One of the smartest things I've read was from a photographer who commented that arguments between photographers over ISO noise, the latest new gadgets, wizards, and brainpower in a camera were left to those who would never use a camera to it's potential. It's funny because after spending some time in the industry, you find out it's true. I used to be one of the people, too. Sure a full frame and super high ISO can do things other cameras cant, and maybe the Nikon D300's camera has a more intuitive autofocus than the D200, but most of the time, these points are irrelevant to how good or bad your photo is.
I've got a small fleet of Nikon cameras at my disposal and I think the my best photos were taken with some pretty pedestrian settings. The photographer who taught me the most about raising the level of my photography used a pretty old and tired camera. I think it was a D70. But, his D70 would routinely punish a lot of the average D3 users' output.
Outside of a snapshot or a quick one off demonstration, I would never use program mode (or any of the cute little pictographics drawings on the setting dial). You can see here, my infrared camera is set on aperture priority. I might rescind my comments if I was running around with my flash on camera with no time to make any setting adjustments. I know lots of event photographers who do this, and it might be the best thing to do in those situations. But when you can get away from it, you definitely should.
Looking at photography in it's simplest form, it's nothing more than capturing light (or lack thereof) and how it falls onto a subject. And you don't have to use whatever light mother nature (or Thomas Edison) is giving you. In fact, I would strongly suggest you add your own. Light should be a major consideration when trying to take a superior photograph. Compositional tools, mood, and perspective should also enter in the conversation too. And of course, once you learn all the classic rules, you learn how to break them to your benefit. Clear as mud, eh? Hopefully in the coming weeks it will become more clear!