Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Response to "hit" review of Flew's There IS a God in New York Times

Roy Abraham Varghese, Antony Flew's co-author for There IS a God (Harper One, 2007), sends me a link to his letter protesting Anthony Gottlieb's sneer review in the New York Times.
I’m bemused by Anthony Gottlieb’s review of “There Is a God” (Dec. 23), a book by Antony Flew “with” myself (the scare quotes are his). Like many of the polemicists on the blogosphere, Gottlieb assumes that caricatures and insinuations trump arguments (this coming from a teacher of ideas). By gratuitously mentioning the subject of one of my previous books — claims of the supernatural — he thinks he has thereby discredited the provenance of the present book. This is as good an example as any of the argumentum ad hominem.
He cites Flew’s statement that the book is my doing without quoting his subsequent clarification issued through our publisher: “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. This is my book and it represents my thinking.”

Gottlieb imperiously dismisses the “abysmal intellectual standards” of my appendix without bothering to explain what’s abysmal about it.

Actually, I read Varghese's appendix in There IS a God and thought it well argued and full of useful information about why materialism is not true. I would urge readers of this blog to get it and read it, as a companion to The Spiritual Brain.

I think Gottlieb doesn't like it because it is a telling argument against his position, but that isn't something he can readily say, is it? Better to just imperiously dismiss it as "abysmal." Anyway, now you know.

Incidentally, Varghese also told me that it was Flew himself who chose "World's Most Notorious atheist" for the subtitle, in a self-deprecating humor that I gather is typical.

I'm eating crow here, because I had assumed that the subtitle was dreamed up by Marketing One. Well, they're off the hook this time.

And TWO helpings of crows to the angry atheists who wrote me to complain about the "world's most notorious atheist" moniker, implying I was somehow responsible.

Good thing crows are not an endangered species. Have some more, fellas. The farmers of North America love ya all. Eat! Eat! Ess! Ess! Whatever!