Taking the Bible Literally

I have a strange and unusual notion that text means what it says. At least, it does by default.

If I write a note, "I'm going to the store to buy three hundred dozen eggs.", it should be understood that, what I meant, is what I wrote. Why would that be a problem?

Of course, people often write innuendo, analogies and metaphors. That's fine, and many Christians say that the Bible teaches through those metaphors and parables. Maybe God is just poetic at heart. I'll grant that some things can be lost in translation too.

Now if only the fate of my eternal soul (if I had one) didn't depend on understanding a multi-translated wildly open-to-interpretation doesn't-mean-what-it-says book.

So let's grant that the Bible (whichever version we're going with) doesn't actually mean what it says. You, as a Christian, are essentially advocating that I doubt what it says... which is an odd position to take, but okay. Instead, I need to interpret it through some sort of lens, to decode its true meaning. Maybe that's as simple as understanding the contemporary language the people used at the time.

From an atheistic perspective, there's a few problems here.

First, once we depart from a literal interpretation of what the text says (assuming we're not factoring in language), we've opened a can of worms. Now it's open to a mess of different peoples' interpretations. Now, not only would I have to read and and study the literature that justifies a specific interpretation of a passive... for each and every single passage in the entire book... but now I would have to cross-compare hundreds of different interpretations from different people (per passage).. then try to come up with some kind of metrics for figuring out which interpretation is actually the correct one.

Second, that's too much work, I admit. I don't have so much time and energy, and I don't personally find the Bible to be that interesting. If anyone posits an interpretation that differs from a literal one, the onus is on that person to make his/her case as simply and effectively as possible. If that person cannot do that, it's not my problem.

You, Christian, are the one who wants to convince me of a claim. I was just going about my business in life.

Third, why is God so utterly bad at communicating? Why is there even a problem with translations? Why didn't he create a pristine original version for each language? Why rely on a thousands-year-old text to be re-interpreted, and then diversified into a hundred different interpretations from every other person who has an opinion?

Maybe we should all defer to the original Aramaic and Greek writings, but why use long-dead languages? Why not something more universal? And why only in select parts of the globe?

The mere fact that the Bible apparently can't be taken literally casts a huge shadow of a doubt upon it, in my mind. Especially if it's supposed to come from (or even be inspired by) an all-knowing all-powerful being. 

This can't all be true at the same time. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't both have an omniscient/omnipotent being, and have a holy book where every problem can be dismissed by his communication problems.

So unless otherwise noted, I'm going to default to the Bible meaning what it actually says.