I know very few atheists. Even with the New Atheist authors and movements that have enjoyed some popularity–Atheism just doesn’t seem to take very well. It’s actually a very difficult worldview to live by. Agnosticism, Deism, or some other vague spirituality is much more compatible with obtaining and maintaining a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
This is not to say that atheists don’t live with a sense of purpose: indeed, the New Atheism has been rather aggressive in its purposes–its “evangelism.” Many are quite vocal in their desire to rid the world of superstition and religion which, they argue, is fundamentally oppressive. Often, there is obvious altruism, an admirable, even courageous commitment to truth (as they see it), and a well-meaning effort to do good to the human race behind their efforts to deconstruct faith in God. I can (and do) appreciate all of this.
Appreciate, and yet still ask: What’s the point? If there is no mind behind the universe, where do you ultimately derive meaning?
Even non-Christians are uncomfortable with this tension in Atheism–which is precisely why Agnosticism, Deism, and miscellaneous spirituality are immensely more popular.
Here’s the non-Christian, “Philosopher Emperor” Marcus Aurelius, making a similar point:
Either the world is a mere hotch-potch of random cohesions and dispersions, or else it is a unity of order and providence. If the former, why wish to survive in such a purposeless and chaotic confusion; why care about anything, save the manner of the ultimate return to dust; why trouble my head at all; since, do what I will, dispersion must overtake me sooner or later? But if the contrary be true, then I do reverence, I stand firmly, and I put my trust in the directing Power.Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 92.