I am an atheist, though I prefer the term non-religious. That is simply because I am not sufficiently convinced of the reality of a god, spirit or metaphysical force which created the universe and continues to influence the machinations of the world and the affairs of mankind. I feel the same way towards Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy although I see more evidence for the existence of these three mythical figures than I do for God! My atheism is not a belief system or a way of life or a methodology. It is a reluctance to accept the existence of a deity or spirit due to lack of evidence. Period. It does not define me any more than my lack of acceptance of fairies and little green men from Mars defines me.
I see no "grand plan", guiding force or pattern of events which brings any coherence or implicit order to what happens in the world. To be blunt, shit happens every day to good and bad people and it’s not God’s will causing any of it. Whenever something horrific happens such as the Tsunami of 2005 or the earthquake in Haiti, both of which claimed thousands of innocent lives, it was deemed an arbitrary, scientifically explained natural event. That is the "what". To explain these events in moral terms (the "why") would be a reflection of someone’s opinion (God is punishing Haiti for past "sins"). It is offensive to any but the most judgmental of mankind to proclaim such "why" causes.
The universe is not hostile or malevolent; it is utterly indifferent to our existence. We humans are just one of millions of species existing on a nondescript planet in a solar system tucked away in an arm of one of billions of galaxies in a universe so vast and expansive we cannot even remotely comprehend its dimensions. Instead of feeling lower than a protozoa’s waste because of this, I think it’s awesome…in the actual sense of the word and not the current vernacular in which it gets applied to anything that is slightly out of the ordinary. However, I will point out that a full realization of our place in the universe leads some people to posit that we must be special or chosen to be here presumably by a higher being. Until we can say for sure that we humans are the only sentient life in existence in the entire universe, then that is not a conclusion that can be confidently drawn. (We aren’t even the only sentient species here on Earth! How do we know the entire universe wasn’t brought into being for the creation of dinosaurs or platypuses?)
Our place in the universe does not in any way diminish my experience here on Earth. I am curious and am constantly fascinated by human nature, scientific discoveries, great works of art, relationships, cuisine, wine, sex, etc.! I am happy, well adjusted, with two healthy and happy kids, a great girlfriend, great friends, good health, and many other things to be thankful for. I have all of these without God’s being in control of anything. I, also, have never been arrested, I pay my taxes on time, I say "please" and "thank you", I hold the door open for people, I help others when possible, I give to charities, etc. I accomplish all these things without being told to do so by a priest or getting my instruction from the Bible, a book containing stories of heinous behavior, unspeakable cruelty and massive internal contradictions.
Religion and gods do not play any role or have any effect on my life. I do not consider myself anti-religious. I believe all individuals have the right to practice whatever religion, spiritual journey or subscribe to any belief system they wish ... up until the point it interferes with the rights of others to pursue their own beliefs (or non-beliefs). In a pluralistic society there will inevitably be clashes and skirmishes, and those usually fall to the judicial branch to be resolved. Thomas Jefferson described the wall of separation between church and state and that has been the guiding principle behind the resolution of many of these clashes. I hope it continues to be.