Religion in its purest form is fundamental to its followers. They have absolute faith and shun, ridicule, and attack any who don’t believe as they do or challenge their faith. They believe that bad things happen to sinners i.e anyone who doesn’t follow their viewpoint.
The level down from this is people who are more open to ideas that are scientific. They don’t see this as an alternative to their faith, more as human answers to human questions.
When there is a war, catastrophe, or pandemic as we are experiencing now, many ordinary people get hurt or die. Religion can give platitudes to the people but no answers that have or give meaning, other than it is God’s will.
Science does try to give answers, it offers a more concise brand of hope, one which centers on the here and now. This has been given clarity in the present pandemic. People can see it is people who are helping people. This shifts opinion away from faith.
The world we live in is moving away from the steady-state of religious belief, or at least is becoming more polarized. We are also becoming more sophisticated and have greater access to information and knowledge. We are learning how to ask questions, where to look for answers and how to reason.
Religion used to be a comfort, a plan that God had made for us, however unfair it seemed, we would be saved if we followed God’s plan. This world, this existence, was preparation for the afterlife.
We now ask why does it have to be that way? For many, this isn’t good enough. The expectation to do as you are instructed to do without question, in order to attain something which cannot be proved and has to be taken on faith does not sit well with those that question.
For a lot of people, religion has no relevance in their lives. If you take nothing from something you still have something. The immediacy of modern living has crowded out belief systems that are archaic and anachronistic. To bring these “up to date” many of the old teachings become invalid and or unjust or just plain wrong. The issue is that these are the teachings handed down from an infallible God.
So who is wrong?
The feeling of unease when trying to square the circle especially one carved in stone, leaves a bad taste and a feeling of hypocrisy, misguidance and out and out lies. The revelations of child abuse, holy wars, misogyny, misappropriation and interfering in the political landscape, dialogue of hatred to others, and a catalog of other crimes and misdemeanors also leave people feeling that Atheism is just right.
Lastly, you don’t have to believe in God to do the right thing. Atheism is not a moral pejorative, it simply does not require God in the human equation for that equation to be right.
It’s not that they don’t believe in God, just that they don’t believe there is a God.