Your contributions to this thread are some of the best stuff I ever read on this forum. You already know we share similar points of view on this subject, but the way you expressed them here was simply superb.
I think the whole problem of atheism is the illusion that we are not going do die. Sure, on a rational level we are fully aware of it, but I don't think our subconscious, which is what really controls our emotions and our intuition, fully grasps the extent of the problem. It seems the conscious mind is "theory-oriented" while the subconscious is "experience-oriented". Since, until it happens to you, death is a theory rather than an experience, some people don't really act as if they believed they were going to die.
I have it with me that you can only understand life if you understand death. Of course you can't fully understand death until you experience it yourself, but I find that simply meditating on the subject, instead of making it a taboo, is enlightening enough. And once you understand death, it becomes clear there are only two alternatives: either God exists and life is good, or God doesn't exist and life is just needless, meaningless suffering.
As you said, we don't know what the case is, and since we don't know we must choose to believe. And I'm as puzzled as you are as to why some people choose to believe that life is just needless, meaningless suffering, although I suspect it's simply because they don't understand death - they feel as if they're not going to die.
I used to worry about those people, but I realized that since they're obviously mistaken sooner or later they will have to face the problems in their philosophy. It may happen when a loved one dies, it may happen when a major tragedy strikes the land, it may happen as the result of a medical diagnostic, the fact is it will happen. They can run but they cannot hide, and that is the truth.
So all that remains to be known is whether the big puzzle of our lives resolves to a glorious truth or an unbelievably gruesome eternal silence. We'll see. Or not.