Sorry about that. Although, you did a pretty good job of squarely nailing some of mine, so here we go: (please don't get upset at what I say, I'm not getting upset at you so much as what you have to say regarding this particular point):
Wanting 'truth' from the universe is something that is probably beyond our grasp. We have to also have to focus on what works.
It doesn't matter. You'll never hear me say that any scientific knowledge is absolute. We've been through that, and I freely acknowledge that no human science or philosophy has any valid claim to 'truth.' Fine. But you take it as free lisence to say "Well, if we can't know anything for sure, I might as well fill the gaps with something pleasant." That is: "Ha ha ha, I can believe whatever I want and you can't ever EVER prove me wrong!" Harv, coming from someone who claims to be a scientific realist, I find this disturbing. Not all concepts are created equal. Regardless of how accurate our perceptions are in our deductions, they're the only thing we have. Any opinion should be at least based off of them. Personally I try to have no "beliefs," per se. I don't believe in God. I don't believe that you exist. I don't believe that the world is round.
I hope there is a greater power. I have evidence to strongly suggest that you exist. I have observational and experiential data to claim that the world is round.
And that's more than enough for me. If you need more for a warm and fuzzy feeling, then I almost feel sorry for you. It sounds like you're running from our inherent lack of knowledge.
I think you are very naive in your understanding of knowledge. Human knowledge is based solely upon our prejudice of what we thinks works to explain the world. That is, a good explanation gives meaning to our sensory experiences. But, isn't that what a theistic outlook does? It gives meaning to our sensory experiences.
Let's get something straight: science does not ascribe meaning to anything. Up until now, science has tried to answer the "how," the "what," and the "when," but has never answered the "why." That falls firmly into the laps of subjective humans to work with. Science does not ascribe meaning.
Now, a guy named Mario comes along and says "you poor sap, don't you know this is all fiction and that you better get on with your life. Stop believing in fairy tales and live life for the moment, because that's all you got baby." What do you think is going to be the reaction of 5 billion people who have nothing of any physical goods by which to evaluate their lives?
I came very close to viewing this as an insult. If you mean to say "Well, good for you, you've got computers and money and flashing lights to keep you distracted, but the Balinese have nothing, so don't spoil their fun" then bite me. :) You think I derive any different pleasure from physical goods now then when I was Catholic? Nonsense. All I did was rearrange my priorities. I enjoy life just as much as I did before (not more, not less) on a day to day basis. I just modified WHAT I enjoy.
You will never hear me say that religion serves no purpose. Of course it does. But are you telling me that I'm being irresponsible by pointing out what I view to be logical fallacies? Come on. The Balinese family won't listen to me. I could never convince them otherwise. I'm not aiming for the desperate, the poor, and the starving who cling to faith like a life preserver. I'm aiming for the people that can do without it, and can maybe be better without it. The ones who can swim.
Why do you think that is Mario? Do you think it might be because the loss of a loved one (e.g., a child, a parent, a sibling, a spouse, etc) might be a little overwhelming for some folks if they have spent a considerable amount of their life with that person. But, gee, don't worry, Mario and company has an answer, you can find meaning in sports, in humanism, in the art that they created on Saturday.
I see. Life sucks and life hurts, so don't bother with it? Believe in an afterlife because it's too painful not to? Are you criticizing me for not having a solution to all of mankind's woes, or are you criticizing me for trying to find Mr. Oz? Either way, I don't understand.