This past week the Los Angeles Times ran a brief obituary of the distinguished English scholar Antony Flew (1923-2010). Flew was a high-profile academic philosopher noted, even among impressive peers, as an exceptional intellect. After service in the Royal Air Force during World War II, he studied at Oxford and there participated in weekly meetings originally organized by C. S. Lewis. The author or co-author of more than thirty books, he is best known for his rigorously logical arguments against the existence of God.
However, this champion of atheism began to waver in his convictions later in life. The possibility that the planet’s delicate ecosystem might be the product of mere chance seemed increasingly improbable to him, and in the end, and without any intellectual slippage, he had crossed over to the other side of the divide over God.
His brief obituary also mentioned that he was the son of a Methodist minister, and as a teenager had abandoned belief in God after wrestling with the problem of evil. Flew’s father died years before his son saw the light, and never lived to see the unlikely turnaround in his brilliant sons’ heart and mind. It’s a reminder that everyone is on a lifelong journey, and it’s never over ’til it’s over. Sometimes waiting fathers and mothers, and other loved ones, may even dare, like Abraham and Moses and a host of other saints, to die in hope. We may not always get to see the rest of the story.