So is Hume himself an atheist? The word does not fit, and he never described himself as such. He is much too subtle. Philo the sceptic says that we cannot understand or know anything about a transcendent reality that explains or sustains the ongoing order of nature, while theists such as Demea say that we cannot understand or know anything about the transcendent reality, which is God, that explains or sustains the ongoing order of nature. Since the inserted clause does not help us in the least, the difference between them is merely verbal. And this is Hume's conclusion.I like this very much. I cannot see how the word "god" adds anything to a discussion of the nature of the universe, especially not in a spiritual sense. Unless you really believe in a stern old man frowning down from heaven (or Zeus frolicking among the nymphs), which I don't, the word is nothing but an impediment to understanding.
And I liked Blackburn's summation of religion's dark side:
Bad things happen when people decorate their bare, inchoate, unstable and inconsistent imaginings with the baser trappings of their culture. They come out of the fog bearing ludicrous beliefs about cosmology or biology, or carrying their envies and fears, their embarrassments about sex in general or certain varieties in particular, their desire to steal some land or make war on their neighbours. Deities then become dangerous, megaphones through which emotions are whipped up and particular moral demands are given a spurious authority. People need prophets and priests to carry the megaphones, and they are often supposed to signal their rapport with the deity by making remarkable things happen.