I was pointed to this article by my favorite Article Portal, Arts & Letters Daily. It reminded me of some of the thoughts going around in my house when I was growing up. I don't know if we were atheist or agnostic or what, but we didn't go to church (or any temple) and Easter meant searching for M&Ms in the morning (we had cats who weren't interested in such things).
Clean Slate - not born into sin; born innocent
Self-Sufficiency - no one is going to save us but ourselves
I have since become a very active Episcopalian. I pray (hope, cross-fingers, meditate, hang out in neutral). I've found that some things I thought were gigantic thoughts are actually not that big. To miss someone is to notice that they're not with us. That can be a REALLY sad thing, or it can be a small thing. To be thankful doesn't necessarily mean to grovel at anyone's feet, kissing them (although it could). To notice that something is good or nice is a way to be thankful (or to have gratitude). A sin is not eternal damnation. It can be something considered to be a shame. It's really some sort of separation between people. If a person pulls away from others continuously and is generally miserable, it is a sin (it's a shame). If a person disregards the needs of others, it is a sin (and a shame).
I've found that translating these metaphors has added to my life. I believe that someone who is atheist or anti-religious is missing out when they don't notice those things.
I don't know what to think of the clean-slate. But self-sufficiency is something that I would suppose anyone values.