Image via WikipediaI'm one of those people who is still trying to sort things out, but I came to the conclusion long ago that the god in the OT scripture and the god in the NT are not even close to being the same being. I also know the god from the OT is definitely sadistic and sounds evil when I think about it.
Recently, I found some old friends who are now Reformed Calvinists, and when I have asked them questions they give me the spiel that the Fall introduced evil in the world; God abhors sin; we are all as rags before god and deserve his wrath because we have sinned; and all of this is to glorify God. Sometimes they refer me to the verse that says, "I knew you before you were born," when I bring up their doctrine of predestination and how that can possibly be merciful or just. Then they ask me how I reconcile whatever response I give with whatever verse they come up with (usually something in Leviticus or Exodus), and I smack my forehead.
What I can tell you with certainty is that I don't believe the bible is true or accurate any more than I believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster (may he touch me with his noodly appendage, Ramen) is true and that the Pastafarians are the ones with the Truth. I do know for certain that I am agnostic leaning towards atheist, but in any case I am a recovering ex-Xtian. Admittedly, I still feel some apprehension about hell and have no idea how to get past that since it had been ingrained for many years, but I am working on it.
The thing that really started me trying to get an understanding of how people can believe that the bible is the inspired inerrant literal word of god in light of how evil it is, how counterintuitive it is, and how it promotes such hate, is seeing that most of the people I know are now nothing like me anymore. Many of my relatives have gotten involved in the "Teabagger" movement and have swung way Fundy/Evangelical recently, when they had always been moderates before. Also, many of the folks I went to school with (a Church of Christ) school have become Evangelicals or Fundamentalists and are also "Teabaggers". They found out I am a Libertarian and no longer associate with me, so I don't dare tell them anything about my de-conversion. They would probably stone me to death.
It is certainly interesting that most of the Tea Party movement self-identify as "born again" yet are racists, hate-mongers, gay-bashers, and generally the worst human beings I have ever come across.
When I was growing up I really didn't hear that much hate speech from my relatives, but it was there in spades when I went back to visit over Thanksgiving. It made me furious, my 12 year old has decided never to go to her grandma's again, and I am still stunned, shocked, angry, and confused by what took place around the dinner table. My mom has become the worst, and was cackling when someone sent her the text message of "pray for Obama Psalms 138:9." I told her I was aware it had been going around and in no way found that cute or funny, and she got really upset with me. It devolved into a tirade that I am going to hell and it will be worse for me for not taking my child to church, their movement IS going to bring our nation "back to god" and she is willing to die for the movement, and other bizarre things that horrify me.
Old habits die hard, and I still felt momentary fear when my mom asked me if I wasn't scared that I was going to hell, and why take a chance that I am wrong. But I also know that "love" out of fear is not love at all. It is nothing more than coercion and a means of control.
I would like to end with something from the CD Snakes & Arrows by Rush that resonated with me the first time I heard it:
I don't have faith in faith
I don't believe in belief
You can call me faithless
But I still cling to hope
And I believe in love
And that's faith enough for me