I place a heavy value on evidence, and in my opinion, that’s the only universal standard for discerning truth. Study of writings is dependent upon interpretation (and that, assuming that we could all agree on a single writing to be universally “true,” which is impossible), prayer is entirely subjective, tradition should always be questioned, and advice could be argued as the blind leading the blind. I know some very smart people that believe in some very ridiculous things. I used to be one of them. And the funny thing? Although I see myself believing in much more true things as an atheist than I did as a Christian, there are many Christians that would say I am farther from the truth now than I ever have been.
What, then, is universally true? Can we ever know anything? I believe that we can, and that the only way to do so is through evidence discovered in a scientific way.