I'd like to talk about this, I'm not wanting an argument about the rightness or wrongness of atheism itself or belief in God, that's for another thread.
I'd like to dialogue on the practical and institutional changes from earlier societies that an atheist or predominantly atheist society will create, what will be the mediating norms and values in the abscence of those provided by religion?
All religions, I believe, could be defined as Fromm defined them as providing an object of devotion and a frame of orientation, ie ethics, norms, codes of conduct. Does atheism have is sort of character?
For the sake of argument the atheist society has no religious character or positive religious legacies, the reason I choose to set that precondition on the dialogue is because most of the atheist writers which I am familiar with, Dawkins, Grayling, Dennett, do not believe that religion and religious traditions have any positive legacies and see no benefice steming from them. That is different from for instance Erich Fromm who whilst not believing in God or the afterlife, at least in any sense of a transcendent order or being, repeatedly affirmed a kind of spirituality and religious traditions.
So, what are the sources of community, shared identity, motivations to service or sacrifice, motivations to abstain, refrain, cope with temptations, does anyone defer gratification? Considering welfare pluralism is a central plank of social policy irrespective of political trends but especially in capitalist camps who see informal, market and non-governmental organisations unfunded by taxation as the alternative to tax funded social and health services.
Finally, do you think about any of this when you fill out your census information? When it is collected it is used by politicians to make certain decisions and for think tanks to recommend certain courses of action, it is not an enquiry about what way your private conscience moves you or what your existential priorities are, at least not simply, its not simply demographics either.