I have no problem with a person wanting to base their personal spiritual identity on the bible. Some use the bible, some use comic books. Both are just as relevant to the person who uses them.
What your treatment Terry speaks to me is the fact that there isn't a great deal of intellectual honesty where the bible is concerned. Most people are aware that this information is out there, yet many, in spite of the great stakes involved, are satisfied with their belief system. Which I think speaks to how powerful a person deciding to believe in something really is.
Most theological students these days learn this at college about the bible. About original manuscripts, etc. When they become ministers in a religion, given supply and demand, most of the audience still don't want to hear about how the bible got to us. They want to hear stories in the bible explained. Until the general populace demands to learn more in a scholarly way from these men and women, they will continue to get legends and old stories turned into morality plays. While I enjoy that myself on occasion in what I read (Lord of the Rings for example) its important to keep in mind that one is reading a book of fiction, even if there is some good points to learn from it.
Yes, I believe most of the bible to be fiction regarding its accounts. I do take 6 books for myself that I consider on occasion: Proverbs, Ecclesaisates, and the 4 Gospels. The rest of it is not worth my time personally.
There has to be a difference between a persons spirituality, and the insistence by some that this spirituality be tied into accepting the bible as the unerring word of god.
Terry, as you so eloquently put it, there never was a bible to consult until several hundred years after Jesus supposedly walked the earth. It's a creation of the Christian religion, not the cause of the Christian religion. A study in the history of the cannon and how it got to us is very illuminating. It may not do a lot for your faith, but it will for your honesty, if you value that above a comfy belief system.
I know that faith keeps a lot of people going. I know that many do misuse it, others don't. But a person can have faith while not dogmatically insisting the bible, with all its weirdness, has it right. A study of the bible's history shows why it is so disjointed in its message in the first place, they are a bunch of indivdual books, strung together by religionists with an agenda. Even if some of the writings do have value, and I believe that some do, in now way justifies a belief that all of it is from god, for us, nor does it excuse in my opinion a person deciding to turn off their brain, and not wanting to consider the evidence. I don't respect that too much.