It is not necessary that there is a god so that there is religion or sacred. In that way, even the most secularized societies, reveal residual forms of religious conscience. So, sacred has nothing more to do with divine, but it is the result of an idealization and turning into a fetish of initially profane "things" (ideology, nation, social group, group of individuals, individual, object, sporting aim, moral value...).
See the page about False atheism or the new-sacred ideologies.
The modern world shows such a variety of these new "religiosity" that the concept of religion tends to be diluted in an approach of sacred that is much more varied.
For the modern man, God is no more the single and inevitable explanation of any thing, of reality, of morals, of the human destiny. God has no more his place in the everyday life. He is not more the reference in any field of knowledge.
The development of sciences and individualism, the secularization and the rationalization of society, urbanization... leave less place to the traditional religions that are often lived like constraints.
However, the need for irrationality, illusion, sacred, "enchantment of world" is always very strong. Like that, for a few decades, have appeared some main tendencies, as regards religiosity, that sometimes go in opposite directions:
A stronger emotional dimension within new religious movements (Evangelist, Church of Pentecost...), Oriental religions or sects, in particular those which have the development of "human potential" for aim.
Engagement in faith is deeper, like an avoidance of reality.
A true passion for forms of irrationality becoming substitutes for religions: astrology, clairvoyance, parapsychology, esotericism... that makes the happiness of charlatans.
An individualization of religion, characterized by a strong syncretism where everybody takes from the traditional religions, from the various spiritual movements, from esotericism or even from forgotten worships, various elements to "arrange" a custom-made religion.
Then, a few times after, as in the consumer society, the new beliver will change of his religion when he will get tired of it.
"Everywhere, the model of obeying believers becomes weaker with the rising figures of nomad, "handyman", researcher of meaning. Faith becomes more personal and more critical. The individualization of the ways of believing threats all orthodoxies."
(Frederic Lenoir, French philosopher / The Metamorphoses of God)
In reaction to these tendencies, a return to tradition under the form of fundamentalism allows to the religious community to exert a pressure on its members to reduce their departure. Indeed, these departures, that modernity makes easier and more attractive, are perceived like a true treason of the community, of its traditions, of its values, of its history and like a threat for its survivals.
"The fundamentalist violence is, so is it, an attempt to increase the stakes, i.e. to discourage the potential desertions by showing that defection will cost them dear, that those who adopt other values will be persecuted or even killed."
(Pascal Boyer / And Man Created God)
Confronted with this strong competition, the traditional Christian religions try, in ecumenism or in overtures, to stop the fall of religious practices, with more or less success. Protestantism, whose organization is less centralized, less formed into a hierarchy, less rigid than the Catholic Church, seems to have more success in this attempt, but gives rise to new currents like evangelical or Pentecost Church.
God keeps silent,
God is absent,
God is dead!
It remains his testament, i.e. religions.
Can man live without religion, i.e. without ritual, without sacred, without union within a religious community?
Yes, atheists are convinced of this, but atheism will have reached its adulthood only when it will bring a complete response to the very strong expectations that remain behind this question.