Sometimes atheists annoy me. It's not that I'm religious. Nor am I mindful of the feelings of theists, which atheists often hurt. Instead, what irks me is that many atheists brag about avoiding one obviously irrational belief (religion), all while they zealously promote an equally fanciful, and today even more dangerous, belief: that political change within capitalist society will accomplish anything useful. You've all seen these people: the obnoxious liberal atheist.
Why should atheists' defense of this one silly idea -- capitalist politics -- bother me? After all, I am unperturbed when atheists like country music, or tacos, or ampersands -- bad ideas all. It is because belief in religion and belief in politics are one and the same. It is a belief that some external force (gods or politicians) can intercede on our behalf either against the laws of nature, i.e., supernaturally, in the case of gods, or against the economic laws of society in the case of politicians.
The Dutch marxist, astronomer, and atheist Anton Pannekoek wrote some very clear texts on religion. One of these is Communism and Religion. In it, he criticized the Russian "Communist" Party for attacking religion while having abandoned marxism. Mere atheism -- bourgeois materialism -- sees "the reality of nature, but not the reality of society, hence only that of the less significant half of the universe." Bourgeois materialism's value...
"is that of an empty hull, of a negative solution, because it merely asserts that the religious explanation of the world, the one by means of supernatural beings, is out of order. The thing that might give it a positive content, -- the real explanation of the world's development, a clear knowledge of the forces and their effects by which our life is governed, -- that is lacking."
So this is one of the annoying things about smug atheists; they are so proud of their semi-ignorance. But worse still, atheist liberals
"... believed that thru knowledge of the natural laws and thru their application in technics, man could master his destiny and thereby also become spiritually free. But this application, the development of Capitalism, gave rise to still greater misery and to unknown powers which were still more formidable."
Whether one believes that salvation comes from God or the state is immaterial; the reality is as the Internationale put it 150 years ago:
There are no supreme saviours
Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune.
Producers, let us save ourselves,
Decree the common salvation.
So that the thief expires,
So that the spirit be pulled from its prison,
Let us fan our forge ourselves
Strike the iron while it is hot.
Real liberation can only come from collective action that creates a society directed by conscious human activity.