First off, thanks for all of the responses. I'm seeing people on this thread that I haven't seen before. So, hey there.
Shador, I have read the God Delusion. Dawkins comes on strong but many of his points are sound. Your admission of ideas being taken with a grain of salt shows humility on your part. Unfortunately, that trait is often lacking when believers and non-believers express their viewpoints. We seem to have this tendency to want to be right about the unknowable.
Giordano, Is less religion in the world really good news? Do you think that religion is more a force for bad or a force for good? Do some people NEED religion?
Band on the Run, I agree that these stories were meant to serve some purpose. Teaching morals, lessons, etc. When these stories teach something that is considered to be "true," as in, "treat people the way you want to be treated," many believers point to that as being so universally true that it must be from a Divine source. One kernel of spiritual "truth" can be a little building block for faith. But I'm a skeptic. I need more. I lack faith. So where do I go to find it?
Flipper, Religulous: Good film. I too recommend it.
I need to read some Jung.
tec, Allow me to argue that most people learn of Christ through some sort of religion. Would that be a fair statement? If so, then wouldn't that belief have some semblance of religion, even if the believer moved on from organized religion later. And if not, would you say that your ideas are entirely your own and no religion aided in your understanding of Christ? I ask because I hear others talk of Christ in this way but since I haven't had that experience, I can't relate. Also, could you expound on you reply to Flipper about Jesus giving you answers? How does that work?
Mad Sweeney, "...intelligent custodians of our planet and civilization." Lovely. That is something I can believe in.
Qcmbr, I'm glad you jumped in on this since the topic is based on something you said on a separate thread ;)
Gladiator brings up an interesting point regarding "freelance" believers. I can respect that. I also find that the "freelance" types can better articulate their unique viewpoint compared with the average religious follower. It's a fault of mine but when I hear a response that sounds like manufactured groupspeak regarding a religious - or nonreligious - position, my gag reflex goes into overdrive. It's one of my complaints about JWs.
OTWO, You're right, "religious" is a loaded term. But I think we've done fairly well in this thread not getting too hung up on it. You also said, "IF THERE IS NO WAY TO CONFIRM OR DISPROVE A CLAIM, THERE IS NO REASON TO ATTACH ANY SIGNIFICANCE TO IT." I would agree but only under the condition that every avenue to confirm/disprove has been taken.
How could one of these so-called "unprovable stories" be proven correct? What would it take to convince a non-believer?
For those who haven't weighed in, what do you think about this statement "All religious belief distills down to faith in utterly unprovable stories?"