I apologize if a discussion of this is buried inside one of the other discussions here.
I see a lot of discussion on the contradictions and inhumane ideas contained in sacred texts. By arguing about these things, I feel we are really no different than other sectarians who base their sects on emphasizing some parts of their respective canon and ignoring others. From an atheist point of view, should the emphasis be that there are contradictions in god's word or should it be that these words are not god's but were generated by very human brains?
I would like to discuss the capacity of certain human brains to generate text that seems to be of other-worldly origins. This is more than just tracing the historical origins of the text and the "intellectual context" in which they arose (the nomadic-herders-had-no-concept-of-astrophysics-or-cause-and-effect-etc arguments).
Some explanations include temporal lobe epilepsy, brain tumor, substance induced hallucinations (auditory and visual), shamanic habits and traditions, exaggerated histories, and just plain folktales. There is so much out there that someone considers to be of other-worldly origin. What makes some of it so much more convincing than others?
In this line of thought perhaps the apocryphal and non-canonical texts can serve as examples of how some works had better staying power than others. The existence of these works leaves open the argument of why they were excluded from the canon. Parallels could be drawn between how the A-list sacred texts persist in the same way that overtly fictional works and other philosophical tomes do (not discounting the societal compulsion that support the sacred texts).
I am off track here?