Well, first of all, you all seem like a nice bunch of folks with a thought-provoking website that I think provides overall value to the continued intellectual evolution of humanity. And I certainly do not intend to overstep any boundaries set forth in this website. It's not my website, after all, and as a guest in someone's house, I follow the rules.
Forgive my naivete regarding the term "textual criticism." I am truly not quite sure what you mean by discussion within the Scriptures as opposed to textual criticism.
The very first entry to this thread summarized my thinking, which is: I agree with you that the Bible does not contain any concept of eternal
punishment or damnation, but that alone does not answer other questions about actual contents of the Bible that appear wholly inconsistent with an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving Heavenly Father. I even included the notion of looking at the Bible as a library - an anthology of the universe of thought at the time, some accurate, some not - rather than a constitution or a life manual.
Molly, if you look at my post closely, you will see that I referred to "primitive times" not "primitive people." In any case, the word "primitive" is synonymous with early civilization. It is not a derogatory word, and I certainly did not use it in that spirit.
You are right about the contaminated pork in Biblical times, and hence the need for laws. Why, then, do modern-day folks follow those Old Testament laws regarding fasting, not eating meat and dairy products together, etc. Granted, some Christians look upon the New Testament as a "new" covenant that "replaced" the old, but certainly not all do. There are Christians who believe it is imperative to follow both Testaments, to have church services on Saturday (the Sabbath) as opposed to Sunday, etc. So, even though the pork is no longer contaminated, a lot of those customs have remained.
As to your question about how I would do things differently, I certainly would not dare suggest that I would possibly have a better way than God. But I see God portrayed in the Bible as the most powerful force in the universe, but not necessarily unequivocally dominating. Analogically, God is like the United States which, presumably, can defeat any other nation in war, but might have trouble if, say, every other nation in the world joined forces against the U.S., if someone developed a nuclear weapon more powerful than ours, etc. But none of that compares to God.
God does not struggle with evil - God created evil and allows it to exist, for His reasons. For His lessons that he teaches us. He does not doubt. he does not get angry. He does not get sad. He is God. He created the entire universe and can control every corner of it.
Getting back to this forum, the other thing I said very early on was that:
1. BECAUSE I cannot see a literal interpretation of the vast majority of Scripture as being logical, I conclude that;
2. EITHER some of the Bible's passages are flat-out incorrect;
3. OR, the Bible is 100% correct, but the literal interpretation is in correct.
Regarding Statement 3, I have asked for your input because I believe that some of you on this forum are well-versed in responding. And some already have - with very informative answers.