Atheism is primarily a response to the monotheistic Abrahamic religions, usually Christianity, and especially fundamentalist Protestantism. Many Atheists come from these places. Jehova’s Witnesses, Mormons, and other heavily cultish or high-demand and literalist denominations seem to churn out Atheism at a high rate.
Mormons insist that their religion is true. Thus, all other religions are false. Discarding one’s Mormon identity, for example, gives the illusion of discarding all religion, believing them all to be equally artificial nonsense. But there is nothing fundamentally different from the Science-obsessed belief system that is Atheism and any other religion. That it has made of itself a belief system complete with such holy men and prophets as Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson shows the essential belief structure of these former Christians has generally remained the same; what has changed is only the content. Relationship with “truth” for example is roughly equal despite the Atheist insistence to the contrary. Atheists believe strongly in an objective Truth, just as do their Christian parents, and just like the Christians rely on intermediaries and methods to obtain at best a quick glimpse at something close to this objective Truth — on the one hand, the mystery of God, on the other, almighty mathematics and Scientific formulas.
The Atheists are not without their Story of the World. Interestingly, they hold a belief structure regarding the way of things that is similar to Christianity. Christianity and its kin introduced to the world a linear cosmological model in which there is a meaningful beginning and end and an all-important middle-ish place; on the one hand it is the atonement, death, and resurrection of Christ, and on the other it is the birth of the sacred scientific method and the period of time known as the Enlightenment. In his time Newton was practically hailed a demigod for his achievements and worship of the man has only picked up momentum over time. Other scientists are similarly given something akin to sainthood in the same manner.
The Atheist obsession with the notion of reason is generally a statement of faith, as few Atheists seem to understand what reason is. Further, Atheists will defend to the death fundamental tenets of their belief system, such as their mechanistic creation story that is the Neo-Darwinian synthesis. Other interpretations of the data, even (especially) mere speculation, is met with hostile defensiveness.
While Atheists may insist that Science doesn’t deal with truth, they hold the existence of a grand, fundamentally inaccessible objective Truth as absolutely real. They thus share with Christianity an obsession with Truth, and though one of the two might hold that Truth is accessible, the other claims it moves ever closer to this Truth, though without ever reaching it, by necessity. This little addendum at the end doesn’t change a whole lot.
Atheism as a belief system was born from the Christian tradition and shows it clearly. Pay attention to ritualistic fear of germs, for example, as though they were warding off demons (understanding the threat of germs doesn’t account entirely for the behaviors), and the fatalistic interpretation of DNA that never needed to have existed and which is generally now disproved with the rise of the field of epigenetics and the like. Consider also the absurdity of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics that insists that at bottom reality is mysterious (how often do you hear science types insist that quantum physics is weird, as though you weren’t allowed to think otherwise?), and that we must simply run the numbers and ignore any further attempts at interpretation.
Atheism became real dangerous when its holy men announced that philosophy is useless, essentially proclaiming the philosophical system necessary for science to function as complete and unquestionable. The first time that I heard this my cult sensors went off and I dropped Atheism as quickly as I had dropped Mormonism. They’re both quite wrong and very dangerous for similar reasons.
As I see it, that’s what’s up with Atheists. Though they preach reason and intellectual integrity, they are as serious about living those as Christians generally are about unconditionally loving their neighbor in non-judgmental brotherhood.