Tag Archive | Discussion

What I wish atheists knew: Christians know the arguments

Thinking KidWay back when I was an annoyingly keen God-botherer and both the internet and The Simpsons were still pretty new, I remember someone finding a cartoon of annoying questions to ask your Sunday School teacher from The Simpsons, similar (maybe even identical) to this one from a Catholic group. That list, with speech bubbles put into the mouths of various children from the series, was pinned up on the church noticeboard and stayed there for months, becoming a popular topic of conversation.

Some people just wanted to read and laugh, some liked to suggest their own annoying questions, and some took pleasure in answering the questions seriously, or discussing and investigating what the answers would be, much like the responses at Cathfam.

Why do I mention this? Because it sometimes seems that atheists expect Christians to be completely floored by questions like these. Read More…


My Alpha experience – why I consider the course to be cynical and dishonest

The Independent recently ran an article gushing with praise for the Alpha Course, calling it “British Christianity’s biggest success story“. I can understand that in a world where results are what gets you noticed, but having attended an Alpha Course once upon a time, I still find it both appalling and wryly amusing that the church is putting so much weight on a course that’s so fundamentally dishonest.

HallelujahI went on the course at a time when I was feeling uncertain of my faith, the best part of ten years ago. I thought a return to the basics might be just what I needed, so I booked myself in and prepared to ask my questions.

Before I go any further, and to forestall common defences of Alpha, I want to emphasise that I was under no illusions about the theology of the course, but that was what I wanted at the time, and I desperately wanted to believe. I also know that courses vary massively in tone and content, even though this is against the wishes of Nicky Gumbel and Holy Trinity Brompton, but the course I attended worked through the standard videos and books. What I experienced was the very core of Alpha. Read More…

How can we change delusional beliefs?

That’s a fairly imposing title, isn’t it? I obviously don’t believe in making it easy for myself.

This all stems from my previous thoughts about how tenaciously we cling onto our existing beliefs, and a recent discussion about what that means for how we should go about convincing people to let go of beliefs that are clearly wrong and potentially damaging. This is meant to be about the process, not the beliefs, so to avoid discussion of the rights and wrongs of particular beliefs, let’s say you have a friend who belongs to a group called the Bargles, who believe that black is white, and (because sometimes we decide to let these things go for the sake of friendship) that for some reason it would be dangerous to just leave him to his beliefs. Read More…

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