I'm in the same boat...neither a professional quant nor a Python guru. I hardly knew Python existed prior to getting involved in Quantopian (although I have a technical background and learned over the years BASIC, Fortran, C/C++, and most recently, MATLAB). You can write algorithms without any of the fancy Python object-oriented jazz. Also, I've been tending to get the data into a numpy array, which can then be manipulated just like in MATLAB (using numpy, scipy, etc.). Once you get a few things down, it's straightforward. With some googling, you can find lots of Python examples.
If you have a simple algorithm that you'd like coded as an example, just post the idea here...somebody can respond with the code to execute it and you'll be off and running!