The Bible is not a hoax. It is simply a collection of writings held sacred by Jews and Christians. Of course, Jews only believe in the Hebrew Scriptures. Growing up a Witness, I used to think that God, this very old, scary white dude, wrote it down word for word. The authors were mere automatons. The Bible is a resource of very different accounts of genesis, nationhood, a prayer book, prophecies, wisdom literature. It was not canonized into an official body until councils a hundred or years of so after the death of Jesus. Some Middle Eastern religions share the same stories. I came across this recently with Melchizedek. If you are a historian or anthropologist, the story fragments are fascinating.
Basically, these are the special books written within my culture and tradition. I don't believe the Bible is more authentically from God than the Vedic scriptures or Buddhist writings. It makes no sense. To believe the Bible is unique is sheer cultural imperialism. This is very different from the Witness stance. Some of the writings are achingly beautiful and profound. I studied Karen Armstrong's book on God in the Axis religions. Over a relatively short period of time, new religions appeared throughout the world preaching basically the same core beliefs.
I studied New Testament and Oriental Civilizations in college. Since I grew up in the NY area and lived in Manhattan for 40 years, I was exposed to many different cultures. I don't want to worship a God who would slay people for believing the truth of their culture. With a broader perspective, I can believe the hard sciences and Christianity. Altho science is not my forte, I see how evolution could be the mechanism through which God created. Maybe. What I find sad is that we are losing Bible literacy. Once everyone in Western society had a common collection of stories to draw upon in their lives. The Witnesses did expose me to stories.
I wonder how much my personal distaste for the Society led me into a worldly view. It feels like I was propelled out of the Witness stance. I could never see leaving the Witnesses to be a Dawn Bible Student. New Age spirituality annoys me but I respect those who believe in it. It is not my cup of tea. My Witness wounds were so deep I shuddered to study New Testament. I ended up with nightmares. Without college, I don't believe I would learned that it is preferable to ask "hard questions." In fact, critical thinking skills apply to almost all areas of my life now. I am absolutely convinced in my deepest soul that the Witnesses are wrong. Dead wrong. Completely wrong. Emphatically wrong. Yet I want belief in something.
Decades later it is easy to forget what an outsider I was and how extremely narrow my exposure. Fundamentally, though, I never, ever liked the Witnesses. I detested it at two. When are they going to set up nursery schools and youth education separately from adult worship. It is so much easier going with my basic temperament and world view than trying to conform to the very opposite.