To those with the intellect of a precocious adolescent — people like Richard Dawkins or John Cleese — the validity of religious belief is determined by the answers to such questions as, did Jesus really exist or was he a figure of myth, if he lived, was he born of a virgin, did he walk on water, raise the dead, or reappear in the flesh after the Crucifixion.
But the significance and value of religious belief has nothing to do with historical fact. What matters is whether the teachings of Buddha or Confucius, Moses or Mohammed, Jesus or Joseph Smith are true.
Should we forgive our enemies or kill them, is the Kingdom of Heaven within, and should we listen to the still small voice of conscience, should we refrain from lies, theft, blasphemy, and adultery, or indulge the natural passions of lust, pride, hate, and jelousy?
Recognizing the true and difficult question about religion, makes nonsense of the atheist's childish questions. Of course religious practice is nothing but fancy dress, glorious music, stunning architecture, beguiling verbiage and breathtaking works of art. But the function of religious practice is to instil true morality in the hearts of all mankind.
So the most significant question about religion is not the historical validity or scientific credibility of the narrative deployed by this church or that to convey its moral teachings, but the truth of that morality. The point was made with devastating simplicity by Bishop Despmond Tutu when asked how he dealt with an apparent contradiction in biblical teachings.
"Whatever," he said, "is not in the spirit of Christ, I reject. I reject it absolutely."
Which is to say that the kingdom of God is within in you and you should be ruled by the still small voice of conscience.
This is the essence of Christ's teaching, a teaching that the atheist loathes but dare not attack.
CanSpeccy: The Rationality of Christian Faith
Aangirfan: The Bible