,

    But a comment on the NDE phenomena,,,Is that I’ve failed to find any positive ones (for ad^ ults) that could not be traced back to the foundational belief system found in Judeo/Christian cultures…

    The Hindu accounts consist of having a “foreboding official” read bits and pieces of the person’s life (called the “akashic record”) and also consists of the person having deep remorse for not living a better life. No mention is ever made of the “Being of Light” or of overwhelming love and forgiveness that comes from the “Being of Light” in any of these Hindu “life-review” accounts (Murphy 99). In his study of Thailand, Murphy points out that many times the “foreboding official” reading the life review is anything but a “Loving Being of Light”. He states many times the “official” reading the life review, in non-western accounts, is notorious for his power to condemn people to hell. In Hindu circles, it is a traditional belief that the reading of a person’s akashic record occurs immediately after . This concept is widely believed by Hindus all over India. Though, there are a minority of somewhat “pleasant” NDEs for ad^ ults in the India cases, it should be noted that these “pleasant” ad^ ult Hindu NDEs lack the stunning depth of beauty and overwhelming feelings of love and forgiveness from “The Being of Light” that are commonly reported in the majority of Judeo-Christian NDEs. There are a few exceptions to this preponderance of negative NDES in India. I found a few very pleasant children’s NDEs from India which compare favorably to Judeo-Christian NDEs. These include a reference to “The Being of Light”. The fact that young Hindu children see “The Light” while the Hindu s do not see “The Light”, clearly indicates the false beliefs we gather as we become s drastically influences the ad^ ults having a negative NDE. I have a feeling, as our knowledge grows, that a few of the NDEs from other cultures will have a few “special” ad^ ults who experience “The Light”, but it seems certain this will prove to be a rare exception, instead of the norm, for any ad^ ult in a non-Judeo-Christian culture.
    The NDE reports from Tibet (a Buddhist country) are even more disturbing than the ones I’ve read from India (a Hindu country). Though there are some references to seeing lights in these accounts, the Buddhist NDEr never encounters “The Being of Light”. The typical Tibetan NDEr emphasizes remorse, pain, fear, disappointment and disillusionment as does the Indian experiencer. Yet, the typical Judeo-Christian NDEr emphasizes overwhelming feelings of peace, forgiveness, comfort, painlessness and love.

    Sometimes positive NDErs from a Judeo-Christian culture are also adamant about emphasizing we should be loving and tolerant of all religions from all other cultures. A few even change “religions” from Christianity to what they view is a more “spiritual” eastern religion. But then why do the hard facts of the NDE studies themselves betray this open tolerance of all religions? Do not be deceived for they are only searching for a deeper spiritual connection to the true God. They do not realize that the true God is only found in Judeo-Christian beliefs. They are right to seek a deeper spiritual connection with God, yet they are very wrong to search through false pagan religions to find it. According to all afterlife studies I’ve seen it does indeed matter in what and in Whom you believe when you die! The NDEs themselves testify to this fact! It is my assertion, from the evidence that I’ve seen so far, that the Judeo/Christian belief system is by far the most desirable belief system one could have when facing imminent and that a purely Eastern philosophy is one of the most dangerous philosophies one could have. Until I see conclusive and rigorous evidence that indicates otherwise, I will not apologize for saying the Eastern religions are false pagan religions that are extremely dangerous to whomever holds their beliefs while facing impending . This may seem harsh but it is honest.

    John 5:24-25
    “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from into life.“

    I also find it extremely interesting, the examination of the Shroud of Turin indicates that it was indeed some type of “Super-natural Light” that scientists are not familiar with, which imprinted the image of the Man on the Shroud of Turin. Not only is the Light that made the image found to be supernatural, the image of the Man on the Shroud was imprinted on the Shroud by “Super-natural Light” that came directly from the body itself! Yes, you read that last sentence right. The “Supernatural Light”, that had to be used to make the image of the man on the Shroud, came directly from the body itself!!!
    This “Being of Bright Brilliant Pure Light” that is always referred to as God and is such a prominent feature of the Judeo-Christian NDE’s and of the Judeo-Christian Bible is, by all reasonable indications and logic, the same omniscient “Being of Bright Brilliant Pure Light” that was responsible for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, as evidenced by detailed scientific examination of the image of the Man on the Shroud of Turin.

    John 10:17-18
    While he was speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him.”

