So says Richard Carrier, who had previously chronicled, through an exchange of personal letters and independent research, Flew’s own thoughts about his conversion long before the new book, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind hit the shelves. (And, to be clear here, no one is asserting that Flew’s conversion to deism is itself a scam: it’s the way the story is being packaged, presented, and sold)
Carrier’s side of the story is simply devastating, and a must read on this subject: if what he says is true, then we’re dealing with intellectual dishonesty of the highest order. By comparing his documented correspondence with Flew against the book’s account of how Flew’s views developed, he shows that the book is glaringly ignorant of arguments and counter-arguments that Flew at some point knew and understood. He points out that it barely even mentions deism, Flew’s actual stated view, and instead implies that Flew is either teetering on the edge of embracing Jesus, or is just too coy to admit that he already has. He claims that out of a tumult of mundane Christian apologetics supposedly central to his thinking, it contains only one argument Flew had ever previously cited to Carrier as a reason for his newfound theism… an argument which Flew had later admitted he was mistaken about (another event which the book suspiciously seems to have no knowledge of). Just look at how that plays out, and you’ll see why it’s so hard to believe that Flew really understands what “his” book says:
For example, the author pretending to be Flew claims there hasn’t been enough time for abiogenesis. The real Antony Flew knows this is false. In fact he conceded it was false to me in writing, and I quoted him on this fact in my online article. You would think that even a forger who wants the world to think this is Flew’s response to his own critics and that Flew remains a theist for sound reasons, would at least have his fictional Flew explain his retraction and re-retract it somehow. Instead, the author appears not even to know that Flew publicly retracted the claim that there hasn’t been enough time for abiogenesis.
Carrier’s Amazon review documents further errors of scholarship and factual matters that are simply embarrassing and silly no matter who actually wrote them.
And that’s sort of the bottom line: even if Flew had written the book and the exploitation/senility angle had none of its sad and sorry relevance, bad arguments are still bad arguments. Unfortunately for evangelical ghostwriter Roy Varghese and his ghostwriter, Bob Hostetler, the exploitation outrage really is far more relevant than the arguments, which are neither new, nor, apparently, especially well argued in the book. Portraying them as Flew’s own words, when he at best read and approved some drafts is flatly dishonest even if a Flew in full command of his faculties had approved of it. Given that Flew seems to be unable to really follow rigorous arguments, remember conversations or scholarship, or judge when people are pulling a fast one over on him, the book blows right past dishonest into ghoulish and outrageous.