Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Matthew F. Pierlott, Ph.D.
Daniel A. Forbes, Ph.D.
Anthony J. Nicastro, Ph.D.
This project examines the thinking of British philosopher Antony Flew (1923-2010), who is considered a leading atheist during the last half of the twentieth century and a leading scholar on David Hume. But early in the twenty-first century (2004), he announced that his thinking had led him to deny atheism and affirm theism. After the Introduction, this project focuses on his writings and debates on the existence of God, doing so in four chapters: Laying the Groundwork; Atheist Antony Flew; Theist Antony Flew; and Assessment. In Laying the Groundwork I identify four guiding principles that pervade Flew’s thinking. These are (1) Follow the Evidence, and Related Laws of Thought; (2) Analyticity; (3) Theology and Falsification; (4) The Presumption of Atheism.
The project answers this question: is Flew logically consistent with these four principles as atheist and then theist? (Looking back, how would Flew have to answer this?) The Assessment chapter argues to the following conclusions. On (1), no as atheist, though a qualified yes as agnostic (charitable interpretation); yes as theist. On (2): no as atheist; inapplicable (for Flew) as theist. On (3): no as atheist; unclear as theist. On (4): ignoring a flaw in this principle ex hypothesi allows a charitable yes as “atheist;” a charitable yes as theist.
Beals, George, "The Early Flew to the Later Flew" (2019). West Chester University Master’s Theses. 67.