Alpha Course: Reviewed

by Stephen Butterfield

Name: Stephen Butterfield
Gender: Male
Age: 38 (As of November 2009)
Location: Yorkshire, England

“Whenever a man believes that he has the exact truth from God, there is in that man no spirit of compromise. He has not the modesty born of the imperfections of human nature; he has the arrogance of theological certainty and the tyranny born of ignorant assurance.”Robert G. Ingersoll

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6 Comments »

  1. Hi Stephen,

    Did you take up the Alpha Course with a genuine interest in seeking out the Truth? I think not, if I guess correctly. I have read some of your review.

    The reason I bring this up is that God has given us just enough light to be able to see if we want to, but not so much that we would be compelled to believe if we did not wish to. You may not like it, but that’s just the way it is.

    At some point in their lives, people need an encounter with God. Maybe through circumstances, or through a change of heart. Here’s some hard-earned advice coming from a former atheist: You’d do well to steer clear of internet forums (ironic, I know). They are a bastion of stupidity, of all stripes.

    God bless you,

    Sandeep

    Comment by Sandeep | November 26, 2015

  2. Hi Sandeep,

    Yes I did take up the Alpha Course with a genuine interest in seeking out the truth. However, I didn’t find any of the arguments to be particularly convincing.

    Maybe I missed something?

    Best wishes,

    Stephen.

    Comment by Stephen Butterfield | November 26, 2015

  3. Thanks for your quick response. Perhaps I mistook your motivation in taking the course.

    Yes, I never used to find the arguments for Christianity convincing as well. But the odd thing is, if you ever become a Christian, you’ll find the arguments of Richard Dawkins (for example) not very convincing either. So what’s the resolution to this problem? You can try a few things, if you want to continue seeking:

    1. Pray to Jesus (this is the best course of action, but you may not be ready for this).

    2. Try your best to view the case for Christianity less as a series of watertight arguments. You cannot “prove” or “disprove” any worldview based on an intellectual argument, including atheism. The mistake I used to make as an atheist is that I assumed that my position was rock-solid, and that the Christians were mere “deluded wafflers” who didn’t want to engage with reality. This made me unconsciously raise the bar for what constitutes a convincing defense of Christianity. Well, reality isn’t as simple as that. You may find that examining your own presuppositions, in as unbiased a manner as possible, will lead you to question the validity of atheism. When you get to that stage, you’re ready for the seeking part.

    (For the purpose of this post, I had to assume that you’re an atheist, or secular humanist, based on the Links section of the sidebar.)

    Comment by Sandeep | November 27, 2015

  4. Hi Sandeep,

    You mentioned earlier that you’ve read some of my review. If you read all of it you’ll realise that I’ve already tried praying to Jesus. Also I’m not quite sure what you meant when you suggested that I should question the validity of my atheism. Again, if you read my review you will get a better understanding of my position. I am an atheist in the sense that I do not possess the belief that God exists. Not much more than that really.

    All the best,

    Comment by Stephen Butterfield | November 27, 2015

  5. I didn’t mean to tell you to directly question the validity of your atheism. That would be impossible. If you read my statement carefully, you’ll see that I suggested that you question the presuppositions (assumptions) behind your atheism.

    For one thing, you’d have to examine if you are putting your trust in the wrong authority figures. For example, I assume you have read some of the popular works of Richard Dawkins and Richard Carrier. Are you aware that there are arguments opposing their views? Have you truly engaged with these arguments on your own? For example, Dawkins is roundly criticized for regularly stepping outside of his field of expertise, with a lot of the criticism coming from atheists themselves. And Richard Carrier doesn’t seem to reflect the majority opinion of scholars of antiquity. Is there any particular reason you’d listen to these voices over the other voices in our culture?

    Comment by Sandeep | November 27, 2015

  6. Hi Sandeep,

    “I assume you have read some of the popular works of Richard Dawkins and Richard Carrier.”
    Yes I have.

    “Are you aware that there are arguments opposing their views?”
    Of course.

    “Dawkins is roundly criticized for regularly stepping outside of his field of expertise, with a lot of the criticism coming from atheists themselves.”
    Yes, I’m aware of that.

    “And Richard Carrier doesn’t seem to reflect the majority opinion of scholars of antiquity.”
    That’s right. His mythicist position is most certainly a minority viewpoint. I don’t agree with him.

    “Is there any particular reason you’d listen to these voices over the other voices in our culture?”
    I’m not so sure that I do. If I remember correctly the only time I quoted Carrier in my review was when he was dismissing the work of an opponent of Christianity (Kersey Graves).

    Best wishes,

    Comment by Stephen Butterfield | November 27, 2015


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