    Sources:

    Life after Life by Raymond Moody

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington

    India Cross-cultural study by Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia Medical School and Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India

    Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India, reports findings of another survey of NDEs conducted in a region of southern India. A population of 17,192 persons was surveyed and 2,207 respondents were interviewed for identification of NDE cases. Twenty-six persons were reported to have died and revived; 16 (62%) of these having had NDEs. Thus the prevalence rate of NDEs is found to be less than 1% for the general population of India. Whereas the rate in America is commonly given to be 5% for the general population.

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999: the following is an excepted passage from his paper
    NDEs manifested within certain, special, groups have been studied that reveal typical variations. Pediatric NDEs (Morse, 1985), and those of pre-literate cultures, as well as those of India (Pasricha, 1986), Africa (Morse, 1992) have all been looked at, and patterns have been discerned in each group. However, the most common approach to discussing their typical features has been to compare them to the typical Western NDE; to the pattern shown in the Ring Scale. We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.

    The Gallup poll in 1992 was of U.S. s, and found 5% had NDE: .05 = (number of those surveyed with a prior history of NDE)/(total number surveyed). That equates to 15 million of a population of 300 million

    The Seattle Study; Pediatrics by Dr. Melvin Morse and Kimberly Clark Sharp

    Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in a Melanesian Society by Dorothy E. Counts

    There seem to be great cultural differences in beliefs about NDEs. In an Australian study, 58 percent of participants interpreted an NDE vignette as possible evidence of life after and 15 percent thought they were dreams or hallucinations. (Kellehear & Heaven, 1989). This is in stark contrast to a Chinese study in which 58 percent believed they were dreams or hallucinations and 9 percent believed they were evidence of life after (Kellehear, Heaven, & Gao, 1990)

    Several studies (Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86) & Kellehear, 1993) Murphy 1999,2001) have indicated that the phenomenologies of NDEs is culture-bound.

    Researching Muslim NDEs, on the web at the NDERF home page, I find that there are only a handful of Muslim NDE experiences out of the thousands of NDE’s they have listed on their web site. There is only one really deep Muslim NDE in which there is a reference to “the Light”. Not surprisingly, this NDE occurred to a teenage boy. In the handful of somewhat deep Muslim NDEs that I have read about, the Muslim NDES never mentioned “the Light”, “Supreme Being” or a “Being of Light”. If this holds steady for all Muslim NDEs, then this will fall into stark contrast to the majority of deep Judeo/Christian NDE testimonies of s for the western world.

    The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of `going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific s, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves. (Murphy 99)

    The Holy Bible by various Authors under the inspiration of God

    Greyson and Bush (1996) classified 50 Western reports of distressing NDEs into three types:
    * The most common type included the same features as the pleasurable type such as an out-of-body experience and rapid movement through a tunnel or void toward a light but the NDEr, usually because of feeling out of control of what was happening, experienced the features as frightening.
    * The second, less common type included an acute awareness of nonexistence or of being completely alone forever in an absolute void. Sometimes the person received a totally convincing message that the real world including themselves never really existed. (note* according to one preliminary study , a similar type of this NDE may be common among the Buddhist culture in Chinese NDEs)
    * The third and rarest type included hellish imagery such as an ugly or foreboding landscape; demonic beings; loud, annoying noises; frightening animals; and other beings in extreme distress. Only rarely have such NDErs themselves felt personally tormented.

    The estimated incidence of distressing NDEs (dNDEs) for western cultures has ranged from 1% to 15% of all NDEs (Bonenfant, 2001). The results of prospective studies in which the researchers interviewed everyone who experienced cardiac arrest in one or more hospitals during a period of at least several months are noteworthy. In the four prospective studies conducted between 1984 and 2001 1, 2, 3, 4 involving a total of 130 NDErs, none reported distressing experiences. This finding seems to confirm that the experience is relatively rare in western cultures.

  24. I was wondering when something like this was going to happen. It is like a very messy divorce.

    Here we have a highly referenced atheist coming to grips with reality- the data, evidence and observations say that a change is in order.

    IOW he does not like the bed he has made and others share because it is very soiled and spoiled. And those who choose to stay and wallow get very upset at those who leave. Especially if they write a book about it.

    If nothing was said what would happen to those “innocent” young atheists who look up to Flew? Would they also fly?

