(I would appreciate it if people would call me Jaime, if they want to shorten it from Jaimehlers)
(2) Okay, for example, I see a lot of letters to the editor written by true believers. Often, they selectively quote verses from the Bible in order to support their arguments, and I have found that if I go and actually look up what they're quoting, the wider context of the section in general will be at odds with the specific interpretation they used. Similarly, if I am trying to make a point to them, occasionally quoting from the Bible myself is handy. So it's a reference book rather than a guidebook, at least for me.
(7) Well, let's take a concept or idea which existed before science and is not proven by science, such as the soul. Does the fact that the existence of the soul is unproven mean it is necessarily disproven? To put that another way, what science does not observe cannot be recorded or studied and thus falls outside the bounds of science; so the failure to observe something does not disprove the existence of the thing not observed.
To put this in perspective, before we had telescopes, humans could only see stars bright enough to be visible to the naked eye. Afterward, we could see stars that weren't. Yet those stars still existed before we had the ability to observe them. If someone had said that there were no stars but those we could see with our eyes, who could have proved him wrong back then? Based on what he could see, and his own reasoning and logic, he would have been correct. And yet, we know now without question that such a statement would have been unequivocably wrong.
The lack of proof cuts both ways, though. Just as we can't disprove the existence of the soul, neither can we prove its existence. Someone who says "no, this thing definitely does not exist" without any proof is just as wrong as someone who says "yes, this thing definitely does exist" without any proof either. So it's certainly good to be skeptical. Yet, if someone had said a century ago that solid objects weren't actually solid and in fact had large amounts of empty space incorporated into them, who would have believed them without proof? Yet, based on what we understand now, such a person would have had the right of it.
(11) It turns out to be more complicated than I realized when I was trying to explain it before, and I ended up getting some things confused in my head (basically, by trying to justify things without making the effort to understand where they came from). I can explain it better now.
Basically, the (proto)orthodox sect which ultimately shaped Christianity made scribal changes in to the texts order to reinforce their interpretation and undercut that of rival sects which had radicially different views. For example, one sect believed Jesus did not become God's son until his baptism; in effect, he was born in the normal way and he didn't truly become divine until after he died. Another sect held that Jesus was never human in the first place and only had the seeming of human flesh. Yet a third held that there was in fact a human Jesus and a divine Christ, and that Jesus was exalted by Christ but never actually divine. I imagine there were others still, but those are the only ones I know of (source: Misquoting Jesus, Bart D. Ehrman, chapter 6 pages 151-175).
After thinking about it and rereading that, I think I know the reason why I hold onto that title, and it isn't because I need 'comforting' or because of habit or stubbornness(or at least not mainly). Nor is it because I admire Jesus. Honestly, I think I was trying to rationalize it to myself because I hadn't really faced it yet. It seems paradoxical, but I call myself a Christian because what I believe wouldn't be accepted by 'real' Christian believers, because I know that what they believe bears very little resemblance (circumstantial, at best) to what actually happened.
I don't know if that reason makes any sense, but it is a truer reason than what I was fumbling around trying to explain before.
I would like to see a source for the your statement that neighbor meant fellow Jew (anyone can provide the source, I just want to see it). I'm suggesting that it's false, but I want to see for myself.
Do I believe in magic? Not in the sense that you probably mean (incantations, spells, etc). I believe that what people thought of as magic, assuming it was based on something that really happened and not hearsay or coincidence or the like, was really a natural process that could be explained by science. For example, the fantastical claims of alchemy probably came about because of chemical reactions that were discovered by accident. It took methodology and controlled experimentation for people to start understanding the basis by which such things worked - before then, they were 'magic'.
Do I believe in the supernatural? Well, to point to something I said above, the idea of a Supreme Being is not proven, but neither is it disproven. The fact that I've never once seen something happen that couldn't be explained (if nothing else, by probability theory) does suggest that if there is something supernatural out there, it isn't spending any time in our part of the stellar neighborhood.
Do I believe in superstitition? I believe that people who don't have a solid grounding in something can easily come up with an explanation which makes sense to them, but isn't supportable. But I, personally, am not superstitious.
My response to you will necessarily be involved so I will have to post it separately at a later time, so as to keep both to a manageable length.
I hope my response to RNS, above, illuminates my position on why I call myself a Christian better. I was not being very clear before, even to myself.
I do want to point out that in addition to "love thy neighbor" (however it was meant; one has to remember that there was a strong tendency during the first few centuries of Christianity to 'regularize' the gospels, to change their language to match the other gospels if they said the same thing, so it's possible that Matthew said neighbor as in fellow Jew, and Mark said neighbor as in nearness, and the one got changed to match the other, or something like that), there was also "love thy enemy". By no means do I think that anyone should pretend that Jesus did not say things which were bad or did not make sense, but they also do not wipe away the good things he said.
Again, I hope my response above explains my position better.