New York Times spin: Elderly ex-atheist Flew is just senile.
Dinesh D’Souza, reporting on the recent attempt to minimize the significance of Antony Flew’s conversion from atheism to some sort of belief in God, based on the intelligent design of the universe, comments:
Imagine if one of the world's leading Christians--say C.S. Lewis a generation ago, or Billy Graham now--were to reject his religious beliefs and become a atheist. It would be big news! The New York Times would be all over it, for sure, and the question would be why a man who has devoted his life to God would now turn against Him? In sum, the focus would be on what were the reasons for the conversion and on what's so bad about Christianity.
Contrast this with the New York Times' approach to the conversion of philosopher Anthony Flew. Flew has been, for the past half-century, the world's leading advocate of atheism.
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When a major figure like Flew switches sides, the New York TImes goes into mafia-style intellectual hit mode. They selected Mark Oppenheimer of Yale, who visited Flew in England and wrote a long article in the November 4, 2007 New York Times Magazine suggesting that Flew converted because he is, well, senile. The basic idea is that Flew has lost his mind and can't remember anything, and when Christian apologists like Varghese were nice to him Flew basically surrendered to them and let them write his book.
The only evidence that Flew has lost his mind is that he's 84 years old. A man of 84 naturally loses some of his memory, especially for names, but this does not mean he has lost his marbles. Flew's own writings of the past few years are all entirely coherent and employ sophisticated philosophical vocabulary.
Well, of course, Dinesh. They had to find some way to minimize the significance. If Flew had been 48, instead of 84, they would say it was a midlife crisis. If he had been 18, they would have said ... well, you can write it yourself.
To my mind, the significance of the Times' cheap shot is that that’s ALL they can come up with. Definitely more from me later.