The only time that an appeal to popularity has any weight is when the evidence behind that popularity can be examined, and seen to be sound. For example, I could point out that the vast majority of the scientific community accepts evolution, and you could say I'm just appealing to popularity. However, we could then examine why these people believe evolution is correct. I'm not using the popularity of the belief itself as evidence of that belief, which is what you're doing.
One of the biggest problems of an appeal to popularity is when you have two popular, mutually-contradictory beliefs. Christians believe Jesus was divine in some manner (which varies, depending on the sect). Muslims believe Jesus was not divine in any way. Clearly, these cannot both be true. Logic shows us that at least one
of these beliefs must be false.
Was there a Man named Muhammed?
History seems to think so. There are contemporary records of the life of Mohammed, so I have no trouble believing he existed. I don't believe all the claims about him, though. For example, I do believe he was a real person. I do believe he started the religion of Islam. I do not believe he was visited by an angel (mainly because I do not believe in angels). I do not believe he ascended to Heaven on a flying horse (both because I don't believe in a supernatural realm called Heaven, and because horses do not fly).
Was there a real Jesus?
I believe there were people named Jesus (or whatever the ancient Hebrew version of the name was). Even if it was an uncommon name, I'm sure it was around. It's even popular today among some groups. However, I think it unlikely that the singular Jesus referred to in the Bible was a real person, since there is little to no contemporary evidence of this, and I certainly do not believe that this singular person, if he did exist, actually did the miracles attributed to him in Christian teachings.
Was there a real Joseph Smith?
Yes. There are numerous contemporary accounts of his life, including the fact that he was put on trial for defrauding people. While the outcome of the trial is in doubt (records being lost, etc), it seems probable that he was a simple con man. I do not believe that the finding of the 'golden plates' ever really happened, and moreover, I highly doubt that Smith believed it either. He started by fleecing gullible people who believed he could find treasure by looking at a rock in his hat, and progressed to fleecing his followers in much the same manner as modern-day 'God needs your money, praise the lord!' televangelists.
Can one find enlightenment through meditation?
It depends what you mean. I believe people can reflect on (ie, think about) things they believe and feel, and come to conclusions. Meditation might help clear your mind of distracting thoughts, so you can focus on something, and it might very well reduce stress by calming and relaxing you. There's nothing supernatural about any of this. For me, I often find that there are things that help me feel more focused or more relaxed, such as listening to music or cuddling with my cat (and yes, there have been studies that indicate pets can help reduce stress).
However, I do not believe that sitting cross-legged and saying 'om' is going to magically open you up to outside forces, or anything like that.
I understand there is an element of spirituality that people make up, they want to believe, they need an answer, even scientists tap into this idea of there is more knowledge out there than what we know and we must discover it. But to say, you made all that up in your own mind is just absurd.
I agree. It's quite clear your beliefs have enough in common with those of other Christians that it wasn't all made up by you. In fact, most of it was made up long before you were born, in a series of gradual embellishments to make the myth more palatable, or more impressive, or resolve some doctrinal dispute, etc. Most of what you contribute consists of your rationalizations to explain the various inconsistencies or other problems of your belief system.
And since we are in an arena that demands proof, what have you to your claim that it is made up?
Try to understand. You are the one making the positive claims (ie, 'God exists', 'the Bible is true', etc). Thus, you hold the burden of proof. In a court of law, the prosecution holds the burden of proof. They can't just flip that around and say 'Well, the defense claims their client is innocent, so they need to prove it'. That is called 'shifting the burden of proof'.
Our 'claim', as you put it, is simply our expression of being unconvinced. You have not supplied evidence, much less convincing evidence, so the only logical conclusion is that your statements are false. Whether you are intentionally lying or honestly believe the claims you're making has absolutely zero bearing
on whether those claims are true or false, and in the absence of evidence, those claims are unsupported
Because of Justice. What is just. for a criminal to go unpunished? No. One must pay the price for one's actions. In society we base it on what we think is fair. "Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" but that is for the action. What is the consequence for rejecting God? That would be Hell, according to the scriptures. What is just is that anyone who chooses to say, there is no God or I don't want your forgiveness, I can do it on my own, I am smarter than you, I am independant and in no need of a savior. Then that person has made themselves to be the supreme authority in there life. In essence they have become their own god. And the penalty is eternal hell, according to the scriptures. What frustrates me is that we (humans) don't agree with sin. We blame God for the opportunity, we blame God for our weakness, and we blame God for our judgement. That just doesn't make sense.
Blah blah, woof woof. I've asked it before in this post, but it bears repeating: how is infinite punishment for a finite infraction at all fair, or just? Humans have a finite lifespan. There is no transgression, however great, that we could do that should merit infinite punishment, but that is what your Bible holds up as 'just' and evidence of the 'goodness' and 'mercy' of your deity.
If God created us and gave us no choice but to follow Him, to believe in Him, we wouldn't be free at all.
True. However, the Calvinists believe that the chosen cannot resist choosing God. In other words, he takes away their free will. They even have scripture to back up this point of view.
Besides, for you to say that people cannot help being sinful is to say they have no choice. We get punished for doing something we have no choice about. It's like punishing people for breathing.
It is my job to train up my children in the way that they should go. I am to represent what a good father does. In the real world there are consequences. You steal, you go to jail. If I don't discipline, if I don't follow God's example in scripture, then I will have to also give account for that when I am judged.
but underlying all of this is love. God shows his love when He disciplines, and I love my children and in order to do what is best for them, I discipline them as well.
Does that mean you would have your children stoned to death for disobedience, as the Bible commands? Would you support the right of other parents to have their children stoned to death? Why or why not? Oh, and please don't use the 'that is in the OT, which Jesus did away with', because we know from the NT that Jesus said those laws were still in effect.
Why would you not leave a loaded gun in reach of your child? Because of the potential for an accident. I don't want them in harms way. Thats the human way right. Protect them from danger. But at the same time, if I see them walking toward an obstacle and I just told them to watch where they are going, I will let them trip and fall. I count the cost, and if it is worth it, I let them discover for themselves that there are consequences for disobedience. In either case whether I remove the danger, or am not there when danger presents itself. The absolute truth is that there are consequences. The good thing is that I love my children and no matter what they do, I will always love them. But that will not change the fact that I will discipline them too.
It seems you missed the point. The tree in question was not some random danger that just happened to be present. It was something placed in the garden with NO OTHER PURPOSE than to POSE a danger to Adam and Eve. Just as you would not leave a loaded gun next to your child, a loving deity would not put such a tree in the garden, especially
not without putting up some barrier (such as a high fence with a locked gate).
Imagine if a parent were to deliberately leave a loaded gun next to their child while telling the child not to touch it, and then left the room. Suddenly, there is a gunshot, and the child is either maimed or killed. Do you think the parent bears any responsibility? By your own reasoning, the child was told not to, they disobeyed, so the consequences should be borne by them and them alone. In reality, we see this as criminal negligence, and punish the parent accordingly. Your refusal to leave such a loaded gun next to your child shows that you're aware of the danger, you know kids sometimes disobey, and so you act accordingly. God, according to the Bible, did not. Worse, while you might claim that you didn't know the child would get hurt (having warned them not to touch it), God does not have this excuse. As an all-knowing being, he knew the result, and put the tree there anyways.
Now, let's look at what the Bible says, hmm? In the Bible, God warns Adam not to eat from the tree because it will bring death on the day he eats from it. Now, ignoring for a minute the fact that Eve was not given this restriction (having not even been created at this point), what were the actual consequences?
The first was that neither Adam nor Eve died 'that day' as a result of eating the fruit. In other words, either GOD LIED, or THE BIBLE GOT IT WRONG.
The second is that 'sin' entered the life of Adam and Eve, and all their descendants. In other words, WE are being punished for something that SOMEONE ELSE did. Do you punish your children for things you know that other people, and NOT your children, do?
The bible doesn't teach to kill your first born girl
Once again, you entirely missed the point. The reference was to the Bible story about the Jews in Egypt. Moses demanded freedom, the pharaoh refused. God 'hardened his heart' to make him say no (in other words, the pharaoh had no choice, as God really did make him do it). One of the punishments for pharaoh's action was for God to kill all the first-born sons of Egypt. In other words, not only did the pharaoh have no choice, but God didn't punish him for it; he instead punished a bunch of innocent people.
Now, it's clear to most of us that this is just a story. I suspect the main purpose was to show God's power over those backward and evil pagan Egyptians who didn't worship the Hebrew deity as they rightly should have, but that's just my opinion. The fact of the matter is that there is no known contemporary Egyptian record of this mass death of first-born sons. Don't you think that if EVERY SINGLE FIRST-BORN SON IN AN ENTIRE COUNTRY DIED AT ONCE that it might be, oh I don't know, NEWSWORTHY? Maybe worth WRITING DOWN IN YOUR PEOPLE'S HISTORY? There is no evidence of this, and because the claim is so unprecedented, and so extraordinary, and ABSOLUTELY LACKING IN ANY FUCKING EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER, we can SAFELY DISMISS THE CLAIM AS FALSE. The same is true of the other wildly fantastic claims in mythology, like Jesus coming back to life after being dead for three days, or Athena springing fully-formed from Zeus's head after it was split open on account of the mother of all migraines, or Mohammed ascending to Heaven on a magical 'my little pony, flying edition', or any other such nonsense.
