I'm going to start a new post, because the old one is getting cumbersome being loaded with so many issues.
Howard brought up the question of rationality, non-rationality and irraationality and later Howard said: Ira is right that we can’t expect all of mankind to become rational after being indoctrinated with organized religions’ dogmas for so long. But why excuse or promote this inflexible irrationality?
I'm not comfortable with calling religion irrational. Let's start with the dictionary definition of rational. Mine says that rational means having reason or logic. It seems to me that for the most part religions are logical and have reasons for what they propose. Let's also stipulate that we're talking about religions with a personal god, i.e., a supernatural being having personhood or intention. Although you and I may believe no such being exists, that doesn't automatically make the religion irrational. I would contend that all thinking requires a leap of faith at some point. Euclid's geometry is held to be the ultimate in rational thinking, but it requires faith in certain axioms in order to get started. The Declaration of Independence rationally explains why the Framers believe they are correct to separate from England, but they require an intuitive assumption. "We hold these truths to be self evident.....) All reason is built upon assumption. One of the reasons we come to different conclusions about almost everything in this world is our intuitive assumptions. For example, almost everyone in today's America would agree by virtue of rational thought that it was wrong for Europeans to take this land from the indigenous people. However, many people of the nineteenth century would start their reasoning from the axiom that no people nor person can truly possess a piece of this planet. Possession does not come simply by being born in a place. What one possesses comes only from conquest and the constant defense against incursion by others. Thus with a different first assumption or axiom, one arrives perfectly rationally at two very different conclusions concerning the taking of land from the Indians (or anyone else).
As to the idea that religious indoctrination being virtually unassailable simply because of age, I have to differ. I don't think that the age of a tradition has anything to do with its survival. What counts is the number of people who currently believe in a tradition. When that number is beyond a critical value, the tradition is very difficult to overturn. I don't think the age is much of a factor except as a measure of durability. The traditional place of women in society was thousands of years old when it was overturned in a very short time. World War II, The Pill and the disappearance of the icebox contrived to make the old tradition obsolete. The survival of a tradition has more to do with its benefits and its adaptability. If a tradition cannot bend, it will break. Religion has shown itself valuable to the individual and society despite a changing environment and has been able to make small adaptations. To my mind, the most important adaptation in the survival of modern religion has been to look the other way when the membership sins. The "love the sinner, hate the sin" concept in modern Christianity is ingenious. It allows a member to attend church on Sunday and lie, cheat and steal on Monday with impunity. Hence, humans can remain members, pay their tithe and do whatever they wish without the condemnation of their peers. That's a lot of flexibility.
Let me finish with a short Wikipedia quotation concerning one of the strange fathers of rationality. "In Croton Pythagoras established his academy and became a cult leader. His community was governed by a large number of rules, some dietary, such as those commanding abstinence from meat and from beans, and others of obscure origin, such as the commands not to let a swallow nest under the roof or not to sit on a quart measure. The movement was united by the belief that “all is number.” While the exact meaning of this may be none too clear, that it led to one of the great periods of mathematics is beyond doubt. Not only were the properties of numbers explored in a totally new way and important theorems discovered, of which the familiar theorem of Pythagoras is the best example, but there also emerged what is arguably the first really deep mathematical truth – the discovery of irrational numbers with the realization of the incommensurability of the square root of two."