That is like saying were no such things as doctors before 1796 (when vaccines where invented), or like saying that there are no such things as Persians in this day and age. It is a chicken and the egg sort of fallacy. We are talking about things which have a long history of change and continuity both. So there is less reality in the arbitrary lines you are drawing than in the statements of the Bible.
There are numerous puzzles with regards to statements of people’s ages in the early part of this text, but that is no reason to think that the story isn’t essentially historical. Though, of course, this is far more likely to be put in the category of a tale than history, and I am not even sure it fits the modern category of biography.
People do much crazier things than this. I don’t find anything particularly unbelievable about that.
First of all these are stories in which people tell us what they see and not some science text which give a reasonable account of why they see what they see. Sometimes bizarre events like manna falling from the sky can be found to have perfectly reasonable scientific explanations. For example, the pillar of fire following the Israelites at night and a pillar of cloud by day sounds an awful lot like a nearby volcanic eruption to me. This pillar of salt is no exception to such speculations.
No. Nor do I believe in talking snakes. But I do believe in a spiritual aspect to our existence and that people can experience this aspect of our existence is great variety of ways. For example, I have no reason to believe in fairies, ghosts, or UFOs, but this does not mean that the limits of my experience define the limits of reality. Though the lack of objective evidence does strongly suggest to me that these are in the category of spiritual experience. The talking donkey like the talking snake may be just a literary device, or it could be a actual experience. I am reminded of that TV show “Wonder falls” where a girl experiences inanimate objects talking to her.