Practical Atheists

"Practical atheists also have buried their souls.  But they have the appearance and color of life although they are dust within.  The gospel terms them whited sepulchers.  It would be too optimistic to pretend that their time has passed.  Yet to say that they will be of no great use in the coming struggles and hazards of civilization seems to be an understatement." 

-- Jacques Maritain, "A New Approach to God" (The Range of Reason, p.100)

The Ultimate End and an Atheist Outlook

"Atheism begins with a kind of new start in moral activity, a determination to confront good and evil in an absolutely free experience, by casting aside any ultimate end—a determination which is mistaken for enfranchisement and moral maturity and boils down in reality to the complete giving of self to some earthy "Great Being": either Mankind as for Auguste Comte, or as for others, a Work to be done or a Party to serve.  At the same time the relation to the absolute Good which the moral good essentially implies is abolished, and as a result the very nature of the moral good is changed and is replaced by an idol."

-- Jacques Maritain, "A New Approach to God" (The Range of Reason, p.98)