Bilgrami calls on us to investigate questions like this rather than spending our time to point out irrational thinking (he says it’s very obvious that ideas of God are irrational). Religion bashing doesn’t get us anywhere. We need to start looking at the needs met by religion and religious institutions. I think answering these questions is an important next steps in making secular humanism a viable option in the U.S..
Reading on the Frame Problem about yet another attempt of sneaking ID into classroom reminded me of a discussion I watched yesterday. Akeel Bilgrami, a philosopher at Columbia University, raised an interesting question during an interview on the Humanist Perspective (a show put together by the Center for Inquiry; also see this comment for another link): What is it about the US that makes it such a fertile ground for things like creationism, ID, and other non-scientific nonsense? New Zealand supports evolution. In Europe, evolution is not under attack (as far as I know). So, there might be something rather unique about the US. Bilgrami suggested that a possible reason might be the lack of any social democratic tradition in the U.S. (he mentioned unions in particular that were not offering a secular community). The attitudes that have prevented such things as universal health care might tie in there as well.