The phenomenon of atheism is basically a dialectical offshot of modernity, and it we look at the Enlightenment we don’t see the centre of gravity in atheism: instead we see the critique of religion, and the critique of the god conception, and, or course, much else. To try and narrow the vision of the Enlightenment to atheism (and scientism/Darwinism) is a betrayal of its legacy. Then again, as a moment in the ‘dialectic’ we should respect its probably brief moment. That dialectic will lead to the search for a third aspect, or moment, but that already exists, and is intangible in the phenomena of the post-Reformation, and we can see one aspect in the phase of the Reformation’s conclusion in German classical philosophy.
In fact, the phases of atheism/theism both founder in Kant’s quite different ‘dialectic’ (of illusion) and we can see that atheism/theism are in permanent stalemate. Both positions are incoherent.
The real successor to monotheism is therefore a broad secular philosophy, a detached but vigorous study of science, a critique of scientism, and a robust understanding of the Kantian limits to metaphysics, including the new metaphysics of atheism. At the same time we need a rising sene of the limits of science, its failure to resolve the issues of spiritual conscousness, and the dangers of locking cultures in the ‘Iron Cage’.
A host of issues on which science strikes out, from occultism to buddhist nirvana, need to be faced in an era of robust science in an era of post-science, the classic ‘end of science’ (where science will survive handily as a set of tools). The new atheism shows that science is going to fail us, and can’t even do atheism right.
The real key to religion is man’s ‘self-consciousness’ and the dimension beyond mechanical mind that animates the true species man, homo sapiens, that inveterate spirit-seer, and yogi/buddha.
The new atheism, by constricting vision to bad science, threatens to undermine science, and revive archaic religion.
Actually, the question of religion is ambigous, because the traditional religions have lost their grip on ‘religion’. The passing of the Axial Age legacy will generate a new post-religious quest, and there the new atheism can, at most, clear the air.