I am an atheist, and because of that I believe life is precious. Saying life is precious might sound like something a pro-life religious person would say, so allow me to explain my reasoning.
I believe that this short life we are blessed with is all that we will ever have. This is it. By not believing in any sort of Heaven or eternal soul, my life & time here is by definition more precious.
This view also has the side effect of creating a more conscientious view of the planet and other species. George Bush is, by all accounts, a very religious person. His worldview of "man" being the center of all creation and the end times being near (aren't they always?) offers no motivation for environmental preservation or cares for endangered species. In fact, it creates great motivation to disregard such petty concerns. Every issue pales in comparison to the salvation of the universe's most special species (what do you know, that's us! what an amazing coincidence that holy books written by man proclaim man as the center of everything!) The ultimate goal for religious people is not the life they have here, it is living a religious life here to gain access to the eternal life they look forward to in Heaven with God.
Unlike them, I don't view my life here as some cosmic test. To me, this view cheapens life. I don't view my existence here as some kind of pit-stop or waiting room. This is all that I will ever know, so I must do my best to make the most of my life and enjoy it while I can.
It is easy to understand why people are attracted to religion. It must be comforting to think that we are all actually immortal beings that, God willing, will go on to an eternity of happiness in Heaven and be reunited not only with all of our loved ones we've lost but also God himself. All wrongs are righted, and all things are possible.
As comforting as these thoughts may be, I cannot share them. Believe me, I have many religious friends and I have tried to suspend logic and reason in my struggle for peace.
I have lost both of my parents and many close friends. I grieved for them and try to remember them and the impact their lives had on me. I have been to many funerals, and in my opinion the most poignant and touching services are not those that have preachers droning on about God's will and being in a better place... instead it is those that celebrate the person's life and their interests. I want to hear about their passions, their funny stories, their favorite song. I don't want to hear Amazing Grace. (Unless, of course, if that was indeed their favorite.)
I want to hear about the lives they touched, the differences they made. I want to hear how precious their life was. I don't want to cheapen their time here by imagining how their existence is going to be even more glorious in Heaven.