    That will not happen without a fight. And the easiest way is to target an 84 year old…

  25. I’m in my thirties, and I prefer Flew’s style over that of Harris or Dawkins. So what does that make me — a “paleo-atheist”? Ha!

  26. 26

    Just so you know, there are still many “Old Atheists” out there.

    While I am not a “New Atheist” I can pragmatically embrace what they have done for the rest of us. They did for us what the offensive gays did for their movement. They got us noticed. One positive effect has been that now there is a shelf at Borders Bookstores called “Atheism.”

    On the heels of the “New Atheists” is coming a second round of books from “Old Atheists” that will do much more damage to the Christian faith. I think my book is one of them.

    Cheers.

  27. New atheist, old atheist, any atheist, What I want to know if there is an honest atheist?

    I personally find atheism to be intellectually bankrupt and solely based on faith. I have more respect for deists but atheists have to really distort reality to get where they are intellectually and as such are the epitome of hypocrisy.

  28. Mr. Loftus – I do not think there are many here on this board that are amused by your antics. This is not a blog like After The Bar Closes where they make fun of Dr. Dembski, or ERV, where they make fun of Dr. Behe.

    You sir, I am sure, will be both prayed over and condemed to hell.
    I give you credit for your chuztpah, but not for your choice of venue.

  29. 29

    Glarson24 said…Mr. Loftus – I do not think there are many here on this board that are amused by your antics.

    If that’s true and if what I wrote is out of line, then I apologize and humbly ask the moderator to remove that comment along with this one. I thought what I said was on target and helpful, even if I did advertise a little.

  30. You sir, I am sure, will be both prayed over and condemed to hell.

    I thought there was moderation on this site.

  31. I do not know if we have an honest atheist but we have a polite one.

  32. Mr. Loftus,

    When you make a statement like:

    While I am not a “New Atheist” I can pragmatically embrace what they have done for the rest of us.

    I just wonder who you think you are fooling? If you “embrace” their approach, then you can pretty much consider yourself a “New Atheist” as well. No doubt you’re fond of them as they might help increase your book sales, and goodness knows you must need the money if you’ve stooped to pluggin’ you goods at an ID site.

    Here’s the problem though – New Athiests are devisive to the extreme, and their rabid intolerance and need for religion to be “eradicated” is a call for war, not a call for a peaceful secular society.

    They mirror image that in which they supposedly are fighting against.

  33. Anthony Flew was of the old school which valued liberty and the quest for truth (which none of us have a complete lock on)—as for the new breed I think Denyse O’Leary sums it up pretty well when she says, “It is worth remembering that people who do not themselves require intellectual freedom may not know what intellectual freedom would be like.”

  34. Bornagain77,

    Thank you for your NDE response, but I have read it in another post of yours somewhere.

    I’ll try to summarize both Chopra and the website. To me, Chopra’s main belief is that the afterlife is primarily a “what you expect is what you get” kind of thing. You are in control. In fact, he’s rather solipsistic. I remember watching a clip of him on the Colbert Report, where he says “Everything is an allusion. The only thing that’s real is you.” Whatever the hell that means. A lot of his ideas are based on ancient Vedic teachings, and like many Eastern religions, he believes in reincarnation. From what I remember in his book “Life After Death,” which I couldn’t finish because it started annoying me, he believes the afterlife goes something like this: You die, and the afterlife you expect, whether it be heaven or some kind of Buddhist nirvana, is experienced. After your ego has had its fill, you lose said ego, along with everything else you identify as your unique self. Then, the karmic consequences of your just-lived life are compiled, and you are accordingly given a new type of self, with a new personality, talents, etc.

    No doubt I’ve probably oversimplified his beliefs, but they frustrated me. As evidence, he cites a particular NDE of a man who wasn’t sure what to believe. Therefore, the uncertainty he brought into his NDE manifested itself through various shifts. The being of light that approached him at one point was Jesus, then it would morph into Buddha, then into Vishnu, etc. And the light told him that his experience was unique because of his own shifting expectations.

