Here's a thought: Who is the more virtuous person?
1. The person who follows a religious creed to avoid eternal damnation, but does not strive to live virtuously, instead taking advantage of the "forgiveness of sins" clauses that are in major religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism).
2. The atheist or agnostic who works to live a virtuous life merely for the sake of being virtuous, with no thought to any reward or any sort of afterlife.
If there was a god, and these two people were standing before you, which one would you let into the proverbial pearly gates?
One theory is that since God standard is perfection, and no one reaches that standard, only those who, through faith, appropriate God's substitutionary sacrifice in Christ are saved, and everyone else is lost.
But there are other theories of heaven and hell. One is that heaven is actually a big bore to anyone except those with a good character. A religious faith that is just a fire insurance policy which allows you to stop worrying about going to hell while remaining indifferent to the development of one's character is a pretty worthless kind of faith. If a loving God runs the universe, then the only way one is ever going to be happy forever in this kind of a universe is to become a completely loving person oneself. You can do some of that on your own power, but that only goes so far, so at some point you are going to have to reach out to that loving God and ask them to turn you into the loving person you are trying, but not quite succeeding, in being now.