Is there really a God?

We'll try to tackle three questions in this opening evening, just to lay a good basis for everything else that's to come.

First we'll ask: what do we know from the world around us? Has science disproved it all? Does history show that religions are good for humans, or do they just start wars and intolerance? We won't tell you what to think; we'll give you some of the evidence that makes us believe in God, but you're welcome to criticize it as severely as you like. (We won't be offended; in fact we'll be disappointed if you don't tell us honestly what you really think.)

Then we'll have a look inside ourselves, and ask: are there any signposts in the way we're made and the way we think, which might just point towards a God who created us? Believers often say they are. Could they be right, or are they just being fanciful?

Finally, we need to have a good look at the evidence against God. There's plenty of evil in the world, so if he made it, what's he playing at? If he wants us to know him, why so many different religions, all competing with one another? He can't be very good at making himself clear, can he? And what about the people who claim to believe. They can be bigoted, irrational, homophobic, hate-filled, vindictive, superstitious, hypocritical, money-grabbing, and status-seeking - can't they? So does "knowing God" actually make a positive difference to humans, or does the whole God thing just mess them up?

All of that in ninety minutes? You're right, we may not get all of those questions properly dealt with. But at least we'll start them off. And there's one thing you need to know about our courses: although we've made little videos and printed manuals with discussion questions and so on, we don't always stick to the plan. If people really want to focus a bit more on one particular question, or even tackle a question we haven't planned to ask, that's fine. As long as the group are happy with it, we'll scrap the plan for the evening and just do what seems most important.

After all, the whole point of this exercise is to help you think through the questions you have - not the ones that we think you should have! So if we go off the beaten track, no worries.

(What if the rest of the group don't want to explore something, but you do?! No problem there either. We can suggest stuff you can read, or any of us can meet you for a personal chat in between the group sessions - we're always glad to do this, and the coffees - or pints! - are on us.)

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