Religious fervor comes and goes, and at the moment here in America it is on a downward slide. Nones is the new name for the religiously non-committed, and they are on the rise, and Unitarian Universalists (UUs) are one of the few standard religious groups that are growing in membership, but they are close to being organized self-proclaiming Nones. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the US Declaration of Independence, claimed later in life that soon everyone would be Unitarian, and the UUs like to claim that our US Constitution was largely written by Unitarians. In fact that liberal world view doesn’t appeal to most people as a religion, even with a small “r”, because it doesn’t provide an emotionally appealing eternal place in God’s creation. Instead UU praises living humanity and humanity’s efforts to live up to its potential, but when you die as an individual your constituent parts, including your consciousness, simply blend back into the stuff of the Universe.
The religiously inclined would naturally ask, “Why should I believe that unprovable point of view, when instead I can choose to believe the alternate unprovable point of view, that my soul will live forever in perfect bliss and harmony in Heaven while in the presence of the source of pure bliss and joy?” Unfortunately for the believers who believe because it’s a good bet, eternal joy versus nothing, or eternal pain, they would be conning their God to accept them into Heaven, apparently not realizing that an all-knowing God would see into their cheating heart and would send them to the deepest Hell, if Hell existed. God, if he existed, would respect a pure atheist because He would realize He hadn’t sent any unchallengeable evidence that He existed, and the atheist was simply being honest by saying he would believe only if there existed good evidence.
The atheists may be honest, and the self-proclaimed believers may be lying about their absolute belief because they see that much of it is made-up stories which they don’t fully comprehend, or believe, but they choose to believe anyway. Their belief binds them together into a strong and coherent community that can defend itself against all threats. It may be intellectually false, but it is politically effective.
From the government’s point of view an organized religious community is easy to control, in part because they are organized, and because they already believe something specific. Furthermore, a religious community is easier to lead because they have already proclaimed their willingness to believe things they don’t understand. Thus, they can be lied to more easily. Unfortunately, there is a proven downside for the government that shifts from a basically laissez-faire position toward religion to a state-operated religion. Rome and its empire chose to become Christian and enforce its brand of religion, and quickly descended into a thousand years of intellectual, social and physical degradation. It’s called the Dark Ages.
Our modern problem is that people are desperately seeking for a sublime meaning to their lives, and religion claims to provide it, but intellectual atheism tells them they must create their own personal meaning for their personal lives, and common atheism is cold and unfeeling.
Statewide atheism is impossible, because people will always be willing to listen to alternate points of view that promise them a better life in the hereafter.