Andrew Brown is onto something by defining religion as either “a philosophy [or] a myth that you can dance to.” Atheism is un-danceable, by which he means it lacks an animating and socially unifying element — which religion plainly has. More:
Against this point the committed atheist replies exactly as a liberal protestant would have done 20 years ago: bums on pews don’t matter; he or she is in the business of truth, not numbers, and the truth must in the course of time prevail. I don’t believe this. I don’t believe it in either case. Individualism without some myth of the collective is quite powerless. This is clearly illustrated by the Tea Party in America where the myth of a particular sort of extreme individualism is inseparable from the myths of a particular sort of America whose history has been invented in almost every detail.
If I’m right, then liberal, individualistic atheism is impossible as an organising principle of society because any doctrine that actually works to hold society together is indistinguishable from a religion. It needs its rituals and it needs its myths.
But what about Communism? It was an atheist pseudo-religion, with its myths, its rituals, its saints, its icons, its doctrines, its holy places, its martyrs, and so forth. And it collapsed. Why did Communism fail while Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and other faiths persist? Because it was wholly falsifiable, perhaps?