“I wonder if what I am doing with my life is what God wants for me. I hope my moral conduct meets His approval.”
Let’s assume a person of faith said that to an atheist as they sat under a tree, pondering their place in the world. Would a literal understanding of the Bible help them?
A religious site had an essay by John Bakman. He thinks the Bible offers the same help whether it is literally true, or, metaphor. He gave examples.
The quotes in the Bible attributed to Jesus may not be his words, he said. Backman finds the words attributed to Jesus helpful, but they do not have any effect on the thoughts under the tree about being a moral person.
The same is true about the concept that Jesus died for our sins. Whether it is true or not does not effect the moral behavior of any Christian. If it is important for someone to believe God loves us, the Jesus-died-for-your-sins is an example of love. If it were metaphor it would make the same point.
The crushing commentary of “the last judgement” can also be helpful. But, no one need take it too seriously, Bakman writes. It’s just there to guide one toward moral living.
Most nonbelievers do not share the view the Bible is a source of wisdom about morality. Their sources are the observations and history of humans.
Ironically, an atheist and a believer sitting under the same tree probably will reach the same conclusions about moral living without bringing up the Bible at all.