Looking over Christianity Today’s Best Books of 2007 , I was somewhat surprised that “There is a God: How the World’s Most Famous Atheist Changed His Mind” made it on the list.
Let me first confess: I have not read the book. But this New York Times story from November of last year raises significant questions about whether Antony Flew, the “famous atheist” in question, is of sound mind.
Writer Mark Oppenheimer visits the 84-year-old Flew and reports: “he seemed generally uninterested in the content of his book – he spent far more time talking about the dangers of unchecked Muslim immigration and his embrace of the anti-E.U. United Kingdom Independence Party.
As he himself conceded, he had not written his book.
`This is really Roy’s doing,’ he said, before I had even figured out a polite way to ask. `He showed it to me, and I said O.K. I’m too old for this kind of work!'”
Oppenheimer add that “When I asked Varghese, he freely admitted that the book was his idea and that he had done all the original writing for it. But he made the book sound like more of a joint effort – slightly more, anyway. `There was stuff he had written before, and some of that was adapted to this,’ Varghese said.
`There is stuff he’d written to me in correspondence, and I organized a lot of it. And I had interviews with him. So those three elements went into it. Oh, and I exposed him to certain authors and got his views on them. We pulled it together. And then to make it more reader-friendly, HarperCollins had a more popular author go through it.'”
The book is listed as by “Antony Flew with Roy Abraham Varghese.”
Flew says he didn’t write the book. The article goes through pains to explain that the 84-year-old can neither recollect his own past writings, nor the work of others with whom he has collaborated. This is pretty fraught territory: turning a famous atheist into a believer would be considered a major coup for some Christians. Imagine, for instance, if Flew was on the other foot and walking away from the cross.
All the more reason, I think, to examine closely how the book was written and by whom. Of course, all this doesn’t mean it’s not a good book, it just raises a lot of questions.