As an atheist, I respect life more than any theist. This has been discussed among friends and comrades lately. It's true that I personally see life as pointless, at least my life, but that doesn't by definition devalue life in general. And atheism has no apparent impact on how much the numerous atheists in my life appreciate how exotic is life in the universe; atheism can make life quite precious. I don't value my own life, but that has nothing to do with my atheism; I despise myself and would eradicate my existence (meaning never have been born) in a minute. I ache inside and wistfully imagine a wonderful world that didn't have to endure my having helped poison it. Suicide is awful, as it hurts the living, and there is enough pain in the world; I know that now. I have tricked people into loving me, and they would feel betrayed by another suicide attempt, nevermind a successful suicide. Therefore, as an atheist, I can say that I appreciate the spectacle of life, in all of its splendor and horror. But the whole wheel could have turned without me, and I wish it had.
Call me a "whiner" and I will nod, and go on wishing it.
But it's a mistake to blame my lack of spirituality on my self-loathing. If I were a devout anything, I would find myself hating god; it's better this way. For one, I get to pity myself and every little thing. And being pissed-off at the Almighty for all the pain and cruelty hidden in the garbage is pointless. What do I know about being a deity? Besides, I can't help but know that there isn't a god...there isn't. It's been the Issue of Greatest Concern in my noggin' since I was age 9. If you know of a god out there, have the fucker drop me a line.
So in short, atheism sees life in contrast with the void. Look around the universe and see how rare is life. They should put "Life" on the Periodic Table of the Elements and rate how infrequently we uncover it here and there. Perhaps not.
Again, the rules change for everyone when we look at ourselves alone within the world. Then I can understand the desire to want to let things move without you. I hope that makes sense to those who love me.
But above everything there is compassion, that I know. I never knew of anything that didn't benefit by it, or suffer from its opposite, cruelty.
So there's that.