Nor can you use the Bible to back up your claims, any more than I can use a book on ancient Greek mythology as evidence that the skies really are
held up by the giant Atlas, who Perseus turned to stone.
this has 2 major assumptions, 1 that the child would inevitably hurt themselves. Not every child who plays with a loaded gun accidentlally injures themself or others. 2 the situation could have been easily avoided. There are parents who hide guns well, who lock doors, who strenously avoid those situation who have lost their children to accidental gun play.
Ahh, but you're forgetting two things. First, God is omniscient, so he would know whether or not the child would play with the gun (or eat from the tree). Second, God is omnipotent, so has the power to make it impossible to play with the gun at all (or eat from the tree), without abrogating free will. For example, making the gun (or tree) cease to exist will solve the issue. I expect it would be pretty hard for a child to injure themselves with their parent's gun if neither parent had a gun.
most of the world's top tp's no longer accept tbbt mainly because it does not provide cause and effect.
This is untrue, mainly because that theory has nothing to do with the 'cause' of the universe. The theory states only that at one point in the distant past, the universe was composed of a singularity that expanded. That's it. It does not attempt to say what caused the singularity, or what came before it, or any of that. Arguing the theory is flawed because it doesn't explain these things is a strawman argument in much the same manner as creationists who argue against evolution because it doesn't explain life's origins. Here's a clue: IT'S NOT INTENDED TO.
My personal opinion would be too lengthy, it would require a book, suffice it to say that I question the flaws in both areas (science and religion). However, science does not answer many of the questions, that in my opinion can only be answered with involvement of a superior-being.
So, in your opinion, these questions can only be answered by positing a deity of some sort. Okay. Well, since you're hung up on cause and effect, what caused (or created, if you prefer) this deity?
To refute arguments like 'it always existed' or 'having a net energy of zero, it could have spontaneously appeared' as explanations for the origin of the universe, and then use them (or similar arguments) to explain the existence of a deity/creator/whatever is special pleading.
They were not mindless, animals before the fall. They were given intellect, were given the ability to communicate, to function as humans do, they were perfect in everyway. What they didn't know was evil. They had no experience rebelling against God. The fruit if eaten, would give them the knowledge of that. They had knowledge of the outcome. There is no reason to believe they were like a 2 yr old who even though you warn them, or not capable of making a good decision and leaving the gun alone. That is why your analogy breaks down, and why my analogy had nothing to do with the fall.
Actually, before they ate from the tree, they had virtually no knowledge whatsoever. Thus, while Adam may have known he was told not to eat from the tree, he wouldn't have understood that it was 'wrong' to do so. Besides, it's reasonable to conclude that the serpent was also placed there by God, right? Thus, if the serpent (which, incidentally, told the truth where God lied) said it was okay, what cause did Adam have to doubt the serpent's words?
Once again, I must point out that Eve was not given the same instruction as Adam, and punishing all humanity for the transgression of one or two of their descendants is certainly not good, fair, or just by any measure, save the warped measure of believers in Biblegod.
Lets assume that God does know what could be done to prevent it, how to design it so that it isn't even necessary, and let's assume another trait of God, that he doesn't lie
The only problem with that assumption (beyond that it presupposes that God really exists, of course) is that the Bible clearly depicts God lying to Adam about the tree and the consequences for eating from it.
It teaches that what we do doesn't just effect us, it effects our neighbors. We can't claim innocence just because we didn't pull the trigger so to speak. It stands true today in america, if you are with the guys who rob a store and kill the employee, you will be charged for murder.
What if you're not born until thousands of years after the robbery/murder? Still think it's fair to be punished for it? Biblegod evidently thinks so.
Heaven is something that is beyond words, or comprehension.
Beyond comprehension is an apt descriptor. Think about it for a minute: if there is free will in Heaven, then it is possible to sin (ie, make the 'wrong' choice). If Heaven is to be without sin, there can be no free will. This means one of three things: 1) A sin-free Heaven exists, but there is no free will there. 2) Heaven exists, free will exists there, and given the sinful nature of humanity, will be full of sin if anybody besides God is allowed in. 3) Heaven does not exist at all.
Let me ask you a hypothetical question. If I create an intelligent, self-aware machine, program this machine, and then set it loose to do its own thing, am I responsible if it hurts someone? Why or why not?
It takes a pretty arrogant person to claim they have enough understanding of how everything works, and how everything God has done has happened to say whether or not it was a righteous thing or not. I don't have it, and I don't believe any human does.
By that reasoning, since we cannot judge right and wrong, why put murderers, rapists, and thieves in jail? After all, we don't know what God's plan for these people is, or whether their actions were righteous, so let's just leave them on the street.