There are so many misconceptions and conflations of different things whenever atheism and the role of religion in society or politics is discussed.
Atheism is not a religion but it is imprinted indelibly by the Christian monotheistic God that it denies. Pushed too far it can lead to atheism underpinning 'secular religions' like Communism.
The very notion of Progress is a view of history not as a cyclical process but of a linear ascendancy in which humanity will become more perfect and less degraded by primitive superstitions.
The current trend of secular fundamentalism is based firmly on such beliefs and have a religious aspect because the idea is that by getting rid of all religion people will become wiser and saner.
This is why secular fundamentalists from Grayling and Hitchens are always ready to deny the atheist credentials of Soviet Communism and to blame it only on traditions of Russian despotism.
It should be remembered that often the staunchest atheists in the past such as Thomas Hobbes, at a time when religion was all dominant, still understood the natural desire of man for religion as a rationalisation of human experience and a quest for order.
The religious impulse is dangerous but it is, in reality, ineradicable and to pretend otherwise is a Utopian illusion worthy of the most shallow considerations of religion harboured by fundamentalists.
This is why Dawkins and Grayling are useful when it comes to deflating the messianic nonsense of Christian fundamentalists, though they generally don't give that much time to the Islamic kind which is just another fanaticism.
However, the thing to bear in mind is not to see Islamic fundamentalism or Islamism just as a religious phenomenon but as a political one with complex causes.
The failure to deal with the political causes of Islamism, as well as the conditions of social atomisation and anomie that currently incubate it here in the West too, only intensify the perception that 'Islam' is being 'demonised'.
In turn, that simply confirms to those who see Western hypocrisy over Iraq and the propping up of dictatorships to procure the oil that underpins Western prosperity that secular atheism is part of that 'decadence'.
Religious impulses exist because people want to rationalise their experience of the chaos of life caused by the perennial problems of human greed, selfishness, hypocrisy, and meaninglesness.
One of the main reasons this urgency went away in post-war Britain was the consumer boom and the temporary success of liberal social democracy and secularism which reached its high point in the 1960s and 1970s.
With the return of economic crisis, scarcity, looming resource wars and global insecurity, the placid virtues of that period will soon yield to the threat of political religions as they did in the 1930s.
The secular atheist humanism offers no solution to these problems, no even the beginnings of a solution, simply because secularism and the decline in the belief in God was due to it becoming irrelevant where pleasure became the pursuit of humans.
This please and the divertions it has allowed through consumption have, however, placed severe limits on the environment and the belief of secular humanists, that just by getting rid of religion there could be less poverty and more security for all, runs up against the reality.
Not least, where Islamic fundamentalism is strong because since the post-war period Western nations have supported nasty regimes so as to get the cheap oil that has underpinned Western prosperity.