I hope I do not offend anyone, but here is a nearly entirely historical approach to the whole jesus/ bible thing...
That Jesus existed is not a contested historical issue - he did exist, records show this (and he has been mentioned in other contemporary writings, and roman writers such as Tacitus have also mentioned him). His place in 'history' is clearly that of the same time as Herod and Pontious Pilate. Obviously the debate is whether or not he is god, or son of god or whatever. In terms of jesus being a fruad, he never (according to the gospels) claims to be 'god' and the titles he uses of himself were used to mean 'holy' men (such as 'son of man') and had been used of Old Testament prophets previously. The trinitarian approach of jesus being god was only made official doctrine at the council of calcedon, in (i think) about 460AD. In the light of this it is extremely hard to paint him a 'fraud' - afterall, do we even know whether what he said according to the gospel accounts was really what he said at all?
On paul, no, he did not write a gospel, he wrote his letters, of which the letters to the corinthians are the earliest section of the gospel to be written. He never met Jesus, and it is unlikely that the writer of the gospel of john ever met him (jesus), as this is the last section of the gospels to be written (around 100ad) and as such reflects the greek philosophical ideas of jesus, god etc (that jesus, knosis, existed from beginning etc... read john 1:1) as a pose to the more hebrew ideas of the synoptics. It is not known if the other writers of the gospels knew jesus. It is however inaccurate to say that paul does not reference the action in the gospels - he talks of the passion and ressurection in corinthians 15, which as i have said is the earliest of the writings in the new testament.
However, from a historical point of view, the 'bible' cannot be discussed in a 'its crap/its fab' sort of way - this type of discussion disregards what the bible is. Firstly, it is NOT one book, or one story. It is a collection of books which have different authors, were written in different times and crucially, for different purposes.
A lot of the old testament is historical, describing events that have been historically proven. However, what must not be forgotten is that these histories were written with the idea of an interventionist god in mind (not the omnipotent, omnibenevolent etc. god that so clearly shows the greek influence on the early christian church fathers). Therefore, the historical events described in the old testament can be a source of revelation for a believer. This does not mean that that a non-believer should disregard them as completely fictional, merely that both sets of people should be aware of the contextual issues as well.
Apart from the historical stuff, there is a great deal of poetry in the Bible. Whilst it is true that for a believer these works can be of great inspiration, from a non-believing perspective they are still fabulous works of art (the book of job is a good example, being well respected as a work of literature alone). That a non-believer should ignore these texts due to their theological implications is a real shame, a waste. For the same reason i would still reccommend the works of Dante, TS Elliot, Gerald Manley Hopkins... well, you get the idea.
There is also the moral aspect of the bible, which, whilst i am in no way saying that anyone without religion/faith is incapable of being a 'good' person, it is still a comfort to know exists. Fighting those who use religion as a weapon for entirely non-christian (in my opinion) ends is that bit easier when your arguement (against thier actions) can be substantiated with scripture.
Finally, i think it is important to point out that not all people with faith/ in a religion are fundamentalists. Not all christains disregard 'science' as wrong, as a test from god. Many see a certain harmony between science and religion. Both are, afterall, using similar methods, similar types of knowledge and are similarly effected by thier context and the humans that create/discover them. In my theology class of around twenty, there is one conservative creationist, and one atheist. The rest are 'christian' of varying denominations, each with separate opinions on how the bible should be interpreted. As you may have guessed, i like the historical approach. Anyway, Just as not all agnostics/atheists hold identical beliefs, I hope all christians will not be viewed as one body. As i dont doubt everyone is aware, there are as many interpretations of the different books in the bible as there are people.
Sorry about the length of that... hehe, once i get started...
Um, actually, one *real* last thing... it would be good to see a bit of mutual respect for everyone's own beliefs here - what right do any of us have to condemn anyone else for taking the leap of faith that leads to either atheism or theism? our motives are our own.