    But if it’s really just an expectation of mind, then is there such a thing as truth? I’m all for respecting the choices of others, including religious beliefs, but he takes it too far. He tries to unite them, making stretches with liberal interpretations to draw parallels and solve disputes by claiming “everyone is right.” It’s a irritatingly contradictory, because you can’t embrace everything without encountering conflict. He applauds a book by Ervin Laszlo, even though it attributes NDEs and the like to accessing dated akashic records, rather than being a real-time experience (Laszlo’s theory also claims that evolution was informed by the akashic field, which requires a trial-and-error Multiverse, or “Metaverse” as he calls it, to make sense). He’s also very approving of the New-Age phenomenon “The Secret.” Not only do I not think the universe is some kind of cosmic vending machine, but the claim that everything that has happened in your life is “your doing,” “your fault,” is extremely offensive to me. Am I really expected to believe with a sound heart that the victims in Darfur have “attracted” their situation to themselves?
    Anyway, given his spiritual pluralism, I would say Deepak Chopra is little more than an idea salesman. Of course, it’s clear that he has an Eastern bias. He has the audacity to say “After Hell, the worst place I could imagine is Heaven.” In that Heaven would get really boring, and you’d be stuck there. He expressed his reasoning with an ancient anecdote about a man in a room that could create anything he could think of. This man would therefore establish for himself a living a pleasure, luxury, and relaxation. But it eventually started boring him, and so he willingly began to create a little hell for himself…things that caused him suffering. Once pain became commonplace, the man gave himself luxury again, and the process repeats. Heaven, therefore, is some kind of evil to him.

    Now it seems enormously presumptuous to say that the Kingdom of God would bore you, but I do hope that it is more than just a state of being. For Deepak, I guess reincarnation offers an escape. But reincarnation is just illogical to me. Wouldn’t the number of people on this planet have to remain constant, and how does that come into play with the timing of a couple conceiving a baby? Is one just in limbo until the right karmic fit comes along? Some people say that you can choose when you reincarnate, which they learned from their NDE. But that seems inconsistent with the concept of karmic debt. It all gets so convoluted. Thanks, Deepak.

    As far as http://www.near-death.com, the beliefs aren’t too different from Chopra’s (he references it in his books) It’s heavily pluralistic and New-Agey. It says there’s no evil, no Satan, just Ego and stupid choices. And Hell is more of a self-created state of mind. The Bible is primarily metaphorical. Religious figures like Adam and Buddha are past lives of Jesus Christ (pffff), and that there’s evidence of Reincarnation in the Bible, blah blah blah. A section of the site even tries to justify suicide and euthanasia , and that we have a right to kill ourselves. Needless to say, while some aspects of the site are ridiculous, others are rather dangerous.

    Anyway, maybe these sources just contain selected truths (or lies, I guess), because they’re not quite consistent with what you’ve been saying, Bornagain77. I’m by no means calling you a liar, because I don’t think you are. I’ve just read, regrettably, a lot of this stuff and it’s difficult to reconcile all these mixed signals.

  35. Nooo…..bornagain77 I had a LONG response to you and I guess it didn’t post. I lost it and I’m too lazy to retype all of it. Anyway, I’ve read your NDE stuff before in another post. In short, one of the things Deepak Chopra believes is that Heaven is a form of suffering cause it’d eventually get boring. Reincarnation offers an escape. I think reincarnation doesn’t make any sense, but whatever…while he has this pluralistic idea that the afterlife you expect is what you get (until it bores you), he has an Eastern bent to his beliefs.

    As far as the website http://www.near-death.com goes, it makes some ridiculous, if not downright dangerous claims. It says all the religious afterlifes live in different realms, and the Bible is primarily metaphors. There’s no Evil or Satan, just Ego and bad choices. It says Adam and Buddha, among other figures, are past lives of Jesus Christ (pffff), and the Bible has evidence for reincarnation. Most shocking is that it tries to justify suicide and euthanasia, in that we have a right to kill ourselves…..pretty gross.

    Anyway, it’s all a bit of mixed signals in light of the research you have shown me.

  36. Not that I think you’re wrong, by any stretch, I just thought you should see the other crap (pardon me) that’s around.

  37. Berceuse,
    I’ve seen some of the other NDE crap floating around, that is why I listed the studies I used to do my research…It is much like everything else,,,the imagination of man has a great potential to interpret things to his own desires, that is why I relied on the hardest evidence I could get my hands on and then made my inferences.

  38. What are your thoughts on the “evidence” for reincarnation, such as past-life regressions?

    Seems to be a psychological manifestation to me.

  39. J. Loftus — When you talk about Old Atheists vs. New Atheists, you ought to keep some perspective.

    Freud was an atheist and he was much older than Flew. If damage to faith is your wish, he did much more than you can ever hope to match.

