Why Jeff Crawford is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong–Part 1
Ok folks, it’s time for another sermon review. This one is from Jeff Crawford at Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I love this guy. He’s friendly, writes well, and is an excellent speaker. He was even nice enough to give me a gift: A sermon on apologetics. Dude, you shouldn’t have!
Here we go:
As we as a church, as a people of God, endeavor to move out from the walls of our churches and to actually reach a lost and dying world, there are going to be people who will rise up and will think that we are crazy. Crazy! How could anybody believe what we believe? How could a reasonable person really believe in God?
One thing I learned coming out of religion is that people’s expectations strongly drive what they see. We conveniently ignore things that don’t fit our expectations, and we inflate the importance of things that seem to fit our worldview. That’s why the scientific method is so important to science; it prevents your opinions from coloring the results.
Throughout this sermon, Jeff constantly reminds the audience that atheists think Christians are crazy. He then quickly assures them that they are actually very reasonable. This colors the audience’s view of the arguments given in the sermon. They are expected to be indignant. “Pshaw! How dare anyone think I’m crazy?”
This is made worse by the fact that of the arguments stated, none of the common refutations are even mentioned. It is simply stated that atheists think Christians are crazy, and that’s that. People are led to believe that atheists think Christians are crazy for no reason at all other than sheer incredulity. Many famous atheists are quoted, of course. But somehow, Pastor Jeff could only manage to find the offensive quotes from them. You’d think, with all the effort it took to find those quotes, that maybe he might have stumbled past the refutations to the arguments he was giving.
Nope. Refutations to our arguments don’t matter. Christians are only interested in hearing things that reinforce views they already hold.
The Cosmological Argument
After going on about postmodernism and relativism for a while, he finally hits on the Cosmological argument. For those who don’t know, it goes like this:
- Everything that exists must have a cause.
- If you follow the chain of events backwards through time, it cannot go back infinitely, so eventually you arrive at the first cause.
- This cause must, itself, be uncaused.
- But nothing can exist without a cause, except for God.
- Therefore, God exists.
Of this argument, he says:
And somewhere back there, you gotta have a first. And somewhere back there, you just get to the point where you realize that there has to be, there just has to be something, someone that is outside of everything that just started it all. And it’s God.
And that’s not crazy. That’s just kinda really common sense.
The way you say there has to be a first cause, with such fervor and excitement, it makes me think what you really mean is that you want there to be a first cause. You’re letting your own desires color your view of the evidence. I have yet to hear a single reason why the chain of causation can’t have existed forever. It’s simply stated as fact with no supporting evidence. Why does there have to be a first cause?
Of course, the most common response to this argument is, “Who created God? Where did this God come from? Who created him? Was it another God? If not, then why is God able to be uncaused, but the universe isn’t?” When you say the universe must have a cause, but God doesn’t need one, that’s Special Pleading. Everything must have a cause, except for our God, who has a special exemption.
Also, what makes you think the first cause has to be a God? Maybe it was some sort of special, unintelligent particle. The qualities you’re ascribing to this “first cause” are assumptions that haven’t been justified.
Even though the issues I’m raising with this argument are very commonly known, they aren’t mentioned at all in the sermon. It’s just implied that the atheists’ only response is that the Cosmological argument is “crazy”.
The Moral Argument
The next argument he brings up is the Moral Argument. It says that because people inherently know the difference between right and wrong, that means God must exist. Let’s just step through an example on this one:
People enjoy being alive. They also enjoy the company of their friends and family. Murder causes immense suffering and pain to victim’s loved ones. Since death can’t be undone, it should be chosen very sparingly lest these consequences occur. I don’t want to live in a society where anyone could kill me for any reason. In order for me to ensure others don’t hurt me, I have to agree to not hurt others. It’s part of the contract of living in a civil society. I also care about the well-being of others. I don’t want to see them suffer.
Was that so hard? Maybe people “inherently know” the difference between right and wrong because it’s stupefyingly obvious. I don’t really get why you need to have a supernatural deity to explain it.
Ultimately, though, this comes down to an Argument From Ignorance. Because you don’t personally understand where morals could have come from, you assume God exists. The problem is, that’s a positive assertion which requires evidence. A lack of understanding can’t be used as evidence to support a proposition.
At the end of this, he says:
It’s a pretty complex argument, but that’s the gist of it.
I don’t understand why people keep saying this. No. No, it’s not that complicated. Most of the time, people overthink it.
Man, this stuff takes a long time to write about. I’ll finish up the rest in Part 2. Coming up: Intelligent Design and why the Bible is soooo much better than the Koran.