While I think religion is irrelevant, the religious don't. That's the reason there is criticism of religion, they interfere with secular stuff and consistently take a stand against everything that makes the world better. As long as they keep doing that, religions are actually political ideologies and need to be opposed as such in the political debate. The respect for religion and its status as a protected category is of course bolloks as long as it interferes at all with worldly matters. If it does, it is by definition political ideology and should not have special respect or protection.
Debating causes people to think harder about things they would otherwise take for granted. Believers end up reading the Bible more closely to figure out how to address issues that others point out with it, and strengthen their resolve and faith as a result.
Non-believers learn to think rationally about arguments before trying to present them to others, and end up recognizing that there are holes in science which can't explain alot of things yet, giving them a goal to learn about.
Yes religious debates in general tend to become caustic shouting matches, but in theory they can be used as a tool for enhancing both parties as people regardless of whether or not either side actually "wins".
There are bigger reasons than our religious opinions that are stopping moon colonization or Half Life 3. Namely, why would anyone really want to live on the moon? HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOON? Its not a colorful place.
If we take a look at history, we see how much, time money, and lives have been lost in the name of religion. Imagine if the money used to build a church, was used to build a hospital. Or if the lives lost during the inquisition were allowed to live in peace with their families. My point is: Religion, itself, obstructs productivity much more than debating about it
You're never going to change someone else's views. So don't try. Don't argue with them, tell them it's stupid not to believe in what you believe, that it's more rational to be a non-believer than to be a believer - of any religion, really. You come off as arrogant. Just stop. There's a difference between telling/implying someone is stupid than saying "You're wrong and here's why."
At the end of the day, the bible is a book, and you have to take the word of the author that it's stories are true.
At the end of the day, the Big Bang theory is theorized to be the beginning, but no matter what you can simply keep asking "What created that" and we would have no answer.
Neither religion nor science has much solid evidence as to what truly started the universe. (the very very very beginning) Since we have no evidence to prove the beginning, do we really have to argue over this subject at all? Its the equivalent of a court case in which someone is accused of murder without evidence. He could have done it, he could have not done it. God could exist, or he could not.
Even if you CAN prove something, does it matter? Let the nonbelievers burn in hell and let the believers live in a false religion, in the end, it doesnt really affect you. But just because someone believes in god doesnt mean that they cant help end world hunger.
So instead of yelling at each other over this, lets colonize the moon, or invent an affordable form of clean energy, or make Half Life 3.
I am truly sorry to tell you guys this, but Religion is stubborn. No matter how much scientific mumbo jumbo you bring to the table, the Religious will always carry on as they always have. It would be more constructive to stop debating about it so much, though I do think a nice healthy debate is good, it has to end at some point. This debate has been going on for thousands of years. When does it end? It should end when we accept that people hold different beliefs than ourselves and we should not argue with them, that is of course, unless their beliefs harm other people directly, meaning if your beliefs specifically state that you are supposed to hurt people. Anyone who uses their own religion for abusive ends is a sad case of someone who cannot accept other people for who they really are. People.