There is no way I can believe these stories as literal truth or even use them as any signpost to the NT Jesus/God.
Hello Band, I agree that these stories should not be told as literal history. That should be left to Science and historians specifcally. However, I could not disagree with you more on your second notion. In fact the NT Jesus character tells religious leaders that the Torah was specifically about him.To deny this is to deny Christian theology and I would argue theology in general.
The Torah is a very astrological document. I am convinced that the Serpent in Genesis is a reference to the celestial body Venus and it's general path in our night sky. It "commands" the night sky as the brightest "star" and because of this it's light pervades beyond all others before the sun comes up from behind the horizon. Therefore, if you were to personify that particular body you would give it the property of pride and envy. Because it commanded the night for so long that it lost it's perspective that day even existed. So, when all the stars "die" when dawn arrives this particular star goes down last behind the horizon. In the astrological allegory we have a powerful entity that succumbs to pride and arrogance and is punished for it. The star actually falls behind the horizon which signifies Lucifer being cast down to earth. This, imo, perfectly mimics the character of the Serpent in Genesis. It was the Serpent's pride that seduced Adam's wife, it was too much splender for her to handle. The result was all of them being cast down to the earth in an accursed state. Because they were given free will they were free to allow themselves to be dominated, and they were.
These scriptures make Judaism and Christianity look silly.
Actually, they don't look silly at all unless interpreted incorrectly. You seem to be falling into the mental trap of letting the lies of religion affect your view of Scripture. Essentially you have developed a nasty bias.
I can see why atheists laugh at them.
This is where that bias comes from. You are allowing yourself to be swayed by the swagger of unbelievers.
Why do we automatically assume that YHWH is any better or moral than any other God?
Because he is the Creator of everything and when you calculate the morality of all existence you will see that it's ultimately good. Because of this any Creator of Existence would be a good entity. This is not an "automatic assumption" it's a determination based on a careful examination of the documents in question. The YHWH character irrespective of any deeds committed recorded in the Torah is described as the Creator of Existence and existence IS GOOD. So, that's really the question: is our existence is good, bad or neutral? So, your assertion is a red hering of sorts. A distraction to the real subject which is whether or not our existence is moral. Because, if it's inherently moral, then we can safely call any entity that created it to also be moral. Therefore, if that entity is the only true source of existence then we would be forced to call that entity eternally pure, good and just. With that in mind the world becomes a much more palatable place to exist within. With that mental approach we look to improve rather than seek out commiseration and refuge.
We don't even know anything about the writers.
Another red herring. We don't need to know the writers to contemplate whether or not a One Creator God exists. We simply need to read Genesis 1:1 which makes an assertion without evidence. We are supposed to make that determination ourselves, we don't get to hold anyone's hand while working out this relationship with God. It's an accetance process which motivates us to reach out and grasp the hand of God. Genesis 1:1 asks for faith. The Torah asserts that there is only ONE God and that that God created EVERYTHING. This has nothing to do with writers. It has everything to do with monotheism vs it's competition.
Genesis always seemed to be a time outside our own.
I agree which is why a literal retelling is just plain silly.
I never liked being punished for Adam's sin or the story of Issac as handy dandy sacrifice.
It's not until Romans in your favorite grouping of Scripture (NT) that "sin" is described as Adam and Eve's cause. The Jews, nor the Hebrews, never believed in original sin. There's no sense in complaining about original sin doctrine when challenging the validity of Hebrew Scripture. It's simply a concept that doesn't exist in the book. What's really being described by the "fall of Genesis" is the human mind as it relates to the animal kingdom. It also provides a moral explanation for why God gave humans animal instinct. It's a difficulty setting. To question Genesis 3 is to question general difficulty in life which is not a bad thing because trials bring forth endurance. This is by design, humans are supposed to be wise like God which means biting through the obstacles in our lives and becoming better for it.
As far as the Abraham/Isaac story goes, this is actually one of the stories in the Torah that I think did take place in some historical form. This was because God's son was destroyed in the process of creating the universe that we exist within (Big Bang). God was testing Abraham to see if HE would do what GOD already did, because the world existed and it was done by the destruction of the Son of God. When Jesus came to earth and died, it was the SECOND time he died for the world, not the first. The fact that God stops Abraham is an extremely pivital point for both human history and Scripture in general. It abolishes child sacrifice which was a problem in that world and even today. The Watchtower for instance is into child sacrifice to goat idols, but they work in opposition to God. If they simply understood the Torah they would see that there was only ONE child worthy of sacrifice which brought forth the entire world that we exist within. We are a world founded in sacrifice, so we have to move away from it. A father sending his son to die for their country is considered an act of nobility. The same goes for the Father and the Son, but they did it for existence, not just some temporary nation.
The question I aked myself is why anyone at any time would find these stories useful.
When interpreted properly, they are not only useful, but timeless.
My interest is not theological
When you study a theological work, you should be interested in theology. Our world is ridden with a scourge of secular understanding of a highly spiritual book. No offense, but stop listening to them. Stop eating atheist/theist junk food and think for yourself.