My atheist friends often have Psalm 14:1 lobbed at them as if the verse ends the conversation like a holy grenade! It says, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God".
But the verse does not mean all atheists are fools. It means anyone who "says in his heart" there is no God is a fool. In other words, anyone who denies God for merely emotional reasons is foolish. An issue this profound is not to be determined by one's psychological state or emotional disposition.
The person who has genuine intellectual questions or objections concerning God's existence is not the biblical definition of a fool. God will honor and answer in the humble quest for truth. The honest inquirer is in a better position before God than the emotionally closed-minded.
Since I'm talking about the Hebraic-Christian Scriptures, they repeatedly say we must humble ourselves before God. Think about it. If God exists, humility is certainly in order in seeking Him. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you". "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God", etc.
This shouldn't be hard for the atheist intellectually. Most of my atheist friends agree that humility is in order in the quest for any truth. Don't you agree?
(On the other hand, I can see how horrible I would feel (at least at first) if, say, Islam was proven to me to be true. I would be forced intellectually and emotionally to acknowledge Allah and Muhammad. I would have to begrudgingly and reluctantly bow before them. That would suck! I would acknowledge Allah's existence, but probably continually resist any relationship or love for him until he smote me!
But I must say that my emotional resistance to Islam is mostly for intellectual reasons! Thankfully, I am confident there is nothing forthcoming in Islam that will serve as an adequate defeater of Christ's claims.)
BTW, I am aware of Christ's injunction against calling anyone a fool, yet he himself did. Keep in mind that Christ is forbidding unwarranted name-calling (literally "empty head") from people who are themselves often foolish!
We should also consider that according to Aristotle, pride is merely the proper amount of self respect. Pride is the mean between humble and arrogant/boastful, and therefore, pride is a virtue, as one can never have too much self respect. I also do not believe my statement about clergy is a "generalization" as I have studied with seminarians, and the overwhelming majority end up as clergy because it is an easy job that comes with a lot of clout. I once asked a bishop why he did not tell the "flock" the whole truth. He told me "The poor peasants don't need to know too much."--nuff said.
I am a Utilitarian, and therefore, I believe in doing what is right for the overall good. I wish most Christians felt the same way.
On the humility aspect, a church that I run by regularly had on their sign once, "Without humility, you can't hear God." You seem to be saying something along the same lines. My answer to that church would have been
Galatians 1:13:14 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
Paul has certainly heard God. Yet from his own writings, he was anything but humble. He attacked Jesus, his followers, was the son of a Pharisee, a Pharisee himself, and was fundamentally opposed to God. I would suggest that if God wants my attention, he needs to treat me equally with Saul of Tarsus. Saul was able to hear God. Is he not able or not willing to speak to me as well? If I'm not worth his time, why is he worth mine?
I honestly like your thinking. (I hate patronizing so I mean it.) You are examining internal consistency within a teaching or text, even if you don't believe it.
I think that the requirement of humility is a general principle and describes a normative state of affairs. Saul's conversion was certainly not normative!
But perhaps Saul's saving grace was his intense seeking of God and adherence to what he thought was God's way. He thought he was doing great things for God getting rid of those pesky Christians. Pharisees were certainly not opposed to God and were more conservative than the Saducees.
As for me, I don't think I want any special contemporary revelation from God. Those who've received it, like Paul, pay a very high price! They never have another "normal" day again! I like to chill from time to time! ;)
I'm sure there was something. There's always a personal revelation or some experience which the believer attributes to whichever deity they believe in. Any guesses?
I'm gonna go with the classic, "I met my soulmate. Yahweh is the only explanation."