Fear of the unknown can be a frightening thing. So people believe because they want to have hope that there is something more beyond this life. No one likes to believe that this could be all there is. Even I will admit that I would rather be wrong and a place exist that would be like heaven because their heaven (in some ways) certainly sounds like a nice place to be, but I cannot accept this on faith alone, I require proof.
I have had people of faith ask me if I do not believe in God, then what do I think will happen to us after we die? I answer this question the same as I would answer any question that I do not have enough knowledge to answer, I say, “I don’t know”. Of course, I wait in anticipation for their reply, which is usually something like, “see you just admitted you don’t know!” It is true, I don’t know, but neither do they. They have fooled themselves into believing they do, and that when they die they are going to a much better place where there is no pain and suffering, a place of complete happiness…a place called heaven. Of course, they do not really know what happens after we die anymore than I do, they simply believe in something that they were convinced of, and they have convinced themselves it’s a fact.
I don’t know what happens after we die or what it will be like, no one does. If I had to guess though I would imagine it will be a lot like what it was before I was born, and I don’t remember that either. It makes more sense though that we might go back to the same state of non-existence that we were in prior to our birth.
No, theists have no greater knowledge of what happens after death than do atheists, we just choose not to replace one unknown for another one…or said another way, we do not make up fairy tales to take the place of our lack of knowledge. There are things for which we do not know and understand, we may one day, but as for now we do not, and atheists accept this fact.