Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to find God - Documentary on The Alpha Course

Available for another 12 days on 4OD, Revelations: How to find God? a documentary on the Alpha Course at St Aldates Oxford, watching agnostics think things through. A fair-minded and interesting observation of Christians doing evangelism by Jon Ronson. There are some uncomfortable moments for the Christian but worth being aware of how we look.


  1. Its worth watching. Certainly some uncomfortable moments for sure. Blogged about it here:

  2. Was Jon Ronson the commentator?

    Do you think he was fair minded on the group leaders, Charlie Cleverly, or those that claimed religious experiences?

  3. Yes he was, and I thought he was generally pretty positive about the whole thing.

    Yes there were a few jibes made against Charlie for sticking to the Alpha script, and I assume that at least to some extent the leaders were taken out of context on some points some of which might have been justified... like I say, uncomfortable in places.

    Compared to what I was expecting it was good, and respectful of the guy who responded too.

  4. I think you've misinterpreted the subtext of the doc friend. This is actually what a subtly cynical documentary looks like. Ask any film/doc maker that you know. They'll tell you. It was fairly negative.

    The subtlety of the argument was the lack of reasoning, or explanation that was given for the guy who responded. The critique of the bit of paper that he was handed on the weekend away and the way that his back story followed in more detail, than say the comedy writer.

    If you still don't agree then just tell me one thing: were the people who responded presented as having done so for rational or emotional reasons?

  5. Is a religious experience no more than someone talking gobbledegook in a rather bad Michael Bentine impersonation?

  6. I'm not saying it's the best defence of Christianity or Alpha ever made (but it wasn't meant to be that). I don't think it's as cynical as you're suggesting, and even when it is negative there are good points particularly given it was an early evening doc on Channel 4...

  7. Steven,

    That depends on whether it is a genuine or real religious experience, or not.

    Are you honestly open to both possibilities? I am, what about you? You seem like you have your mind made up, which is fine. But do you remain open minded nevertheless?

    I'm not going to set out to defend the argument from religious experience - if you want that then see the chapter on Religious Experience in J.P. Moreland's 'Scaling the Secular City', or the chapter in The Rationality of Theism by Copan.

  8. If I weren't a Christian already, that programme would put me off for life.

  9. I also thought the program was more negative than positive. But it was a subtle negativity, without blatant comment.

    The one alpha "student" who made moves towards accepting it did so because someone sent them a nice note, rather than any resonable response to what was being said.

    @Tom: I think FDH is trolling, judging from his blog I don't think he's very sympathetic to Alpha