- Initial announcement
- Week 1: "Doesn't science disprove Christianity?
- Week 2: Does God exist?
- Week 3: The Problem of Pain
- Week 4: Doesn't the church produce hypocrites and injustices?
- Week 5: Is the Bible reliable?
- Week 6: Who was Jesus?
- Week 7: Could there be just one true religion?
- Week 8: The next step
Although the course was entitled "God and Reason", this was (as I guessed) a misnomer. Reason played very little role in what was presented, with the last presenter, John North, even disparaging reason as a tool for understanding the world. A much more representative title would have been "Why you should be a Christian" or (as the presenters sometimes called the course) "Christianity 101".
The course was largely evangelical in nature. There was not that much scholarly content. The usual evangelical claims were presented, and only rarely was there any acknowledgment that these claims were controversial or debated or (even, in some cases) largely abandoned by serious scholars. One claim, made by Prof. Matthews, that there are "85,000 quotations from or allusions to the NT in documents of early church fathers, 100-200 CE", seems very likely to be false. I raised this issue with Prof. Matthews but never received a response about it.
It was clear that much of the reason for being a Christian was based on emotion and culture, rather than reason.
By far the best talks were given by Robert Mann. This is probably, in part, because he has given a course covering some of the content of his lectures before, and also because I think he takes more seriously the objections of non-believers. He also had the best argument, which is the argument of "fine-tuning", although I don't find it very convincing.
It also didn't seem to me that the professors (with the exception of Robert Mann) were really interested in answering the challenging questions put forth by some in the audience. It seems we were more of an annoyance than offering a chance to explain some questionable point in Christian doctrine in more detail.
Not everybody seemed to agree with me. I saw some comments on Facebook that said things like "I love this course! It is the best one out of all of the courses I have taken so far at university because "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge"."
Overall, I would give this course a "C-", with some sessions (those of Robert Mann) getting an "B+".
How could the course be better? For one thing, I'd like to hear people who are really experts in the fields they address. Why no religion professor? Why no historian specializing in the middle East of Jesus' time?
Here's another idea. Guy Harrison has a new book out, entitled "50 Simple Questions for Every Christian". I haven't read the whole book yet, but there are significant excerpts on amazon and here, and it seems really good. I'd love to see a short course built around that book, where Christian academics do their best to answer the questions that skeptics usually ask. It would have been a lot more interesting than what was presented.