How would you answer the following questions:
1. Do you believe the bible is the authentic word of God or do you believe it is a hoax?
This is a false dilemma. I believe it is a diverse collection of religious writings esteemed by Second Temple Jews and second-century Christians. For the most part these writings do not claim a supernatural, divine origin (prophetic oracles are a significant exception, yet even these do not represent predictions set in stone), despite later opinions, whether intracanonical or not, that such writings are divinely inspired. These are genuine ancient documents and valuable for attesting the historical development of religious ideas. The word "hoax" implies that they are faked documents, like the many modern-day apocrypha, such as the Kolbrin Bible which is clearly of recent origin. Perhaps the term is more appropriate for pseudepigrapha and pseudonymous writings, which the Bible certainly has (Daniel and 2 Peter come to mind, among others), yet even here "hoax" implies a motive that may not have been operative in the use of pseudonymity as a literary convention.
2. Why do you feel one way or the other?
Explained above. The term "hoax" is not appropriate for the many writings in the Bible that make no intimation of having any sort of divine origin.
3. How sure are you of your belief on a scale of 1 - 10?
4. How would you reply to the Watchtower's list of evidence that they claim proves that the Bible is authentic. In particular:
The term "authentic" can be interpreted many ways. Authentic of what? This is a loaded term that betrays a certain interpretive stance towards the writings contained in the collection called the "Bible". If, say, the book of Jonah makes no claim of being the divine inspired inerrant Word of God, but in fact was written as I believe it was as a piece of satire, how is it "inauthentic" if it contains fantastic and comic elements? It is only when it is read as a historical narrative that a question of "historical accuracy" has any bearing on the book's authenticity. To me, the question of authenticity is more legitimate when the text itself is of questionable provenance or date (such as modern fakes like the Jehoash Tablet), or authorship when the book contains later accretions (such as the interpolations into the epistles of Ignatius).
- Scientific Accurarcy
Of course it is no more accurate than any other ANE text from the same era. Many of the arguments for scientific accuracy are spurious, and many others reflect ancient scientific knowledge.
- Historical and Archeological Accuracy
It varies. There are many texts in the OT that are important historical sources (but still biased and socially situated) and many that are not reliable at all but reflect ideas of a later age.
- Fulfillment of Prophecies
Again, no more reliable than prophecies made by any other ANE society. There are many hermeneutic techniques that many use to interpret prophecy that actually make poor sense of the text itself. Some believers prefer to use the prophecy to override history than admit that the prediction did not come to pass the way foreseen. Or the prophecy may be interpreted in creative ways to make the oracle "fit" with later events. The history of the interpretation of Daniel is filled with many such examples, including the common Christian interpretation of the "Seventy Weeks" vision which makes very poor sense of what the text actually says. Also later textual accretions may make the prophecy fit better with history than the original wording; this is probably the case with the "seventy years" prophecy in Jeremiah. And the oracle may be written post eventu, as is the case with most of ch. 11 of Daniel or the Animal Apocalypse of 1 Enoch. Or later readers may misconstrue the original setting and context of the oracle, as is the case with the Cyrus references in Deutero-Isaiah.
- Candor of Bible Writers
Many of the claims of "candor" depend on dubious opinions of authorship and date. Nor is candor the strict province of ancient Jewish or Christian writers. The pro-Achaemenid scribes in Babylon showed great "candor" in describing how their last native king (Nabonidus) was impious and a lousy ruler. What may appear to be candor may simply represent propaganda by one group against another. The Bible does not present a single point of view, despite what many readers believe.
Thank you in advance for sharing your personal opinions. It is often difficult to get people to answer questions like these in person. I really appreciate your help!