** What’s “God” got to do with morality? -- Nothing! **
You have only to step outside monotheistic thought patterns to understand how much western atheists and theists alike operate on the narrowest bandwidth of “knowledge”.
If your model of religion is based on the big-3 near eastern monster-theisms, you won’t even understand truly Western (Roman or Greek) philosophical theories and practices so vigorously suppressed by byzantine jack boots of a near eastern church militant.
1. There is no inherent relationship between religion and morals.
2. Xian “ethics” is not ethical at all.
>> The near eastern gods fail ethics 101
Jesus’ “interim ethic” contains no morality at all. (Search on “interim ethic.”) And, Paul’s “advice” to brothers in Christ is poison, intellectual and puritanical nihilism.
Pristine xian “morality” is irrational, otherworldly, and impractical. It promises much, but delivers nothing. The kingdom of god will be childlike. The world to come will need no Law or Ethics, religious or secular. Jesus’ ‘interim ethic’– “take no thought for tomorrow” — doesn’t outlast a first generation of cult followers.
Jesus thought the world would end soon. So did his immediate followers . . . that's why Paul (who never met Jesus) has to calm a freaked out a first generation of dupes when some of them “fall asleep in the Lord” before their revenge filled hopes could be fulfilled “according to Scripture.”
The world did not come to a fiery end. The dead did not rise to put on incorruptible bodies. The living did not levitate. Christ, the vengeful judge, and his 10,000 angels failed to fulfill Paul’s promise to the great xian unwashed living in urban slums throughout the Roman Empire.
Ever since, Pauline intellectual nihilism, coarse sexual puritanism, and misogyny have been the official party lines. (Try reading your Bible, 1Cor1:20-26 for starters.)
As for the disgusting morality of the NT?
“God’s only excuse is that he doesn’t exist.” -- Stendahl
I've come across this very argument on my own blog on numerous occasions. My response, every time, has been "Which part of *insert holy book here* are you going to choose to disbelieve next? I personally find it alarming that many believers have no problem changing the interpretation of their holy book, putting some fantastical feats and situations firmly in the "literary licence to emphasise or illustrate a point" section while other, equally fantastical aspects are blindly accepted. This, after all, is the book they base their entire lives on. It seems they are happy to alter it to suit their own morality and circumstance. Surely if the book really was the word of God, his word would be powerful enough to convince without resorting to hackneyed literary techniques and there would be no ambiguities. I truly believe that if there were a God, there would be only one religion, the correct one.
How does this argument really work to make them question their position. I don't see anything wrong, from the POV of a believer, with being 'metaphorically saved'. In fact I have often heard people say just that. The kind of person who views the bible metaphorically can by no great stretch consider themselves metaphorically saved.
I think you make a good point here, and I might be able to better frame some questions now when conversing about literal vs. metaphorical aspects of the bible