This is the second part of a response to this discussion started in this post. The first part is here. When greeneggsandtam started responding to this, she found that she had to break up her response into 6 fragments, and so suggested we continue in this community.
This particular section is a response to her comments in part 2, items 3 and 4. It makes a lot more sense if you read her items (and maybe some of the back discussion), and then follow here.
3) This is a particularly difficult section for me to respond to, from a couple of points.
For one thing, I'm far from being a bible scholar. My parents encouraged me to read the bible when I was younger, as an important cultural document. Unfortunately, at that age, I obsessively read things front to back - and completely ran out of interest somewhere in the tribal genealogy. As I understand it, most oral traditions involve some level of frequently repeated birth record. I just wasn't prepared to run into one that had been so reprinted, and then studied by people who weren't even related.
For another, we're going to approach the book from completely different mindsets. I'm reasonably good at getting my head into other people's realities, but I'm still going to be largely looking at it as an interesting mish-mash of mythology and tribal record, which has since been retranslated too many times for its own good.
Your Adam and Eve thing is a very cogent example. Most tribal groups consider themselves the only real people, and their creation myths are about their creation. It's not particularly difficult then to make sense of Adam and Eve being the first people, having many children, and those children finding spouses - from the already existing pool of "non-people."
From what I've seen - and mirroring some of what you said - one of the "jumps" between the old and new testaments is the transition from "My God" to "The God." I believe it's rather telling that the second commandment is "You shall have no other gods before me," mostly because it freely admits to the existence of other gods. In fact, the phrase even indicates that paying some passing respect to another god is fine.
So all I can really say is that, from my limited exposure, I've haven't seen much evidence of a loving god. A vengeful one, definitely. Worlds flooded (though, um, it seems some wives appeared from "non-peoples" there, too), towns razed to the ground, kings punished for not killing off women and children - just a whole world of nastiness.
And yes, something must be done when a rule is broken. But there's something wrong with any being whose standard punishment for any transgression appears to be death for you, your family, your slaves, your livestock, and frequently your neighbors.
So I guess you're just going to have to come up with some examples of this all-pervading OT love you're talking about.
As far as being able to take on faith that there's some good reason why Jesus showed up so many years later, well, that is perfectly fine, if you're one of the faithful. This is one of those mindset problems.
I just can't help thinking of all those generations of people that were completely screwed simply because they were born too early.
On the "free will" thing - I don't have a huge problem with a being wanting to be loved freely. Seems a tad insecure, but OK. I have a little more problem with said being creating rules, and then creating creatures with built-in instincts to transgress those rules. If you don't want gays, don't build men who are only attracted to other men.
And most importantly, if you do that, don't get your panties in a wad when people don't measure up. There are so many transgressions that are an automatic damning. I mean, doubt his existence for even a second, and that's it, man, game over: Go to hell, do not collect $200.
4) Ah, the whole Hindu/Buddhist thing. I'm actually less enamored of Buddhism than I used to be, but there are still a number of fascinating concepts.
First of all, maya, which I mentioned earlier. Maya is simply the concept that all we see is illusion. The original concept of The Matrix, if you will. I'm not sure why I find it all that interesting, but I do.
Moving on to Buddhism proper, I find the eigthfold path to be an excellent map for how to live a life. Just the general concept that both asceticism and hedonism are ridiculous extremes to be avoided appeals to my sense of what's right.
Of course, the fact that you're doing so in hopes that you're going to die and finally stay dead doesn't.
Ah well. Can't have everything.
Moving on to part 3, item 5:
While I'm not arguing against the bible, per se, I am arguing against the existence of an ultimate entity. Granted, purely from the standpoint of Occam's Razor.
If an incredibly complex entity is required to create what is, as far as we can tell, a much less complex universe, then what even more complex entity was necessary to create the first one? And so on, going back forever.
If, instead - and as seems likely - the universe is the result of a few very simple rules, while it's certainly possible that everything initially crystallized into that extremely complex entity, who then created everything else, it definitely isn't probable.
Especially since we have more and more of a model for those simple rules resulting in all there is today.
You can certainly ask how those rules came into existence, and I can't tell you. But I think it's the height of conceit to imagine that an intelligence was necessary for their creation.
And that's it for this installment. I need to get up for my "day"...