Wrapping up the Alpha course

Over the past few months, I’ve been a participant in a local Alpha course at a mini-megachurch in our area (i.e., a church with about 2,200 members). Alpha is a program aimed at arming Christians with a knowledge of the foundation and tenets of Christian belief. At least, that’s the intended goal; what I experienced was more along the lines of “a bunch of confused multi-denominational Christians who have no idea what the Bible actually says being forced to listen to hour-long lectures from a charming British pastor and engaging in discussions dominated by the course leader and an atheist (me) with more knowledge of Christian doctrine than anyone present.”

I was bored. So sue me.

I’ve been remiss in that I haven’t been blogging about this as it’s gone along, but I’ve got plenty of notes and recordings to review for when I finally do go about describing the experience. In any case, tomorrow night we’ll be having a dinner to wrap up the whole series. I wonder if they’ll be disappointed that I’m still unconvinced… not only that, but that I’m even more convinced than ever that the arguments for Christianity are useless. It just reminded me of all the reasons I started to lose my faith in the first place, and how utterly unsatisfying the apologetics really are.

Another atheist by the name of Stephen Butterfield has also attended an Alpha course and blogged about his experience. He went into great detail about both the subjects covered and the discussions he had; I highly recommend reading the whole series of posts if you’re interested in this sort of thing.

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3 thoughts on “Wrapping up the Alpha course

  1. Pingback: Blogging the Alpha Course: Part 1 « Thoughts from a Godless Heathen

  2. Believer Greg

    I'm wondering what evidence against the existence of God that you're thinking of. I'm a systems engineer, with a masters degree in electrical engineering. Can I share with you 2 things to consider when considering if God exists: very small things and very big things.
    For the small things, the amount of information in biological systems (i.e. DNA in a living cell) is enormous and the odds of the first self-replicating cell starting on its own without an intelligent creator is practically zero. One estimate is one in 10 to the 2000th power. That's a decimal point followed by 1999 zeroes, then a one. Keep in mind there are 10 to the 70 molecules in the known universe. The atheistic (yes, atheistic) book "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins does a very nice job describing the structure and functions of DNA and RNA and why a huge amount of "luck" is needed for life to exist.
    For the big things, fine tuning in the universe is pretty darn impressive. So much so that the most recent atheistic origin of life researchers I've read are talking about there must be something on the order of 10 to the tens of thousand power of parallel universes. A tiny problem is that the evidence for parallel universes is a little hard to find.
    Bottom line, the numbers don't add up for the universe and life to be here without an intelligent designer.

    Reply
  3. MikeTheInfidel Post author

    For the small things, the amount of information in biological systems (i.e. DNA in a living cell) is enormous and the odds of the first self-replicating cell starting on its own without an intelligent creator is practically zero. One estimate is one in 10 to the 2000th power. That's a decimal point followed by 1999 zeroes, then a one. Keep in mind there are 10 to the 70 molecules in the known universe.

    "Predicting" events that have already happened is pointless. Imagine the number of atoms in any given grain of sand. Now, imagine the number of possible ways those atoms could be arranged. What are the chances that they'd just happen to be in the arrangement they're in, without an intelligent design? Practically zero. And yet… trillions of grains of sand, no intelligent sand-maker.

    Think of the number of sperm any male of reproductive age will produce in his lifetime. Now think of how many eggs the average woman has in her body. Multiply those together. Then multiply those by the number of generations we've seen just going back to the first anatomically modern humans some 200,000 years ago. What are the chances that all those sperm-egg pairs would match up and result in you? Practically zero. And yet… here you are.

    Moreover, anyone who claims to know the chances of a self-reproducing cell forming is lying, considering that no human being knows what those chances are.

    For the big things, fine tuning in the universe is pretty darn impressive. So much so that the most recent atheistic origin of life researchers I've read are talking about there must be something on the order of 10 to the tens of thousand power of parallel universes. A tiny problem is that the evidence for parallel universes is a little hard to find.

    Fine tuned for what, exactly? The universe is better designed for producing black holes than it is for producing life. Something on the order of 99.999999999999999999…% of the universe would kill any living thing instantly.

    Bottom line, the numbers don't add up for the universe and life to be here without an intelligent designer.

    Nope. Bottom line, the evidence points to an undesigned universe where life arose by chance.

    Reply

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