What is Post-Atheism?

Man looking ahead

Have you heard the term "post-atheism" used by people in the atheist movement? What does it mean? I have encountered a few definitions of this term. I've always thought that the best one was the idea that post-atheism refers to the mindset that while one is still an atheist (i.e., one does not accept the theistic belief claim), one no longer considers atheism to be a significant part of one's identity.

One way to look at post-atheism would be to say that it would describe us all if religious belief were to disappear. In such a scenario, we'd all be post-atheists because atheism would be too irrelevant to have any value in our identity. This would be sort of a life-after-atheism scenario. But this is not the way most people use the term. Most use it to describe a step they reach after atheism.

Some have gone so far as to suggest that post-atheism is a more mature and thus more desirable state than atheism. That is, post-atheism reflects a more clear-headed and less angry stance that some atheists will eventually reach as they evolve beyond atheism. Perhaps there is some truth to that view.

Others have suggested that post-atheism is not only not a step forward but a step backward. They argue that post-atheism is an excuse for disengagement and apathy. A post-atheist, they argue, is a burned-out atheist who has given up. That strikes me as confusing atheism with secular activism, but I could be wrong.

I do not consider myself post-atheist, but I often wonder if that would change if I lived outside the Bible Belt. I do feel like I understand the post-atheist mindset, and there are times when I find myself drawn to it. But it never seems to take long for an egregious example of religiously-motivated bigotry or a serious church-state violation to bring me back.

What do you think of post-atheism? Does it represent a meaningful next step for atheists, or is it an excuse for disengagement? Is it a goal toward which we should be working or something we should hope to prevent?