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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Old Age and Religious Views

The New York Times Magazine of November 4 has an article on the distinguished British philosopher Antony Flew. It seems that after a lifetime of espousing atheism -- as one the most trenchant and clear-thinking writers in that field -- the aging Professor Flew has recanted and now espouses a form of deism. This turn has been widely publicized, and apparently manipulated, by religionists. A new book that bears Flew's name as author, for example, does not seem to have been written by him at all, but was authored by his new religious friends. The writer of this New York Times article, Mark Oppenheimer, suggests that the turn can largely be attributed to a form of senility on the part of Professor Flew. He has interviewed Flew in his home (Mrs. Flew serving glasses of water), finding that Flew was unable to remember crucial points that were made in what is ostensibly his own new book. Nor does he seem to recall many other things. Of course all that is very sad. It is obvious that our political and philosophical views are in some sense related to our state of health. That much is obvious on its face. But it is seldom that a specific instance of psychopathology-as-philosophy, or dotage-as-religion, can be so well documented. A memorable article.

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