An Ingenious Self-Deception
When the attraction of succumbing to religion and the displeasure of feeling stupid are equally strong, this leads to cognitive dissonance.
Some people have found an ingenious mental trick to solve this cognitive dissonance.
They created the unitarian universalist church.
They claim it to be an atheist church. That is as convincing as a non-money bank or a non-rail railway. A church is a place of religion and faith instead of skepticism, even when avoiding the word 'god'. The unitarian universalist church has all the characteristics of a church, ministers, sermons, church buildings.
It certainly is not atheistic in the sense of apistia, of the absence of a need to believe and of living as if the option of a deity has never been considered. It is not an atheist church, it is a wanna-be-atheist church, a kind of mental halfway house for those, who are already playing and learning how to be rational atheists. But they still lean heavily on the mental crutch of the religion, that they have not yet really left behind.
The unitarian universalist church is not a church without a god, it is the church of the hidden and unmentioned god. An empty placeholder fills the space reserved for this elusive god. There is an empty frame for the members to fill with their own imagination of the god. The existence of the god is a taboo subject.
The members of such a congregation avoid deliberately to deal with the question of the existence of a god. This taboo of avoiding any clear statement concerning the existence of a god allows the wanna-be-atheists to perceive it as an atheist church, while believers are never challenged in their beliefs. The believers take the existence of a god for granted, and the wanna-be-atheists consciously the non-existence, Both can thus avoid to ever face the fundamental differences between their respective assumptions.
They are encouraged to think and believe, whatever suits their needs. This enables the wanna-be-atheists to attend a church and not feel stupid, they can thus avoid to feel any conscious conflict with their rationality and intelligence.
They continue to enjoy all the emotional benefits of the christian delusion, while they label themselves as atheists. Their consciously discarded god has been moved to the subconscious level. Attending a church continues to have the same soothing effects as if they were still practicing their previous religion with an openly revered god.
It is one of the most ingenious self-deception I have ever come across. It is an amazing mental construction for having the cake and eat it. They enjoy the good feeling of having conquered the stupidity of religion. But they also enjoy the good feeling derived from the delusion of a god, which is triggered by being in a church so much resembling an explicitly christian church. They still enjoy the emotional benefits of the delusion, which at the same time they believe to have given up.
But as ingenious as this self-deception is for those, who need it, it has no appeal to real atheists and apistics. For them it is just pathetic and ludicrous.