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Paul Feyerabend  Antony Flew  

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Antony Flew  (1923)  Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading  Web  Amazon  GP  AV

Imagine that a satellite phone is washed ashore on a remote island inhabited by a tribe that has never had contact with modern civilization. The natives play with the numbers on the dial pad and hear different voices upon hitting certain sequences. They assume first that it’s the device that makes these noises. Some of the cleverer natives, the scientists of the tribe, assemble an exact replica and hit the numbers again. They hear the voices again. The conclusion seems obvious to them. This particular combination of crystals and metals and chemicals produces what seems like human voices, and this means that the voices are simply properties of this device.

“But the tribal sage summons the scientists for a discussion. He has thought long and hard on the matter and has reached the following conclusion: the voices coming through the instrument must be coming from people like themselves, people who are living and conscious although speaking in another language. Instead of assuming that the voices are simply properties of the handset, they should investigate the possibility that through some mysterious communication network they are ‘in touch’ with other humans. Perhaps further study along these lines could lead to a greater understanding of the world beyond their island. But the scientists simply laugh at the sage and say, ‘Look, when we damage the instrument, the voices stop coming. So they’re obviously nothing more than sounds produced by a unique combination of lithium and printed circuit boards and light-emitting diodes.

“In this parable we see how easy it is to let preconceived theories shape the way we view evidence instead of letting the evidence shape our theories.     There Is A God  (2007)  p.85-6

Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science. Science spotlights three dimensions of nature that point to God, The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from matter. The third is the very existence of nature. But It is not science alone that has guided me…Over the last two decades, my whole frame work of thought has been in a state of migration. This was a consequence of my continuing assessment of the evidence of nature.     There Is A God  (2007)  p.88-9

You might ask how I, a philosopher, could speak to issues treated by scientist. The best way to answer this is with another question. Are we engaging in science of philosophy here? When you study the interaction of two physical bodies, for instance, two subatomic particles, you are engaged in science. When you ask how it is that those subatomic particles – or anything physical – could exist and why, you are engaged in philosophy. When you draw philosophical conclusions from scientific data, then you are thinking as a philosopher.     There Is A God  (2007)  p.89

Of course, scientists are just as free to think as philosophers as anyone else, And, of course, not all scientists will agree with my particular interpretation of the facts they generate. But their disagreements will have to stand on their own two philosophical feet. In other words, if they are engaged in philosophical analysis, neither their authority nor their expertise as scientists is of any relevance. This should be easy to see. If they present their views on the economics of science, such as making claims about the number of jobs created by science and technology, they will have to make their case in the court of economic analysis. Likewise, a scientist who speaks as a philosopher will have to furnish a philosophical case. As Albert Einstein himself said, “The man of science is a poor philosopher.”      There Is A God  (2007)  p.90-1

I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena. It has been an exercise in what is traditionally called natural theology. It has had no connection with any of the revealed religions. Nor did I claim to have had any personal experience of God or any experience that may be called supernatural or miraculous. In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason not of faith.      There Is A God  (2007)  p.93

The important point is not merely that there are regularities in nature, but that these regularities are mathematically precise, universal, and “tied together.” Einstein spoke of them as “reason incarnate” The question we should ask is how nature came packaged in this fashion. This is certainly the question that scientists from Newton to Einstein to Heisenberg have asked – and answered. Their answer was the Mind of God.      There Is A God  (2007)  p.96 

Imagine entering a hotel room on your next vacation. The CD player on the bedside table is softly playing a track from your favorite recording. The framed print over the bed is identical to the image that hangs over the fireplace at home. The room is scented with your favorite fragrance…You step over to the minibar, open the door, and stare in wonder at the contents. Your favorite beverage. Your favorite cookies and candy. Even the brand of bottled water you prefer…You notice the book on the desk: it’s the latest volume by your favorite author…

Chances are, with each new discovery about your hospitable new environment, you would be less inclined to think it has all a mere coincidence, right? You might wonder how the hotel managers acquired such detailed information about you. You might marvel at their meticulous preparation. You might even double-check what all this is going to cost you. But you would certainly be inclined to believe that someone knew you were coming.      There Is A God  (2007)  p.113-4

A far more important consideration is the philosophical challenge facing origin-of-life studies. Most studies on the origin of life are carried out by scientists who rarely attend to the philosophical dimension of their findings. Philosophers, on the other hand, have said little on the nature and origin of life. The philosophical question that has not been answered in origin-of-life studies is this: How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self-replication capabilities, and “coded chemistry”? Here we are not dealing with biology, but an entirely different category of problem.      There Is A God  (2007)  p.124

The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such “end-directed, self-replicating” life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind.      There Is A God  (2007)  p.132

The postulation of multiple universes, I maintained, is a truly desperate alternative. If the existence of one universe requires an explanation, multiple universes require a much bigger explanation: the problem is increased by the factor of whatever the total number of universes is. It seems a little like the case of a schoolboy whose teacher doesn’t believe his dog ate his homework, so he replaces the first version with the story that a pack of dogs – too many to count – ate his homework.      There Is A God  (2007)  p.137

I must say again that the journey of my discovery of the Divine has thus far been a pilgrimage of reason. I have followed the argument where it has led me. And it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being.      There Is A God  (2007)  p.155

As I have said more than once, no other religion enjoys anything like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul. If you’re wanting omnipotence to set up a religion, it seems to me that this is the one to beat!      There Is A God  (2007)  p.157

Some claim to have made contact with this Mind, I have not – yet. But who knows what could happen next?

Someday I might hear a Voice that says, “Can you hear me now?”      There Is A God  (2007)  p.158

I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint despite numerous efforts to do so. With every passing year, the more that was discovered about the richness and inherent intelligence of life, the less it seemed likely that a chemical soup could magically generate the genetic code. The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical. The best confirmation of this radical gulf is Richard Dawkins' comical effort to argue in The God Delusion that the origin of life can be attributed to a "lucky chance." If that's the best argument you have, then the game is over. No, I did not hear a Voice. It was the evidence itself that led me to this conclusion.     tothesource  October 30 2007

The God Delusion by the atheist writer Richard Dawkins, is remarkable in the first place for having achieved some sort of record by selling over a million copies. But what is much more remarkable than that economic achievement is that the contents – or rather lack of contents – of this book show Dawkins himself to have become what he and his fellow secularists typically believe to be an impossibility: namely, a secularist bigot. (Helpfully, my copy of The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view’).    bethinking.org  2008

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Paul Feyerabend  Antony Flew  

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