The Devil is in the Details

A Challenge to Roy A. Varghese

Brian Worley


I was warned while in Bible college that “the devil is in the details”.  I was told to pay attention to how people use definitions when they describe and explain an opposing viewpoint.  Now, I had not planned to address Antony Flew’s “conversion to theism”, but I just can’t help myself.  

When I looked into this, I did not find the devil anywhere near, only a book written with Antony Flew’s and Roy A. Varghese’s name attached to it. The book’s title is “There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind”. Please excuse me for borrowing a Christian term (devil) since I am a secular humanist.  

A word about dictionaries and definitions

I have been advised to always try to use older dictionaries if I could. The reason being was that the older dictionaries aren’t as clever as the newer one might be, and thus a probability for a more precise definition when you are searching for classic definitions. Now, my oldest dictionary is the 1968 version of The Random House Dictionary of the English Language (College Edition), so it will have to do. I will give you their definitions of 2 key words that I will use in this article. 

Deism   1. belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation (distinguished from theism) 2. belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to his creation. 

Theism   1.  the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation ( distinguished from deism).  2.   belief in the existence of God or gods (opposed to atheism). 

I read with interest Mark Oppenheimer’s New York Times article published on November 4, 2007  that is titled “The Turning of an Atheist”. I have also read a few reviews of the book, but I can’t bring myself to buy the book for reasons that I will keep to myself.  

I consider myself a freethinker. So if Antony Flew truly changes his mind from atheism to theism or deism then I have no problem with that because we live in a democratic society where freedom of speech is permitted with a few limitations.  

You ask, then why are you writing an article about this? I do so because I want to challenge Roy A. Varghese to clarify a few terms for all who do not claim to be theists.  

When reading Oppenheimer’s article it appears to me that Flew seems to only allow for a belief in deism, not theism.   On May 11, 2006, Biola awarded Flew the second Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth, named for the author of “Darwin on Trial.” At the Biola ceremony, Flew mocked the revealed religion of his audience and flaunted his allegiance to deism: “The deist god, unlike the god of the Jewish, Christian or, for heaven’s sake, the Islamic revelation, is neither interested in nor concerned about either human beliefs or human behavior,” he told the small crowd.” 

There is an implication “out there” that Flew has adopted theism.  Mr. Varghese, could you please explain your definitions of these two (deism, theism) important words? Do you distinguish the differences between the two words consistently?  If you do not, then please tell us why it is that you would do this and want to confuse people? 

Dear Theist, Name it before you claim it! 

Now, I want to de-facto lay down an imaginary law that I cannot imagine any atheist would have a problem with. That law is “ before anyone can claim to be a theist, they must first name their god before they can be considered  a genuine theist”.  If they cannot do this, then they must be considered a deist. 

The challenge 

Mr. Varghese you will gain some much needed credibility from the atheist community if you will simply supply the name of the God that Mr. Flew has accepted! Who is his God? Does he have a name? 

If you cannot supply us with this documentation, we cannot help but reach our own conclusions.  Namely, that you have fallen in line with an old maxim, “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. Hopefully, you will not answer by means of silence. Is December 1, 2007 a reasonable amount of time to expect a reply? Would you do us the courtesy to answer, which media source that you will use to answer?

Webmasters Note: As suspected, Roy Varghese failed to answer this challenge and to provide the name of the god that Antony Flew believes in. No answer means no evidence. If anyone can find where Varghese has provided and answer, would you please notify this ex-minister? Until then, Roy A. Varghese lacks credibility! 


Brian Worley


 Brian Worley  November 13, 2007   All rights reserved by the author.


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