Dennis Pennington has commented that many Atheists carry much baggage from religion. I agree. One piece of baggage I am particularly bothered by is Romantic Primitivism. The myth of the Garden of Eden lives on in a wide spread belief life was better when humanity was still in its most primitive stage. We romanticise about what life was like in more primitive society.
These myths gained popularity when Rousseau wrote the Social Contract and the Origins of Inequality as answers to a questions put out by the Academy of Dijon "Whether the progress of the sciences and arts has contributed to corrupting the morals or purifying them?" and "What is the origin of inequality among men, and is it authorized by natural law?"
Rousseau's answers seem to have appealed to the same impulses of human reasoning as the myth of the Garden of Eden. He stated civilization had a corrupting influence and had created unnatural inequalities "Man is born free, yet everywhere I see him in chains." Yet every first hand account of meeting cultures in our more primitive state, such as Darwin's account of the aboriginals he met during the voyage of the Beagle report how brutal and difficult their existence was.
When I took my grandchildren to see Avatar I was disturbed to see the negative light in which modern technical society was shown. I was equally disturbed to see the romantic light in which the aboriginal inhabitants were shown. This Romantic Primitivism is widespread in our cultural and political identity and I believe it is one of the more influential bits of baggage we have carried over from our religious roots. As Atheists shouldn't we be identifying and exorcising these bits of religious baggage?