Now atheists have a book -- Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton -- addressed to increasing their knowledge of the beneficial aspects of religious practice without trying to convert them to theism. I'm in the theist camp myself, inclined to Christian belief, but I very much enjoyed de Botton's thoughts about the milieu I share with other believers. The guy is a charming writer of the hyper-clever and articulate sort that Britain seems to produce far more often than we do.
Here is a sample describing what he finds in the Catholic mass:
That is probably the rosiest, most optimistic, description of a Eucharist I've ever read. In real life, most church communities replicate the divisions of class (and race) that pervade their societies. But I like to think he has gotten to some essence of what our practice is meant to be about. He goes on to propose a nutty idea for an "Agape Restaurant," an imitation of church that he thinks would overcome some major social ills.
Gosh, the guy sometimes reads like Paul of Tarsus: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one …" He just leaves out the "in Christ Jesus" part.
I have no idea what this book would mean to an atheist, but as a Christian I found it challenging and affirming of our better aspirations. If the atheists were to follow de Botton's suggestion that they "steal" the best of religion, we'd all be better off.