Just as Unitarianism is the featherbed for catching the falling Christian (Erasmus Darwin), humanism is the featherbed for catching the falling atheist.
What humanism functions to conceal for the squeamish atheist and agnostic (and I am one of those squeamish agnostics) is the radical Darwinian contingency of existence, and its ultimate nihilism and emptiness.
The leadership of China—atheists all, informed by Buddhist emptiness, and unencumbered by Jeffersonian Enlightenment or Western religious concerns about the individual—is taking us down a very different secular path than Western liberal atheists like Paul Kurtz, Jerry Coyne, or Richard Dawkins would have us go. The Chinese leadership is fast leading the world in a eugenic direction—a heightened Darwinian nihilism that we have yet to fathom.
A century from now (if not sooner), the human race will begin to split into two distinct species: the naturals and the (genetically and robotically) enhanced. There may even be artificial intelligence that is conscious and evolving far faster than human beings. And it won’t be religion that will have foisted these effects upon civilization, but the crown jewel of Enlightenment humanism (science) and a Machiavellian pragmatism applied to biology and technology shorn of any humanist veneer.
If, after all, the atheists in China are developing eugenic programs without religious or humanist qualms, it will soon be argued that our very survival dictates that we in the West must follow suit.
And we will.
Eugenics will be the new space race. That’s our future. It’s an atheist one. But not the humanist one Western atheists imagine themselves to be fighting for.