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Antony Flew dies

image of Antony FlewAntony Flew

The philosopher Antony Flew died on April 8, 2010, at the age of 87, according to the obituary in the Telegraph (April 13, 2010). Born in London on February 11, 1923, Flew served in Royal Air Force Intelligence during World War II before graduating from Oxford University in 1947. He spent twenty years as professor of philosophy at the University of Keele and then almost a decade at the University of Reading; in his retirement, he was a part-time faculty member at York University. A prolific author with over twenty books to his credit, he was especially known for his work on the eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume, his conservative views on politics and education, and his writings on the philosophy of religion, in which he vigorously argued for what he called the presumption of atheism.

During his career, Flew took a degree of interest in evolutionary theory and its implications, publishing monographs on Evolutionary Ethics (1968) as well as Darwinian Evolution (1984; second edition, 1997) — although his exposition was arguably marred by a fondness for claims of genetic linkage between intelligence and race. Toward the end of his life, Flew announced that he was renouncing his atheism in favor of a form of deism. The reasons for his conversion seemed to shift from interview to interview, although arguments associated with various forms of creationism were frequently mentioned. Flew's There is a God (2007) failed to clarify the matter, since, as The New York Times (November 24, 2007) revealed, Flew acknowledged that "he had not written his book."