Perhaps you could validate some of your presuppositions here, it will make it easier to answer your questions. Why do you believe the "Gospel's were passed down in an oral tradition" and what do you mean by "oral tradition"? How many decades do you think passed between the time of Jesus and the writing of the Gospels?
Regarding the "countless inconsistencies and contradictions" are you talking about text variants or are you talking about contradicting reports (ie. how many angels were at the tomb)?
Could you explain why you believe the process of canonization happened "centuries after Jesus allegedly lived"?
Could you site some examples of people being executed for rejecting the "canons"? and to which canons you are referring? Protestant? Catholic? Eastern? In which context are people "socially excluded" for questioning the canon? What do you mean by socially excluded?
I am not questioning your conclusions as much as I want to know how you arrived at them. There are so many complicated issues related to the veracity of the NT and I have often found it helpful to discuss presuppositions and sources of information as part of the overall discussion.
I'm at work and so cannot give as complete an answer as I would like but here goes:
When I say "the gospels" were passed down by oral tradition, I should perhaps have been clearer. The "events contained in the gospels" were passed down by oral tradition before being set down in writing as gospel. By oral trdition I mean the passing on of information by word of mouth from one generation to the next, as was common in the Middle East at the time when literacy was rare. The whole field of Jahiliyah poetry (Arabian pre-Islamic poetry, often hundreds of lines in length) was created in the oral tradition and only set down in writing centuries later.
It is well known that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written several decades after the death of Jesus. You only need to refer to conflicting accounts of events contained in these scriptures alone to notice the myriad inconsistencies and differing accounts of events. Christians say that these inconsistences are irrelevant to the message as a whole, but how relaible can we take the whole to be when the parts of that whole are often at variance? These inconsistencies are not only evident in terms of describing events and people, but are also evident in terms of textual integrity. Early translations of scripture were rather poor in quality, and as such the nuances and finer meaning of scriptural content was lost or misrepresented. This was amended later on when King James commissioned some of the best translators in England to translate from Greek, Hebrew and Latin sources into English, but even this was done with a view to uniting England under Protestantism.
As for the selecting of New Testament scriptures occuring centuries after Jesus died - this is now widely accepted. Once Chrisatianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, it was decided that the Bible needed to be set down in writing once and for all to try to curb the increasingly varying accounts of Biblical events that were emerging due to the lack of a central Biblical source. A council was set up circa the fourth century to this end, comprising of high ranking religious officials. Forgive my lack of dates and specific terminology - I'll amend when I get home.
As for the persecution that befell those that questioned religious orthodoxy (within the spheres of Protestantism, Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy) - there is no doubt that this occured. For instance, English scholars in thirteenth century England were threatened with execution for suggesting that the New Testament should be translated into English to make it accessible to the masses. Another example would be the Inquisition, which bred a culture of fear throughout Europe in an attempt to quell any questioning of religious scripture or orthodox belief or institutions. Within such an environment of intolerance of non-orthodox thinking, how could there possibly be a productive analysis of the veracity of the New Testament?
For me all this adds up to a whole mountain of questions regarding the veracity of the New Testament. There are simply too many questions to make me believe that it is a source sound enough to base a religion on or sound enough to quote from when arguing for the existence of God. It is certainly not sound enough to place itself as a conveyor of historical truth. Sorry....