Is “The Presumption of Atheism” in Fact a Neutral Procedure? A Critical Examination of Antony Flew’s Position

  • Ewa Odoj The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Faculty of Philosophy, PhD student
Keywords: Antony Flew; “The Presumption of Atheism;” William James; religious beliefs


This article examines the concept of “The Presumption of Atheism” by Antony Flew. Flew claims that at the beginning of a debate on the existence of God we should adopt a standpoint of atheism and the opus of proof lies on the theists. I question different requirements that Flew puts on the representatives of theism and atheism. In responding, I raise an epistemological issue concerning how strong evidence for a particular belief should be in order for one to hold that belief. I claim that this depends on a subject’s circumstances and on his or her individual conditions. By means of these deliberations I try to reveal how various persons could reasonably demand from a theistic belief a different degree of probability than they do from an atheistic one. This shows, I think, that Flew’s procedure does not have to be rational for others, although it could be in his own case.


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