Thursday, June 26, 2008

Robert Stovold on the Alpha Course turning away sceptics

Robert Stovold sent me the following email, which shows why Alpha Course leaders have to refuse sceptics to attend their courses....

Robert Stovold is often on Premier Christian Radio on Unbelievable

Hi Steven
I discovered your review of Professor Ward's book via the link in your "Premier Christian Radio" post, and think the review is excellent. I've only just begun to look at the rest of your extensive site, and was amused to read of your experience on Alpha Courses. I think we must be kindred spirits (if you'll excuse the phrase), as I like going to Alpha Courses too! The trouble is, I keep getting kicked off for asking awkard questions! You may be interested in a piece I wrote for the newsletter of my local humanist group:

I was thrown off an Alpha Course at Church of Christ the King (CCK) for asking critical (but perfectly reasonable) questions. People who favour biblical literalism and the idea that the Earth is only 6-10,000 years old don't take kindly to an informed sceptic such as myself (I have three degrees in the biological sciences, and attend such courses in order to debunk pseudoscientific nonsense). I'll never forget the 'Holy Spirit night' I attended on my first Alpha Course. One of the organisers came to me with a message from God: 'God wants you to be less critical'. I'll bet he does! As Corporal Jones would say, 'They don't like it up 'em!'

I registered for another course this January but, in a wonderfully-worded email from CCK, I was turned down: 'We are pausing in saying “Yes” to you attending Alpha at the moment'. Their email confirmed what I had earlier suspected: that the Alpha Course preys on desperate people ('those who are at that point in life when other options are closing down'), and that its primary aim is to prop up the fragile faith of existing Christians rather than to win genuine new converts ('By far the biggest pool of people attending Alpha would be those who for whatever reason have started to attend Sunday church'). This is at odds with the declaration on Alpha's official website that Alpha is 'designed primarily for people who aren't churchgoers, and each course is open to everyone who would like to attend.' But then a statement such as 'The Alpha Course is primarily for lapsed Christians who are clutching at straws' wouldn't read so well, would it?

Having been turned down, I wrote a leaflet called "Religion or Reason?", and with Bill McIlroy's help distributed it to people as they entered CCK. A course organiser demonstrated the Christian spirit of love and tolerance by ordering us to go away. "We're staying put", said Bill firmly. "We're on public ground, you can't touch us!". The organiser disappeared into the building only to re-emerge a few minutes later with a leaflet of his own. I read the first few lines of emotive testimony therein, and asked, "Is this just personal testimony, or does it actually contain objective evidence?"

"It's personal testimony" he replied, seemingly without any embarrassment at all.
My leaflet, on the other hand is jam-packed full of evidence and argument, and can be downloaded for free from my website:

All the best, and keep up the good work!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

John Twisleton on Premier Christian Radio

At John Twisleton answers frequently asked questions, as part of Premier Christian Radio's output.

I had a Debate with John Twisleton where I hammered him on the evidence for the resurrection.

Like all true believes, John has responded to getting his beliefs thumped by simply burying his head in the sand and pretending that he has arguments for his claims that somebody walked on water and ascended into Heaven.

Christianity - ignoring facts since 33 AD.....

Friday, June 06, 2008

Christians hear voices in their head

Noted Christian apologist JP Moreland claims he hears voices in his head.

The voices in my head tell me what to do

' I talked about how the Spirit sometimes speaks/leads by placing thoughts in our minds (see Nehemiah 2:12) and I shared the phenomenology as to how I have made progress in discerning those occasions in my own life.'

Why should somebody be taken seriously when they admit that they think the voices in their head are real?