In this country (England) it is relatively unusual to meet someone who believes that the books of the Bible amount to the literal inerrant Word of God (relative to the U.S. for example). Here are two passages from the Gospels and St Paul’s Epistles that illustrate how idiotic this belief is.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Mark 16: 17-18
Snake handling by Holiness, Pentecostal and Charismatic churches has caused over a hundred deaths. Presumably death by snake bite in these churches is a sign that the snake handler didn’t believe enough.
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15: 14-17
What if it turns out that the dead rise not and that Christ didn’t literally rise from the dead? Does that really invalidate the whole of Christianity? After two millennia can we simply say, “well that was a waste of time then”?
Paul was writing only a couple of decades after Jesus’ death, when the resurrection of the dead was a fairly common belief among Jews (the Sadducees being a notable exception). There wasn’t any Christianity then, at least not as we would recognise it today. There was no Sistene Chapel, no Palestrina, no Bach, no Augustine, no Milton, no Dante, no Saint Francis of Assisi. There wasn’t even any Gospels!
Yet Evangelical Christians routinely quote this passage in Paul to browbeat Christians into accepting the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus. Because if it didn’t actually happen, the whole thing is a lie. So you’d better believe it, because if you don’t, you’re not a real Christian, and even worse, you are basically agreeing with the unbelievers that the Christian faith is nothing but lies and chicanery. Which, the more you insist, is exactly what any healthy, rational skepticism will conclude.
Christianity is a magnificent, centuries old religion, the power and efficacy of which does not stand or fall on assent to a preposterous belief. Christianity is not about snake handling or drinking poison to prove your holiness, and neither is it about dead people miraculously coming back to life. That’s just silly.