Humans are value producing animals, culture producing animals. In the process of learning to live with others, a process that starts when we’re infants, we fashion values. As we build cultures we fashion group values.
Religions co-opt human values, wrap them up in stories, sew agendas into them, and sell them back to us as something magical. Really they’re the old values that we built ourselves with some admonitions to pay heed to a superstition woven into them. Values come before religion, they’ll be here after our faiths are gone.
Things like love, compassion, a sense of justice, discovery, beauty, joy shared with others. These are things that we humans make, that we prize, that we possess. These things don’t come from authorities or other worlds but from us. We inherited them as sure as we inherited ways of examining situations and our needs and as sure as we fashioned techniques for adapting and tools. They belong to us, we need not purchase them.
The claim that love or joy or a sense of wonder, or of any cultural, societal value, was given to us by gods or some outside entity, is to steal from humanity. It is to give credit where credit isn’t due.
If asked or challenged about where we who do not follow superstitions find value we can answer that we find it as we find the air that we breath and the food we eat. Our values, for better or worse, are fed to us by our parents and families, friends and neighbors, and teachers and cultures. We Atheists, because we are human animals have human values, just like those around us.