One of the luckiest breaks I've had in my life was my non-religious childhood. My mother has no opinion on, or interest in, religion or spirituality. My father was raised RC and converted to atheism before I was born. I've known a lot of people who had religious upbringings and later spent years trying to undo the damage with variable success. I never had to go through that. Atheism is as much a belief system as religion is, but it's a lot easier to let go of, since it can't be reinforced by threats or promises.
I've tried to read the Bible a number of times for the sake of cultural reference. I've read some of the books, but I never could get through the OT without flinging the vile thing across the room. If there ever was a book that deserved to be banned, it's the Bible. More specifically, it's the OT books that form the basis of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The "God" portrayed in those books is obviously psychotic. He is a murderous, racist, mysogynistic tyrant.
I think it's a shame that criticism of "the Book" comes almost exclusively from atheists, who object to it for the wrong reasons, and assume that religion and atheism are the only available choices. Everybody else tiptoes around the issue for fear of offending believers. Why? When have the "people of the Book" ever shrunk from giving offence to others? F#*k them! How many more millennia of oppression, abuse, murder and genocide will it take? We've seen the Book's fruits and they are rotten. Or will we just keep pretending that the crusades and the inquisition and countless genocides of indigenous peoples were isolated incidents? The Israeli Zionists aren't disregarding the Torah, they're acting on it.
Who is this "God" anyway? Yahweh, an emotionally maladjusted toddler who writes books that no one can understand, but all must obey. Actually, he doesn't write them, he "inspires" them. In other words, they are channelled. If someone were to channel a book today that advocated, nay demanded, the abuse and sexual mutilation of children, racially motivated killing, oppression of women, etc., how much popular support and legal protection do you think it would receive? Is it too impertinent to ask if the entity that calls itself Yahweh is really who he claims to be?
It's truly sad that the Yahwists succeeded in hijacking Christianity. It might have been something really transformative and world-changing. When reading the gospels, it's extremely hard to credit the belief that the "father" that Jesus speaks of is the same as Yahweh, since the two are nothing alike. So far as I know, Jesus never said as much. Many of the earliest Christians were Gnostic. The Gnostics specifically refuted the claims of Yahweh. They believed and taught that Yahweh was an insane impostor, a powerful and predatory Archon. After the Roman church had finished cobbling the Bible together and massacring all competing factions, this seems to have been forgotten. Oh well, I'm sure the Roman Empire knew best. "Might makes right", as Jesus always said. (Or was that someone else?)
Doesn't it seem a little strange to anyone that Yahweh is so obsessed with his book, and yet he didn't "inspire" Jesus (or his apostles) to write any of it? He claims to be all-powerful yet he can't arrange for his (alleged) son to be literate. And how is it that there is no hard historical evidence that Jesus ever existed? Record-keeping is something the Empire always excelled at. What seems most likely to me is that the original Christians understood the gospels to be teaching stories, rather than factual accounts. Taking them as parables in no way diminishes their value. If anything, it increases it, since it prevents false literalistic interpretations. The historical existence of Jesus only matters to those people who completely miss the point, and think the ultimate message of the gospels is that they get to avoid responsibility for their sins through the miracle of bloody human sacrifice. How disgusting! How infantile!
One of the things I find most amazing about religious people is how many of them manage to remain relatively sane and moral in spite of it (although it costs them the use of their reason). The resilience of the human heart truly is a wonder to behold. If anyone needed proof that humans (excepting the 1 to 6% I mentioned a few posts ago) are naturally moral, this is it. There is NO book that can compare with the heart's simple wisdom: In Lak'ech.