I have to go to work, but I will address some of what you suggested now, and the quotes after work. (I do want to say, I have no issue with your personal beliefs. However, I take exception to your pervasive arguments, as if a conspiracy exists to trick people into not believing the bible. The issue is, does the evidence support the claim that worshipers and adherents insist upon?)
Can you give me a quote where I made an assertion?
Here you go:
Still, the fact remains that men wrote these letters, men translated these letters, men preserved them, and there is very real evidence that they were "tweaked" if not outright changed through the centuries as various religio/political views came and changed with them.
When you said "assertion", I took this definition of the word, which I understand it to mean.
a positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason: a mere assertion; an unwarranted assertion. (dictionary.com)
I couldn't disagree with you more. It is no assertion that men wrote, translated, preserved, and tweaked the letters of Paul. Due to time constraints, I cannot type in direct quotes, but I will later. Hope you will be reading later on.....
You mention Bart (not Brad) Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus.
OOPS! Sorry about that. It was late when I typed that. I have a Simpson's mental block on Bart.
Many conservative scholars have come out with papers that are critical of Ehrman. One in particular is Ben Witherington, he states that many of Ehrman's arguments come straight from the German school of higher criticism from over one hundred years ago. All of these objections have been refuted by scholars.
I take exception to this as well. Conservative scholars have a predisposition to be critical of those critical of anyone who says the bible is uninspired of god. As for Ben Witherington, its not like he is neutral.
Ben Witherington III is an evangelical Biblical scholar, and lecturer on New Testament Studies. (Wikipedia)
I couldn't give 2 nickels about what this quack says.
BART Ehrman's book is a lightening rod precisely because it takes aim at the sacred cow of Christianity, the bible. It exposes the flaws without a religio/political point of view. Those who would criticize this book do so for the same reasons that "apostates" are criticized by JW's. They can't dispute the facts, but they can muddy the waters and change the flavor of the debate.
I will have to go back to "Misquoting Jesus" but there is a passage in it that shows exactly how 1 Corinthians was altered. I think chap 11 and 14 were given as examples concerning statements that contradict on Paul's view of women. While I was a JW and had to explain away Paul's misogyny several times, this chapter demonstrated not only the changes that occurred over time, but that in all likelihood, the most inflammatory of Paul's words in Chap 14 about a woman not teaching was likely added by a scribe with a thing against women.
The point being: Paul's letters were altered, that this alteration allowed a direct contradiction chapters apart in the same book, and that this certainly shows a lack of inspiration of the divine.
How often have women through the centuries (millenniums) been held back and down because of mens understanding of women thanks to passages of Paul? This occurred several times in JW land, and it still occurs today in churches all over. Pragmatic evidence also shows that there is no wisdom in these words that are accepted as the word of god by Christians.
It's quite a conundrum to defend: Either Paul was directed by God to be a misogynist and we got the direct quotes from god through Paul, or we acknowledge the contradiction, which opens up a can of worms people of faith would sometimes rather not deal with.
The problem is people that are so eager and willing to reject the Bible based on the old and refuted arguments of the 19th century. The problem is simple. I, like you will not argue with these sorts. However, I will not stand by and allow conclusions based on flimsy or no evidence, to remain unchallenged.
What constitutes "flimsy or no evidence"? The many MSS that contradict each other? The internal evidence of Pauline dogma as relates to women? To consider Paul's letters on just those 2 lines of evidence is solid enough. If you want to throw in the rest of the bible, then I will give you a very simple reason to be skeptical:
It's an ancient collection of scrolls that have been deified throughout antiquity. Far from leading to progress, it is only when secularists have been able to be free from biblical bondage that progress in science, technology, and equal rights for women and minorities has taken place.
You assert that 19th century higher criticism has somehow been successfully argued against? How can anyone with an education take this statement seriously? (I mean no disrespect to you personally, but that is just an amazing statement to make) Here is an outline of what higher criticism is:
Historical criticism or higher criticism is a branch of literary analysis that investigates the origins of a text: as applied in biblical studies it investigates the books of the Bible and compares them to other texts written at the same time, before, or recently after the text in question. In Classical studies, the new higher criticism of the nineteenth century set aside "efforts to fill ancient religion with direct meaning and relevance and devoted itself instead to the critical collection and chronological ordering of the source material,"  Thus higher criticism, whether biblical, classical, Byzantine or medieval, focuses on the sources of a document to determine who wrote it, when it was written, and where. For example, higher criticism deals with the synoptic problem, the question of how Matthew, Mark, and Luke relate to each other. In some cases, such as with several Pauline epistles, higher criticism confirms the traditional understanding of authorship. In other cases, higher criticism contradicts church tradition (as with the gospels) or even the words of the Bible itself (as with 2 Peter).
The Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus (1466? - 1536) is usually credited as the first to study the Bible in this way  .
The phrase higher criticism is used in contrast with Lower criticism (or textual criticism), the endeavour to determine what a text originally said before it was altered (through error or intent).
Higher criticism treats the Bible as a text created by human beings at a particular historical time and for various human motives, in contrast with the treatment of the Bible as the inerrant word of God.
In other words, instead of treating the bible as sacred first and working backwords, it examines the texts and the evidence, and lets this evidence move forward.
There is no compelling reason in the absence of "god" telling us all that the bible is really his book to take it any other way then men writing it. We have evidence of this, as the scrolls were found to be written with ink and parchment or vellum. Great evidence that man wrote it in my opinion.
I say this not to disrespect your personal faith, but I do take issue with how you would characterize the arguments of atheists and agnostics who for very good reasons, do not believe the bible is the inspired word of god.
No, I have not asserted anything. I prefer to try to understand your views before I make my views known.
Thats not very helpful, and rather superior, but I have humbled myself before your lofty questions.
I would love to dialoge with you further on this, but if you are convinced that I am just blindly following the Bible, then there would be no benefit to either of us.
I am not convinced that you blindly follow the bible, I think you do so with eyes wide open. My argument isn't your own personal choice here. You have come here very clearly to defend the bible. I respect that you personally have decided to do this.
However, you have an untenable position as to defending this in public. At that point, it is proper to question your evidence. The issue isn't the amount of handwritten copied MSS available, as if this somehow shows how great the bible is. It actually works against the arguments of divine inspiration. Nor is the issue those higher critics who look at the bible as simply the words of men, and this somehow means that there evidential findings should be discarded simply because they don't believe the bible as you do.
Your evidence will always be in question, as there simply is no evidence that Jesus was any more then a great man. Only the bible maintains he was resurrected. The "miracles" in the bible? Unproveable. Sorry. I don't need clarification, I need repeatable evidence. God could certainly help your argument by showing up? I would be happy to offer my life as an example of how god will judge all non believers who should have "seen" that he was the true god. Maybe my sacrifice will spare others from judgment. I don't know......
A Christian is asked to devote their life to Christ, to accept the bible as the word of god, and yet to ignore clear contradictions and hateful statements regarding the destruction of non believers and others? No, the burden of proof isn't even on you as a person of faith. It is really on god. Who once again, must rely on you, and others, to do his talking for him, while he invisibly sits somewhere and lets us all stumble around, groping in the dark for our salvation.
It's not just contradictions in Paul's letters, or the bible in general. Just read it. It is a discombobulated collection of scrolls, written by men, copied again and again and again by man, and the superstitious value put into it is finally melting away.
The point of this thread is that Jesus seems like a great man. Paul introduced all sorts of crud, claimed it as coming from Jesus, and got considerable power off it. He was a religious zealot, not a clear minded apostle, as the bible would have you believe. We would all be better if we could take the gospels, and throw out the rest of the NT.