I don’t agree with Atheists and Agnostics on many things, personally I see to much thought and intelligent design put into all the creation around us. (That is a whole different discussion) I do however see how may have become unhappy or even disgusted with “Christian Religions”. One of the reasoning points a few of my Atheist friends have made is this:
“You should be a good and moral person just because you are a good and decent person, not because you are threatened with eternal hellfire and torture if you are not a good person.” Paraphrased a bit I have a had a few different ones tell me this or something similar.
Now I fully agree that we should be good and moral people taking care of each other as a human race, all as equals, so we agree on that point. I also know that there is no scriptural basis for the teaching of Hellfire and eternal torment for “sinners” as many “Christian” religions teach. (Hellfire again is another subject entirely.) But as a Christian we should show love to all our fellow man because it is the right thing to do just as my Atheist friends have said.
Now the thing is that if we as Christians follow what Jesus taught, then we will do this not out of fear of some torment but because we are following the principles Jesus laid down for us his teachings. In particular take a look at a few verses:
“Jesus said unto him: love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and chief commandment. And there is another like unto this, Love thine neighbor as thyself. In these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Tyndale's New Testament
Luke 10:29-37 Jesus gives the parable of “The Good Samaritan” answering the question of “Who really is my neighbor?” Showing that he expected his followers to be kind to all of their fellow man, treating them as neighbors.
So simply put when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were he said Love God (The Creator) and Love Your Neighbor as yourself. So if we are acting as a True Christian and following Jesus teachings then we would love our neighbor and treat them as we would want to be treated. We would not do this because of fear of some punishment, but because it is the right and moral thing to do. It is what Jesus taught us to do based on principle.
When there are so called “Christian” religions that try and motivate their followers by using things like Hellfire to scare them into doing what is morally right you end up with people who are Athiest and Agnostic having a very valid argument about why “Christians” act the way they do. There is a quote that has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, it has been debated quite a bit as to whether or not he said this and it seems to lean more on the side that he didn’t. (Sources listed at end of article.) However someone did say it and it has been around for a long time, there is a lot of truth to it.
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Whether you believe the bible is divinely inspired, or you believe it is just a good book full of stories the majority of people would agree that if we were to live by the principles Jesus taught the world would be a better place. This is mainly due to the fact that Jesus summed up the “law” in these two things Love the Creator and Love your fellow man. Now if your belief takes the creator out of it then that still leaves loving your neighbor/fellow man.
Again this love would motivate us to do the right thing, and to be good people not out of fear of some type of punishment of torment. The motivation would be because we are following Jesus teachings and showing love to our neighbors.