    Of course, he was found to be wrong on just about everything.

    Marx was also an atheist and he was even older. And he did even more damage. And he was found to be even more wrong.

    Atheists aren’t anything new.

    David wrote over 3,000 years that a fool in his heart says there is no God.

    Atheists are in every generation. They do damage in every generation.

    And God remains.

  40. Forthekids said…I just wonder who you think you are fooling? If you “embrace” their approach, then you can pretty much consider yourself a “New Atheist” as well.

    I think it was unfortunate that in order to gain the attention that atheists needed the so-called “New Atheists” (which has nothing to do with their ages) had to ridicule and berate theists just like we all do when it comes to Zeus, Ra, Janus, and Hathor. But since they did get people’s attention I’m thankful for the results. If you cannot understand that distinction as applied to other things in your life which you wouldn’t do but produce results for which you like, I cannot help you. But I never would’ve done what they did, and I don’t do that now.

  41. John, how is your new book going to differ from your other 2? The titles almost seem verbatium…

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi......%20Loftus

    I looked you up on the internet, to see if you really are an “old atheist”, I wanted to see what areguments you have to offer and found these links.

    http://meanderingpath.blogspot.....-liar.html

    http://atheismsucks.blogspot.c.....e-lie.html

    I think one thing the old atheists relied on was rationality and fairness…

    Best of luck to you John.

  42. Yikes, I guess I have been found out, unless you consider the source. Having an extreme dislike for JP Holding does not make me a “New Atheist,” or else anyone who hates another person who maliciously attacks him is one too. He did so for three years. Someone who does that will provoke me, and I suspect anyone else too. For even a cuddly dog can be provoked to take a bite out of you. If you want solid evidence I am not a “New Atheist” and that I treat people with the human dignity and respect they deserve, just visit my blog. If you think one deception from a person characterizes him as a liar then you fail to understand that 1) This is unreasonable, for one deception does not a deceiver make; 2) The Bible says we are all liars, you included; and 3) Poll data that confirms most people will tell big lies on a weekly basis (I don’t).

    Finally, if you think this discredits my arguments then you’re just being ignorant, and I’m not saying you are.

    Cheers.

  43. It’s interesting that you seem to justify what you did:

    “In any case I feel justified in being deceptive because I was dealing with enemies, and as such I did not need to tell the whole story (and this is where I was deceptive), especially based upon my consequentialist ethics. The whole reason I did so was to expose Holding without being soiled, which I still consider a good teleological goal.”

    Wow.

    As for your justification #2…odd that, as an atheist, you use the Bible as a reference in regard to liars. You might consider the fact that although people lie, that does not make it *okay*, nor does it justify your lie in this instance.

    This type of deception should certainly be of concern to your readers. It would be hard to trust someone who justifies lying in this fashion.

  44. I think it was unfortunate that in order to gain the attention that atheists needed the so-called “New Atheists” (which has nothing to do with their ages) had to ridicule and berate theists just like we all do when it comes to Zeus, Ra, Janus, and Hathor. But since they did get people’s attention I’m thankful for the results. If you cannot understand that distinction as applied to other things in your life which you wouldn’t do but produce results for which you like, I cannot help you. But I never would’ve done what they did, and I don’t do that now.

    Theists are often killed in China and North Korea. Are you also thankful for those results yet you would never do the same? Yes, that comparison is purposely extreme in order to make the point.

    I’ve run into those Atheism Sucks people a couple times in various places and personally I’d put them in the same category as the New Atheists: they’re abusive and annoying. If you were a theist wouldn’t you agree that overall the results are a negative due to the collateral damage?

    Keep it real. Keep it impersonal.

    Oh, and while I’m at it…Daniel King is right: keep such insults and personal condemnations outside of UD.

  45. “Oh, and while I’m at it…Daniel King is right: keep such insults and personal condemnations outside of UD.”

    I assume that was directed at me, and you’re right. My last post sounded really awful. I shouldn’t have posted immediately after reading entries at his blog and the links bork provided.

    Taking a deep breath and counting to ten before posting is always good advise.

  46. Bork said…John, how is your new book going to differ from your other 2? The titles almost seem verbatium…

    The PB edition is a massive revision of my self-published one.

  47. I’m not sure it is a difference bewteen “new and old” atheists. It is more of a difference between carefully well thought out adults and childish adolescents (or people stuck at that stage of development).

