Do you believe in talking snakes?
I'm glad that you can accept that my persona may have changed. I say categorically that it has. People that know me through my transition have told me that I have changed. I have lost friendships over it, not because I'm a crazy person that believes in an invisible sky daddy, but because I am no longer entertained by their empty gossip.
Of course I accept that one can seek philanthropy without being a Christian. I was one of them. I'm saying that I wasn't very effective in that goal before I followed the teachings of the Bible.
I believe the truth in the Bible isn't in the fact that it proclaims itself as true, it is in the fact that it's predictions, in my personal experience have come true. Much in the same way that science's predictions that come true give it credibility.
Asking if I believe in talking snakes seems a bit mute when I claim belief in an all-powerful being that created the entire universe. I have never witnessed a talking snake personally, but the idea that a snake talked seems no less inconceivable in the world we live in today, than the person that snake was talking to being made out of a man's rib. The point is that the things I can conceive of like the persona change that I have experienced are clearly predicted in the Bible, and therefore give credibility to the things I cannot conceive of.
So, yes, to answer your question, I do believe it is possible that a snake could have talked in the garden of Eden.
How is the Lord of the Rings fiction but the Bible not?
It's interesting that you use the Lord of the Rings as an example of a work of fiction when the author himself acknowledged that it was “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”, and that the “religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism” He distinguishes the fact of the Bible from the fiction of his book and as a devout Catholic would have believed in a literal interpretation of the garden of Eden, talking snakes included.
The Bible is a historical document, much in the same way that Anne Frank's diary is a historical document. Someone that does not believe in the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany would question the credibility of the author and may call her diary a work of fiction.
The fact that biological science to date has no evidence to support vocal cords in snakes is itself the issue with trusting entirely in scientific knowledge to determine the understanding of reality. It is inherently unstable, because tomorrow a paeleontologist, for instance, could come upon some fossil record, say a jaw bone, that leads them to the speculation that in snakes may have had vocal cords in the past, and this speculation becomes so widespread that it becomes treated like a fact over time, until once again another piece of evidence is uncovered and further interpreted to come to some other conclusion.
The Bible however isn't a scientific document, it employs a fundamentally entirely different philosophy. It does not presume to describe the universe in the realms that we see in science. It does not describe the universe as being made of particles, or atoms, or electrons. It describes the universe as being made of love. The love that God has for us. Trying to use science to prove or disprove the Bible is an exercise in futility because of that inherent instability. The Bible teaches us not how, but why. It gives the reason why we're here much in the same way that Anne Frank may not have gone about the technical details of the execution methods in concentration camps, but still we have a better understanding of the fear and persecution that the Jews went through.
There is of course no scientific evidence of a talking snake ever having existed but that does not mean that the Bible does not have historical credibility nor that it is a work of fiction.
Isn’t the Bible more unstable that science?
When I say the Bible has stability I'm talking about the fact that it does not change. A science text book will say very different things today from what a similar text book would have said 10 or 20 years ago. This is especially true when the science is based on things that cannot be witnessed, either events in the distant past or events in the future. It wasn't that long ago when peer reviewed science was telling us that our damage to the environment would cause global cooling. This was then later revised to the exact opposite and it was in fact global warming. Now it is simply called climate change. I remember being taught at school that we would have no oil by the end of the century, in fact, when my brother who is 15 years older than me was at school he was taught there would be no more oil by the time he was old enough to drive.
You say that the Bible's only justification is itself because it is just the written word. If that were the case then all the millions of people past and present that have personal experience and therefore have their own testimony that hold the Bible to the truth are irrelevant. If the only valid justification for establishing reality is peer reviewed science, that demonstrably gets things entirely wrong because it is based more on an opinion of the credibility of the scientist than of the evidence presented, then that is not rational.
I would say one the strengths of the credibility of the Bible is by the sheer number of people that have testimony that says it is true. To state that millions of people that have personally witnessed Jesus Christ are all gullible and deluded and brainwashed into believing a lie, makes a mockery of human intelligence. It makes a mockery of medical science because it is saying that millions of people are mentally ill and that it does nothing to help these people. Yet it is one of the foundations of atheism. To state that a talking snake or parting seas or talking donkeys are laughable, but at the same time stating that abiogensis, the idea that life started spontaneously by chance, or a big bang created from nothing is plausible is not rational either. It is biased. It is biased because that is what has been taught to us in this country from a very early age.
The problem is that I was so deluded into this indoctrination of atheist ideas that I could not see the logical truth from the indoctrination. I had to personally experience myself the love that Christians show to each other and to other people to be convinced. It isn't something I would have been able to understand if I hadn't been in their company, which I think is why we're taught to spread the message directly to other people. I many times asked myself as a logical and rational person whether I was being conned, or whether I was deluded, or gullible but I don't think I have been. The more I came to understand the change I was going through as I came to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ the more I saw the truth in it. The more I went to church the more I saw the truth in the efficacy of prayer. The more I interacted with Christians the more I understood the love that God shows us because it was reflected through them. However, I don't expect to convince you of these things with mere words. I expect you to be angry, and frustrated with me and my viewpoint. I think you have to seek the understanding yourself in person. What drove me was my seeking an understanding of why these crazy people followed an even crazier book, especially my wife and I'm so glad I did.
Why do you think Atheists are so angry?
I expect you to be angry and frustrated because that is how people in my experience seem to be when they’re trying to understand the position that Christians, and presumably people of other faiths are in. I was angry myself. Trying to understand why so many people believe in things that they cannot see or hear, and that there seems to be no evidence for other than some fairy tales written thousands of years ago is at the very least frustrating. There is also a sense of betrayal, and quite rightly so, because these people that are saying demonstrable scientific facts are wrong at the same time are happy to use and take advantage of the technology that scientists and engineers work so hard to develop based on these demonstrable scientific facts. Not only that but they turn around and state that the technology was able to be put there because God allowed it, taking away all the credit for the work that these professionals spend sometimes all of their lives developing.
However, we're not saying that. By praising God for talents we have and marvels we can achieve we're saying that it's amazing that we have the ability to do them. We're literally awestruck at such abilities. We're not saying that these people aren't hard working or that their talents aren't inspirational but our view on the nature of our abilities as human beings. The only time we have a problem with science is when it goes entirely against the Bible, specifically the conclusions made about the nature of the method and the timing of our existence.
I doubt that you'll find a lot of born again Christians that believe in a flat earth, although at a pinch some verses can be interpreted as such. However the nature of the universe and how we got here is pretty clear in the Bible, although a lot more people that call themselves Christians think those explanations a metaphor.
Still the relationship with God is what's important, not so much the details of the events written in the Bible. That relationship, although it may appear as just a psychological state, is what gives us the peace and happiness we have in our lives. The peace and happiness are so overwhelming that what seems normal before is now shocking to us. If one explains away our happiness as a delusion then it means that we have the ability to will ourselves happy. It means that our medical answer to depression isn't pills. It begs the question, which isn't organised religion something prescribed on the NHS?