I used to say scientific atheists had everything they needed to be a religion except a deity and a ritual, then I realized they had the greatest religious ritual ever.
The scientific method is a ritual of prophesy. Lots of religions have prophesy rituals. They're a laid out set of steps, and if you follow them correctly and with due diligence then your reward is revelation of higher knowledge. Many of them include narcotics as one of the steps, and often the "higher knowledge" they receive is bullshit, but the form is essentially the same as the scientific method.
Children are taught the ritual of the scientific method at a young age. We even have festivals where children can display their mastery of the ritual called science fairs.
Most rituals appeal to some unseen mystic powers to make the process work. The scientific method appeals to the unknown rules of the universe to make it work. With religion, people often try to assign personalities to the rules of the universe, whereas scientific atheists believe the rules exist by themselves without any sentient force behind them. I can't tell you which is correct, but I have a problem with the concept of self-creating or spontaneously-creating rules.
Ancient mystics went to their oracles to find out why crops were failing and what to do about it, and today we repeat the same process replacing the oracles with scientists.
I don't think science ever intentionally tried to mimic religious behaviors. I think these patterns are just the way people work and we'll always repeat them no matter what our beliefs are.
In the end, science really is just an evolution of religion. I get pretty frustrated with scientific atheists because they present themselves as very separate and superior to religion when really they're doing the same things, just in a different way, and even then, sometimes the differences aren't all that great.