Instead of worshiping God, which we see as a fictitious intermediary inserted between us and life, atheists worship life direct. We prefer our tonic strong, not weakened with sweet lies. We want to drink the truth about life, not willingly fall for obfuscation. We refuse to abdicate common sense.
And what common sense tells us is that we are bodies, that we were conceived not as a result of some spiritual enterprise but because our parents had sex. (Or otherwise joined an egg and a sperm cell.) We came into being not as a result of the mingling of souls but as a consequence of the mingling of cells.
And common sense tells us that eventually we will die.
It tells us something more, something truly profound: death is final. With the loss of the body, life is no longer possible. Frightening as this may seem, it is just common sense. Without our bodies we cannot have sensations, cannot feel, cannot see, cannot hear, cannot emote, cannot think. Without body, there is no way to do anything.
All our experiences are the body’s doings. Existence is unavoidably body-based.
Common sense also tells us that we can’t be switched to another body. Not even to an identical body. We know this because identical twins are nevertheless separate people. The death of a twin is no less a death simply because there remains a clone still alive. And this tells us that we are our particular body, not some other; makes it clear that our identity is our body.
Because this is so, even the highest God can not preserve us after death. Even if such a God could create a clone of me and instill it with all my old memories, it would not be me. It would just be a clone being tricked. Any new memories the clone formed would be its memories, not mine. Were God to proceed to punish the clone, it would be the clone being punished. Its pains and memories of punishment would not be my pains or memories.
Once we die, our existence is extinguished, our unique identity broken, and even God is incapable of bringing us back. Not even for divine retribution.
All this follows because the soul is but the body in its aliveness. That is, soul is a quality bodies have at birth and lose at death. It is not something with independent existence. If the body dies its aliveness disappears, unreturnable. And the soul can’t be anything else, it can’t be extra-corporeal, because without body it has no way to be or to do. Disembodied aliveness is simply an existence impossibility.
So when the body dies, it is specifically the soul/aliveness that has ceased to exist. The body still lies there in the casket, and in fact the body will be resurrected into the bodies of other organisms as they break it down and devour it. The soul ceases, and the body is resurrected.
It is just a matter of common sense. And strangely, it enriches life to know the truth.
It is good to be able to cease and non-exist. It makes life incalculably valuable—something to cling to for all we are worth.