I just posted a comment on UD which I thought might be worth expanding on and sharing. The context was this OP from News (Denyse). In it she wrote:
Does any reader know of an atheist who plays Christmas carols every year in front of his family and lab staff, and who reads T. S. Eliot aloud to his wife and daughter on his deathbed? I certainly don’t. I’d be willing to bet Professor Coyne that John Franklin Enders, who has been called “The Father of Modern Vaccines,” believed in God and didn’t view religion as a cause of sickness.
I was very surprised by this. She seems to be assuming that all atheists are cut off from their religious heritage. We are not all Richard Dawkins (although he has always valued the contribution of religion and Christianity to our culture and knows the Bible better than many Christians). I like to go church from time to time and appreciate the role it places in our community. My wife, also an atheist, is a long-standing member of the choir. I absolutely accept the importance of Christianity in moulding who I am and the society I live in and I don’t think of this as a bad (or good) thing. We all live in some context. So why wouldn’t carols, TS Eliot and even the Bible be an important part of my life – just like Shakespeare and the Greek myths?
Atheism is not a religion. I suspect some theists don’t quite understand the implications of this. Atheists have no rituals,no festivals,no classic literature,no community identity,no common beliefs beyond a lack of belief in the supernatural. If you are an atheist then typically your atheism is not an important part of your life. The new atheists seem to be trying to change that. I don’t see why. It seems artificial. There are plenty of other elements to our culture which are more deeply engrained and satisfying than not believing in something. (In fact I signed up as a Bright briefly but I found there was nothing in it for me).
It would be interesting to know how many other atheists here share this attitude.