Man, I don't know if I want to jump into this very active thread or not, but I don't feel like starting something else, so here I am. This isn't directed at you madmatt112 or anyone else in this thread, I'm just chewing the fat here.
faith cannot be reasoned and reason cannot be taken on faith.
While not exactly focusing on the same thing you're talking about, I think one of the important things for people to remember (both religious and non-religious) is that we're often tempted to make conclusions that fit our world view and then seek ideas and evidence to confirm it after the fact. If we're all being honest with ourselves, we all do it to varying degrees and frequencies, for any number of reasons. It's easy, it's comforting, it feels good, just to name a few.
One of the things that can make religion particularly prickly, and I'm mostly talking with revealed religion in mind, is that the belief system often intertwines law, philosophy, spirituality, and metaphysics in such a way that whether or not certain concepts are believable are wholly contingent on whether or not you accept and believe other concepts in the same philosophy.
For a super stripped down example, if someone from an Abrahamic Religion was asked whether or not they believe animals have souls, they'd probably answer "no." The logic might flow something like this. Man was created in God's image, so only man has a soul. Evidence of a soul is the ability to know, recognize, and come to God, and therefore exhibit Godly attributes like wisdom and knowledge. Humans are the only animals on the planets to embrace science and the arts to such a massive degree and this is proof God has given us souls. Therefore only humans have souls.
What that logic relies on is A) souls exist, B) God exists, and C) metaphysically the two are aligned in that particular and specific way. Since we don’t know for certain any of those three points, all we can really know for certain is that only humans have significantly higher cognitive abilities. The spiritual hows and whys are then taken on faith. Where it gets interesting though, where it gets challenging, is that because our religious faith helps to form our morals, that world view affects how someone views animals and therefore how they treat them. Combined with other religious beliefs and cultural beliefs, that means that we can run the whole spectrum from “deforestation and factory farming is okay” to “I need to embrace veganism because as a child of God I’m a steward of the Earth.”
What I’m trying to get at, is that it’s important to examine our faiths and how it affects us and to notice and reduce the blind spots that our faiths create. The more we rely on faith alone to influence our behavior and the more gaps we allow it to have, the more we run the risk of having compromised morals.
As a somewhat related aside, one of the other challenges that we have to contend with is that religion often reinforces and rewards the behavior of finding proof in subtlety and nuances. As a result, a positive feedback cycle can often be created, in that we find nuances to reinforce our world view and we adjust our world view to look for more and more nuances to reinforce and justify our beliefs. We end up looking for that needle in the haystack, so focused on the needle that we forget about the haystack, the tree it’s sitting under, the forest the tree is in, and the fact that it’s the middle of a December night and we’re standing in a random forest in Washington trying to find a needle.
Me personally? I've read up on a ton of religions over the course of my life. I love learning about them. They're absolutely fascinating and colorful and inspiring. For each one though, I've found stuff that I've found weird, uncomfortable, confusing, and sometimes silly. Yes, even my own. I'm not going to say anything particular about any religion, partly because my reactions are shaped by my experiences and world views, but more importantly I try to go out of my way to not disparage the beliefs of others unless there is an issue of deep and immediate concern. That said though, for every person out there (religious and secular), if we don't find things about our own beliefs that brings up hard questions, there's a pretty good chance that A) we're not as well versed in our beliefs as we think or B) we're not looking at our beliefs, our lives, and our selves objectively.
Understanding others and understanding ourselves fundamentally, both in a religious and in a secular sense, comes from asking questions, doubting our own preconceived notions, and challenging ourselves to dig further and learn more. Sitting idle isn't gonna take us anywhere. (Edit: That's one of the things that's wonderful about this website in particular. I have participated in and watched many challenging, insightful, and sometimes frustrating conversations.)
So to make a long story short, there can be reasoning found in faith, but we need to be really careful with that reasoning and how we wield it. This applies both to religious and secular beliefs.