Alain de Botton, author of The Consolations of Philosophy and How Proust Can Change Your Life, has a new book out called Religion for Atheists. It
encourages atheists to appreciate things religions do well--ranging from fostering community to orchestrating rites of passage--and come up with
comparably effective atheist versions of them.
De Botton, himself a confirmed atheist, is surprised by how much blowback he's gotten from prominent atheists over this idea. Here he discusses that, and further down the page he talks about (1) how universities could do a better job of one thing religion has long done--conveying wisdom; and (2) how atheists might develop rirtuals comparable to a bar mitzvah or Catholic confirmation.
On bringing wisdom into the college curriculum:
Imagining an atheist version of a bar mitzvah or confirmation: