Since I turned churchless, I've become a way better person. So I can testify to this truth that has been been revealed to me by the grace of absolutely nobody but myself:
Agnostics and atheists are better people than believers, by and large.
Note the "by and large," which protects my truth from being challenged by someone pointing out that agnostic/atheist human X is a world class asshole, while religious human Y is a marvelous example of what us Homo sapiens can become.
I shall now engage in one of my favorite blogging activities -- demonstrating with impeccable logic and crisp prose why my viewpoint is correct. So be warned: if you are a religious believer, a central foundation of your faith is about to be demolished.
Namely, that God or some supernatural higher power guides those who worship Him/Her/It to develop much better personal qualities than the fallen like me, who once were relgious but now are not, or the permanently felled who have never believed at all.
Untrue. False. Wrong. Here's some examples why.
Humility. We agnostics and atheists don't consider ourselves to be the center of the cosmos, as believers do. We don't consider that God takes a special interest in us, while condemning others to suffer hellfire, bad karma, rebirth as a slimy slug, or whatever nastiness supposedly awaits the unchosen people.
We see ourselves simply as ordinary humans living ordinary lives, which is pretty damn extraordinary given that the vast majority of people on Earth see themselves as privy to divine truths inaccessible to the vast majority of people on Earth (echoing Garrison Keillor's description of Lake Wobegon as a place where all the children are above average).
Courage. We agnostics and believers face life head on. We don't sidestep problems by pretending they're something other than what they are: challenges. We refuse to believe that God or some other invisible higher power is pulling the strings behind the scenes, guiding life's events in mysterious ways.
Instead, we set out to do what needs to be done without imagining that a divinity is walking along with us. We don't waste time praying for success; we simply work for it. When we fall down, we get up as best we can, as quickly as possible. We don't wait for a sign from God, or support from a fantasized supernatural presence.
Faith. We agnostics and atheists don't worry about whether the cosmos is going to treat us fairly. We don't feel a need to petition or pray to whatever/whoever is running the show of this universe. We accept that what the laws of nature bring about (which naturally includes our own efforts) is what is supposed to happen.
Accepting that we can't be sure about the next moment, much less about what will or won't happen after our own last moment, we do our best to accept the reality of death -- not sugarcoating it in a fantasized fashion -- in accord with the lyrics, "whatever will be, will be, the future's not ours to see." We trust reality; we don't entreaty it.
Compassion. We agnostics and atheists don't see ourselves as separate from our fellow human beings. Since we don't consider that anyone is headed to a special heaven after death, we're committed to making this world the most livable place possible, for as many people as possible.
When someone is suffering, we don't say "it's God's will" or "they must have done something wrong in a past life to deserve this." We step forward to help them, recognizing that there's no higher power producing goodness on Earth other than what we humans muster up.
I could go on in this vein, but I feel like I've made my point. No matter what moral quality religious believers espouse as their special province, us agnostics and atheists have excellent reasons to argue, "No, we're better than you on that... by and large."
I realize that I might have undercut my humility credentials by being so outspoken about why churchless people like me are so cool. Well, if you've got it, there's no reason not to flaunt it.
I'm just telling it like it is: there's no desirable human quality that agnostics and atheists don't manifest more fully than true believers, because we don't dilute it with religious crap.