I can remember my first reaction to the Bible was off being disturbed by the appallingly unethical actions which were never directly criticized. These unethical actions were done by so called leaders and patriachs, sometimes these people were said to have the spirit of the Lord on them. Why did I not just say to myself, ' I do not believe that a loving, good God would approve of that, these people must have been very mistaken in their assessment of their own behaviour and in their estimation of what a good, loving god might want'
I should have thought to myself, if there was a good loving God then either he would send them a message direct, to inform them that they were mistaken or send an angel with the message. You could say that the actions of O.T. patriachs were criticized by parts of the law but why do you have no recorded criticizm by Jesus or Paul or any other disciples.
I can remember as a child being very fearful after hearing a hell fire damnation sermon and telling my mum I wanted to 'BE SAVED' i did the prayer but it didn't really change anything much. Maybe other people are better at just focusing on the, ' I've signed up, I'm going to heaven now. Now looking back on that night I see it as a step down the staircase to delusion & madness, it was giving in to fears. What I should have said is, 'That is not reality, The main themes of Christianity are fiction, the supernatural realm it suggests does not exist, the ideas of heaven and hell are wildly improbably'. Reject that message and just try to be loving, caring and don't hurt anyone. Just try to do well at school and in a career and everything else will fall into place.
I can remember my early reaction to the hymns in church that they seemed like mumbo jumbo waffle. Why didn't I just say, 'This is nonsense' and think no more of it?
I can remember as a teenager outside the church building just feeling a great sense of gloom about the picture christianity paints of the world. It all seemed just so dark. Then I clicked onto the few verses like 'love you neighbour', 'Treat others as you want them to treat you'. I realised there were a few good ideas in the Bible and I thought maybe under it all there was something I didn't understand, that maybe the message had got twisted a bit. Why then did I grant so much certainty to the doctrine of hell? Well the ministers seemed certain, Scripture Union claimed certainty. I think I always had a wondering if it might not be so. You hope that it isn't so.
If life is like sailing a yacht then there are winds & currents pushing you around that could drive you onto the rocks. The winds/current of my social circle were insisting that the Bible was a message from the gods. I feared I was on the wrong side of that god. I was too afraid just to assert that the Bible was not any sort of message from a god. I tried to see the hidden message in the bible, I thought you needed to solve the parables, riddles and cryptic message in order to get to heaven, I tried to believe in the idea 'trust & believe and be saved'. The winds of my social circle were driving me onto the rocks. I let my fears push me to steer the rudder of thought in a direction that actually made matters worse. Reason says that the bible ideas were no more than guesses and probably false. Now that I go by reason I am doing fine. Going by the idea that the Bible is only guesses allows you to just take a hint or flavour from the Bible without being capsized by it.
I can remember other voices in the media that were more sceptical of the orthodox message I was getting. The voices from the Bishop of Durham, and unbelieving voices on the tv. A friend who said things like put of the matter of whether to become a christian until you are old, the bible says that people won't live past 120 and yet they have, christians should be happy to die if they are going to heaven so why do they pray desparately to be healed from cancer, christianity is a crutch. Did anyone say, 'The bible is fiction' and yet I had the attitude well parts of the bible story are certain fact look there is Israel & the Jews do they think their history wasn't like it says in the Bible. The answer is that while the history in the Bible might have grains of reality in some of its kings having existed, the narrative about them, the detail is legend & fiction. The supernatural realm dimension is fantasy. All the cultures had their hypotheses about the gods and why things happened but that was all fiction. Look at the people to day who claim , this happened because the gods were punishing people or God wants you to do that, it is all deluded guesswork.