There is a great exchange between Sam Harris and Phillip Ball which pretty much sums up the intellectual chasm that always grows up when this discussions take place. This paragraph from Harris pretty much sums up my view of the issue:
First off, it is undeniable that most humans are “ritualistically inculcated into stupidity” from birth onwards by their religious parents. Second, it is a perverse (and highly condescending) article of faith among secular academics that people can never be reasoned out of their religious convictions. I have heard from literally thousands of people who used to believe in the God of Abraham—indeed, many used to be scriptural literalists—who were stripped of their faith after a proper collision with Reason. It is quite possible for people to notice how “woolly” their thinking has been, how they were part of a culture grown incandescent with lies, how their parents and elders raised them in a near total vacuum of critical thinking and in complete ignorance of the scientific worldview. Indeed, I once had the pleasure of having dinner with a woman who could pinpoint the very moment she lost her faith, as it had been purged from her mind that morning while reading one of my books. Her overwhelming feeling was of regret for all the time she had wasted over the course of her life. No doubt such a terrific sense of sunk cost keeps many people stuck to a pew. Perhaps not everyone can be reasoned out of his or her faith—but the problem is that we don’t know how fully people’s minds could change because we haven’t really tried (please don’t feel tempted to make yet another tendentious excursion into history and bring up the French Revolution or the gulag). You’d do well to notice how easily children can be reasoned out of their belief in Santa Claus. The all enter school as devout believers, and they all exit as perfect sceptics. How is this dialectical miracle accomplished? Quite simply: there is no cultural support for a belief in Santa past a certain age, and no one likes to be laughed at. Do we replace Santa Claus with anything? No. We just oblige people to grow up.
That's pretty much it. And yes, accomodationists all, hear me when I say I realize that some people cannot be wrested from their faith positions by mere reason (who was it that said what was put there by something other than reason cannot be removed with reason?). Those we leave to you to cajole, persuade, and incrementalize their way to enlightenment. But for some people, a swift kick in the intellectual ass is exactly what they need, and many of us know it because we've had it happen to us, and we've seen it effective in others. Sometimes all someone needs is to have a person carrying intellectual respect to say point blank [best George Carlin voice here] "This is fucking stupid!", and begin a rational dissection.
Hat tip: PZ Myers.