    The “new atheists” are ill educated and boorish and the real irony is that they basically don’t know what they are talking about.

    But they are just a particularly popular and high profile variation on the sort of village atheist that has populated internet discussion boards for years.

    I always enjoying reading the works of thoughtful intelligent atheists like Flew (well in the past), Nietzsche, Camus etc, but the new bunch of clowns come across as slightly more polished versions of the 16 year old “new liberated” atheist you find all over the web, who never understood what they are claiming to reject and are just looking for any excuse. There anger and venom is understandable, if it wasn’t for that they wouldn’t have anything to say.

  48. Speaking of atheists…have you guys heard about “The Golden Compass” movie? I guess it is based on atheistic books with a heavily anti-G-d message. Source: http://snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

  49. I agree with William Dembski. I prefer the old atheists to the new ones. Aside from the bad manners and the angry agenda of the new atheists, it should be noticed how stale and boring their arguments are. Dawkins’s arguments for atheism not only fail to rise to the level of the academic atheism of a Flew, but frequently fail to rise even to the level of the superficial bourgeois atheism of the old Rationalist Society tracts of the 1920s and 1930s, which dazzled my grandfather’s generation with their smarty-pants skepticism.

    What puzzles me is that the audience for whom that old bourgeois atheism was so rhetorically effective — the comfortable “worldly Protestant” culture of late Victorian England and post-WWI America, which fancied itself fashionably daring for venturing to read Tom Paine or to bash the clergy — is long gone. The source criticism of the Bible is now preached by Anglican bishops and taught as “gospel truth” in Baptist seminaries, and most clergy are regarded by the general society as worthy of contempt or ridicule, not as the high and mighty who must be cut down to size. In Dawkins’s England, about — what? — 10% of the population goes to church regularly, and most of the rest don’t care much about religion one way or the other. In America church attendance is much higher, but even there mainstream Protestantism is moribund (having been largely converted to secular humanism over the last 80 years), so who’s left to shock and seduce? Who is lapping up this tired old stuff as if it’s a dazzling new Enlightenment? Aren’t Dawkins and Co. just preaching to the converted?

  50. Off Topic: This Chinese Christian Music Video really moved me.

    http://video.google.com/videop.....;plindex=3

  51. Dr. Dembski,
    I don’t think you would like these “old atheists” better than the new ones:

    The Cannibals of Fiji Island
    Back in the 1830′s, when the Methodist missionaries went to the Fiji Islands to convert the natives to Christianity, they were shockingly appalled by what they saw. Cannibalism, and not just minor Cannibalism but rampant Cannibalism. Human flesh was the food of choice, considered to be the choicest delicacy surpassing even lobster or steak, by the Islanders. And yes, the stories of the natives fattening up their captives before feasting on them were true. Women were the preferred choice of victims, because their meat was said to be more tender. They would fatten the “livestock” for months before binding the poor souls feet and hands to their thighs and setting them in a Bar-B-Q pit to be roasted “ALIVE”. They said the meat tasted better if the victim was cook while still alive. After Bar-B-Qing the victim, in a gesture that has spiritual overtones, They would often paint the victims face to look like one of their warriors and then set the main course on the table, like a roasted pig at a Hawaiian Luau. Then with the whole tribe, wife and kids ,Grandmas and Grandpas, aunts ,uncles and cousins all in attendance, the much yearned for feast would begin. Letters sent home by the missionaries tell of up to 50 victims being consumed in a single feast. No my friends whiskey, gambling, or were not the vices to be confronted in these nonbelievers, it was wholesale gluttony of the human flesh that was the vice to be conquered. Why they looked to such feast with as much glee as we look to Thanksgiving is a mystery of human nature that may never be fully understood. Needless to say it was a surely a sin that the missionaries must of found absolutely appalling . You can imagine the vulnerable missionaries relief when the natives started to relinquish their Cannibalistic habits as they slowly embraced Christianity. The funny thing to me, that the book I read didn’t touch on, is how in the world did the missionaries explain, and how in the world did the natives react when they brought up the fact that believers in Jesus Christ are suppose to partake of Christ body and his with the sacraments of Bread and Wine. I laugh at some of the situations I can imagine must of occurred in this most unusual of settings. It must of surely made for many strange moments.
    Based on the book “Cannibalism: Shocking True Tales” by Joseph Cummins

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