...and believed every word of it!
If there were inconsistencies within or without, I credited that to our finite understanding of the infinite. We would understand it "by and by." But where the Bible spoke as literal truth to the very tangible world we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell, where it spoke to our finite understanding in finite terms, I fully expected things to line up...within AND without: The creation, the flood, the geneologies, the history of nations, languages, persons, and wars should all be written down in the world around us, to be dug up, researched, written and read in perfect harmony with this book of truth.
So why all the fuss over creation and evolution? Theism and atheism? Why argue about it? Why villify the opposition? Why wring one's hands over the "opposition?" Why not sit down for a friendly chat over coffee (if you're right-wing conservative), wine (if you're Catholic), or even beer (if you're Lutheran), and discuss the evidence? Plain truth cannot be denied, and the evidence is there for the taking!
And so I set out, cheerfully as a 49-er looking for that vein of gold, with my Bible in my right hand, and every branch of science in the left. I mined history, anthropology, cosmology, minerology, geology, archeaology, psychology, biology, DNA, evolution, and even tried to understand what I could of theoretical physics. I searched my pan diligently for the smallest nuggets, for even Christ had said, "every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." (Matt. 13:52). With careful eye, I discerned between the gold and the "fool's" gold. Or as Christ would put it, I "winnowed the threshing floor" and "separated the wheat from the chaff."
I discovered gold soon enough. A vein so rich a lifetime is not enough to mine it all out. And soon I found myself digging that vein night and day with no thought to food or sleep...or my Bible. I didn't want to admit it, but that book which I'd read at least six times in it's etirety, dozens of times in major portions thereof, and even taught from, had fallen upon the pile of fool's gold and slag. It was at best, a valuable study in the history and anthropology of one nation, their religion, and it's most prodigious offspring, Christianity, but wholly inconsistent within and without.
There were nuggets to be found, written by honest men who lived honest lives and tried to reconcile the inconsistencies of their own faith to the tangible world they lived in, who dared to ask blasphemous questions, to make unorthodox observations (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs) to even change previously ordained Divine Ordinances (Moses himself, the judges, the prophets, "Christ" and each apostle each modified what was previously ordained to adapt the evolving religion to what was moral and true in their world). All these human writings are priceless to the objective student of religion...but worthless as an anthology of truth!
My energy lagged, and my earlier confidence of forging faith and fact into solid answers melted into a cauldron of questions. Like divergent species on drifting continents, I found what I believed and what I knew to no longer be compatible. I was standing on Pangea, and I needed to choose one land or the other...forever. I could not go back. (I had, after all, lost my fins hundreds of millions of years ago!)
It took ten gut-wrenching months to make the break, and another three emotional years of letting go. Yet five more years have passed, and now I find what I thought I lost, a new contentment, new joy, new outlook, new fulfillment in every day. I don't have eternity, but I have today. I might not have tomorrow. But then again I just might! What can I do today to invest in myself, to invest in those around me, that will reap benefits for us tomorrow? that can be passed on, like so much DNA, to the generations that come after? to ensure them a future after I die?
As I look back, I wonder... How could I have worshipped a god so small? held a view so limited? not asked deeper questions of my faith until my 30s? I have regrets, but one I do not. I am glad I was one of those Christians who actually read my Bible, and believed it, and searched for it's truth...because "the Truth has set me free!"