I am not a theist, but over the years, I’ve developed a distaste for the often strident shrieks of atheist arguments. Often times I find that both sides completely miss the point; both of them try to subjugate the other into a set of assumptions that are completely incompatible with each other.
First, as an ontological and metaphysical tool, religion simply cannot have anything to say against the scientific method. Why? Because religion by its nature is not falsifiable, since it does not submit itself to repeated testing of its claims about the natural world, i.e., that God created the world, that everyone descended from Adam and Eve, that a flood destroyed the world, etc. So simply as a descriptive tool, religion fails completely to adequately explain the natural world.
But here is where my first disagreement with most atheists come in. The atheists are right in claiming that science is much better equipped to give an ontological account of the world. However, the same atheists would then go on to attack the religious foundations of morality. The two sets of claims are not inter-related: science can tell you what the world is, but since its central feature is falsibility, it is not very helpful in speaking about ethics. It may be possible that science, with time and research, accurately describe motivations for moral behavior either genetically or through natural selection; but none of this ontological account can provide an adequate guidance for how to behave morally.
Conversely, the theists make the mistake of conflating the moral claims of their religion with its ontological claims, when in fact these two sets of claims do not have much in common. So both sides make the mistake of putting morality and ontology together when they should and are logically apart from each other.
But one might say that if the ontological claims of religion, then what else is left? If one no longer believes that an omnipotent, perfectly-good God created the world in seven days, then can one really call himself a Christian? Further, if ethical claims no longer relied on a religious ontological foundation, then can those claims be called religious claims? The answer is no. But that is only if one chooses to define religion as it is manifested today.
If you strip everything away, eventually you end up with a subjective account of personal ethics, which is inherently not falsifiable in the scientific sense, because everyone is using terms differently, and it’s not likely a consensus will emerge. Then what drives moral motivation? Certainly not reason, because reason, by definition, is transcendental and beyond any single individual. But if not reason, then what? We have no real word to describe the alternative, but the next best thing, you guessed it, is faith.
Which will of course drive the atheists crazy, since faith cannot be falsified through empirical testing. This is where I see atheists as missing the point. Yes, you can show, through empirical observation, that faith in a religiously-oriented ontological account of the world is ludicrous and absurd, but the same cannot be said about faith about personal/subjective moral system.
So this kind of faith is inherently absurd, since it’s not possible, even in theory, to provide justifications that can be proved or disproved empirically. But this in it of itself cannot deter an individual from having faith in his own moral code, one that is divorced from any ontological account. THis is the point that both theists and atheists make.