As you may know, I am a follower of Jesus . . . but I am a skeptic.
Not your normal skeptic, though. Most normal skeptics have a certain amount of doubt in considering the God question. Where they fall short is in their insignificant amount of doubt. You see, they have enough doubt to poke questions at belief but not enough left over to poke questions at the very position they are arguing from. Most normal skeptics would doubt the existence of an all-powerful God who could speak the universe into existence but not have enough skepticism left over for the troublesome and intellectually inbred manner in which we might arrive at that conclusion.
No, I say that there is enough skepticism to go around that we can doubt the claims of faith with enough left over to doubt the doubt that we have leveled at faith across the centuries.
And anyhow, atheism needs some more 'umph!' This is where I come in. If I were an atheist, I would concentrate on the following things . . .
And so, as part 2, I would focus on how faith is for the weak.
Jesse Ventura made headlines over a decade ago by saying that religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people. If I was an atheist I would develop this further.
It is obvious that the majority of people who hold to the Christian faith are those that are intellectually inferior to those that are atheistic. The more educated a nation is, the more atheistic it is. There seems to be a correlation between those that think deeply and atheism. I say 'seems' because of the relative nature of intellectualism.
I would develop this further, however, and link it with the thoughts of Nietzsche, who argued that religious faith is an assault on the human will to succeed. Nietzsche had a fondness for the way that the world apparently works: those that have a stronger will, those who possess a greater internal strength are those who seize power and in so doing seize life. This will rewards those who are the strongest and eliminates those who are not. Left alone, the strong would become stronger. Nietzsche's vision was to realize the strength of this power in the collective will to power that would one day liberate mankind from all weakness of heart and mind.
And then enter Christian faith . . . with it's 'brotherly love' and 'dying to self' and consideration of others as greater than yourself. In some circles, the two competing philosophies (will to power vs. sacrificial love) may be arranged in a hierarchy, but it was Nietzsche who desired to present them as mutually exclusive.
In fact, Christian love is the ultimate demon because it seeks to position itself as the greatest thing to aspire to when in fact it is nothing more than a great equalizer - the mode by which the weak are made equal to, if not greater than the powerful. Christianity seeks to invert the natural paradigm of the will to power. Instead of being great by being first, it is now the last who are the first. Instead of being the greatest, it is now the most humble who are exalted. Christian faith, then, becomes the great mediocrity. Instead of mankind continuing to become stronger, mankind becomes weaker. The paradoxes of JEsus' teachings have become ways in which mankind has sought to sap the will to power and elevate the poor and the weak.
So, as an atheist, I would argue that Christianity seems to be targeted to and through the weak of the world. Think of all the vehicles by which this ridiculous idea enters the world:
1. A small band of Bedouins existing between Egypt and Assyria (with perhaps some relation to a group that were nicknamed 'apiru' by the Egyptians - roughly translated 'riff-raff' or mischievous ones). This becomes the family that we know as "Israel."
2. The stories of this family are riddled with famine, poverty, and misfortune - main characters being left for dead, thrown in prison, harassed by authorities, murdered, taunted. These are not world-changers, they are pawns in the bigger game of ancient international politics.
3. The New Testament highlights the arrival of the SOn of God to a teenage girl in a small town on the crest of a hill outside Jerusalem and the only people that show up are shepherds (which were disdained in their day).
4. The Gospel message is carried into the world by men who never made a mark scholastically. In fact, they would have been the academic rejects.
And on it goes. Can there be any doubt that the faith of Christianity is founded on nothing but weakness? Are we not just links in a chain of intellectual inferiority? Of course.
But in an effort to go full throttle on our skepticism, let's not just stop there.
Are we sure that intellectual frailty is the nemesis of truth? What if we thought more broadly than that. What if we were bold with our thinking and rethought what we think we know . . . what if weak-mindedness were the portal to truth rather than intellectual wastebasket? Is it possible that all the ideas that we think we have in our possession about what is real or true are actually hindrances to seeing things as they really are - in all their odd and ridiculous splendor?
Think of this - if the world operates in a mind-bendingly different orientation than we are used to or what we would expect, who would be more apt to hear it - those that think they know the truth already or those that are open to embracing the truth no matter how ridiculous it sounds?
In fact, it makes you wonder how over centuries of history and scores of authors writing from different areas of the world in different world-views all arrive at the consistent ethic of a God who continues to chose the weak and poor. It seems like there is a conscious decision to overlook the wise and the learned in favor of those that are gullible and without credibility.
Is there a message to be deciphered in the shepherds observing the birth of the Son of God? Shepherds were not allowed to give testimony in court and yet they are the ones who observe and give testimony. The disciples were not rabbi material, and yet they are chosen to receive a new revelation. And it is women (again not able to give testimony in court) who observe the single-greatest supposed event in the history of mankind - the resurrection of the dead.
These are three of a long string of a consistent theme in the Christian faith of the weak and the uneducated being selected for truth-bearing.
And of course we arrive at this conclusion - instead of arguing that Christianity is not for the weak, perhaps it is the weak that are most able to hear and accept it.
So I would agree with with you, dear skeptic - Christianity is for the weak-minded. Perhaps in weakness, one is most able to open themselves to something greater. Perhaps it is not so much that God prefers the weak. Maybe it is not so much that God is not up for the wrestling match.
It is just as likely that in your 'knowing' you have selected yourself out of the possibility of knowing something greater.