Philosopher Antony Flew died on April 8, 2010. He was 87. During the last decade of his life, he had moved from a long-held religious agnosticism, which he called “negative atheism,” to deism. Flew believed in a creator god, but not the God of any revelation, not an object of ritual worship, nor the host of an afterlife. Flew’s relatively tiny shift of irreligious identifcation generated enormous and heated discussion, much of it about the elderly Flew’s mental acuity.
These essays assess the rationality of Flew’s belief changes, from a broadly and approximate Bayesian perspective. First up, we’ll consider whether empirical observations might possibly increase rational believers’ confidence in their religious beliefs, despite the general incompatibility of natural and supernatural reasoning. Flew changed his mind about that issue first, before he later changed his mind about the question of God. Continue reading