Man is a god-fearing and god-believing beast, and it is extraordinarily rare to find even a single individual, even among the most fire-breathing atheists, who prove themselves entirely immune to the pull of spiritual thinking.
If they aren’t debating the number of angels dancing upon a pin, they are debating how many turbolasers can fit on an Imperial Star Destroyer. If they are not debating about whether or not a given action will enrage Apollo, they are debating about whether or not a certain action will be good or bad for the economy of the nation.
Marxists in particular are often accused of harboring beliefs akin to the Millenarians (in that, after the Communist revolution, there will be no more class strife, and prosperity will satisfy all wants), this tendency is quite often shared even outside their circle.
Christopher Hitchens argued in “God is Not Great” that the literary tradition of the West could supplant the role of religion in providing moral guidance and social structure. Given that the literary tradition of the West has been increasingly suppressed under the rule of secular governments, this notion has few obvious contemporary champions, and seems to be rather muddled, given that the majority of the authors in the canon before the 20th century were devoutly religious.
The Hitchens position is one rather similar to that of the various societies for ethical culture, which are tied up in the history of the Fabian Society.
Instead of endless disquisitions on the Trinity, we have infinite disquisitions on the nature of magic in the Harry Potter universe and whether or not Jedi derive their powers from midichlorians or from some mysterious spiritual source. This is not really secular in the way that many secularists will want to portray it as.
Humans are given to abstraction, speculation, worship, and some measure of superstition. It’s not a question of how to eliminate that impulse, but how to channel it in an effective way.
Yes. Another example is the use of hallucinogens. In lieu of a religion, a lot of folks are turning to this stuff. They imagine they are learning something from their experiences, but they don’t have a framework for what is helping them improve and what is just screwing them up.