What parts of the Bible should be taken literally?

First off, I'm Christian. I guess what I'm really asking is, what parts of the Bible should be taken figuratively? For many atheists or unbelievers, they point out many different things, things that might seem abominable to humanity, such as slavery, or the destruction of homosexuals. But those arguments are always... show more First off, I'm Christian. I guess what I'm really asking is, what parts of the Bible should be taken figuratively? For many atheists or unbelievers, they point out many different things, things that might seem abominable to humanity, such as slavery, or the destruction of homosexuals. But those arguments are always countered with "No. That wasn't supposed to be taken literally."

So what is supposed to be taken literally, and what should be taken as figurative or symbolic? Isn't it wrong to make anything that sounds evil become "symbolically taken" and at the same time, claim it's right to accept anything loving as literal?

One story I'm referring to: Jesus sees a fig tree. It doesn't have fruit that he can eat. He cripples the tree so it can never bear fruit again.

So literally... Destroy those things that doesn't satisfy your desire simply because you are able. If something doesn't satisfy your desire, make it such that the thing will never satisfy your desire.

Symbolically... I've been told this represents that Jesus' arrival to Earth is inevitable. I really don't see the connection, but still.

So how are you able to know what's to be taken literally or figuratively?
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