Unlike many of my fellow hominids, I have never found the religious argument remotely persuasive on either ontological or moral grounds. The argument seems to be something along the lines of "sacrifice your cognitive faculties, i.e. dismiss critical thinking, and rely upon religious authority. Believe us, you'll be much happier for it." So, let's see, illusory bliss in exchange for a life of ignorance?
My answer to those who peddle the dogma of cognitive dissipation is the following: "No thank you. And while I tolerate your right to hold your opinion, could you please promise to abstain from ever running for public office?"
I am more than a little disturbed by the undue weight of religion in the affairs of government. It is one thing for the religious faithful to elect intellectual suicide for themselves, but morally indefensible to legislate it for the rest of society. And I could certainly argue the separation of church and state on rational grounds, but how can one argue the rational against the clamoring solipsism that people of "faith" hold in such high regard?
And here lies the problem: "faith." The word should probably be discarded altogether since it is altogether too prone to semantic ambiguity. A scientist could say that a person may place his or her faith in science, but "faith" here means that one may trust in well-grounded scientific principles that agree with and predict observed phenomena. Scientists and rational thinkers "trust" evidence. However, when religious doctrinaires use the term, "faith," they are espousing epistemological and metaphysical solipsism. Their belief in the invisible is not founded on evidence; it requires no proof. We have a word for this--"delusion." When someone stands up at a public debate and says, "I am a person of faith" (as if this somehow lends credibility) perhaps it might be more appropriate for this credulous individual to say, "I am a person with alarming delusions." And perhaps he or she would receive fewer applause.
Delusion does not bear scrutiny. The proponents of religion equivocate when faced with reason. Their arguments beg the question, inasmuch as they beg to be granted what they should be proving. The faithful will point to their own subjective experiences, but this does nothing to make a case for the objective reality of their assertions. My answer as always is "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."
I have neither evidence for nor experience of anything like "God." What's more, the term itself is problematic in that it's conceptually vague. No two believers ever seem to be able to agree on a definition. The properties and characteristics of the thing in question will differ depending on the person you ask.
As for the non-overlapping magisteria argument, that religion and science are not in conflict, I think the record will show that this is not the case. The church has in the past represented itself as the final authority on matters that are now clearly the domain of science. The church has retracted some of its past assertions concerning matters of geology, medicine, biology, cartography, etc. in the face of overwhelming evidence, but still claims to speak with authority for matters best left to physicists. Science and religion are not mutually compatible ways of understanding natural phenomena. Religion is not concerned with what is objectively verifiable. It is not informed by evidence but by faith. Well, hallucinations and received wisdom from ancient myths don't help us much when we want to calculate the correct trajectory, speed, fuel requirements etc. necessary for a space shuttle to reach and maintain orbit. I penned the following anecdote in response to epistemological relativism, i.e. the position that all ways of knowing are equally valid:
If a mystic were to go before a group of scientists at Oxford University and claim, "The tooth fairy exists!", the scientists, being understandably skeptical, would ask to see the evidence. The burden of proof rests on the person making the claim. But then our mystic says, "I don't need evidence; I have personal experience." The scientists would point out that unless his claim were objectively verifiable, he would have no hope of making a convincing case that the tooth fairy in fact exists. The mystic's statement does not even amount to a hypothesis. I could say that a celestial teapot with wings is doing an Irish jig before my eyes, but unless others can see it, it doesn't do much to demonstrate that the teapot exists anywhere except in my head.