1Co 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
Paul in this passage is communicating a very important fact. He is saying that even if God is real and even if Jesus is divine, that if this life is all that there is then there is no reason not to do whatever we want. He says: “Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die”. The scene he paints is one of party, gluttony, and carelessness.
The logic is sound. Pretend there was a God and he sent his son to die on the cross for us. Also pretend we were temporal creatures, we ceased to exist after we die. Should we live for Christ, although it only causes us misery and hardship? Christ did not have an earthly kingdom, and the earliest Christians endured social ostracization, persecutions, and hardships with very little earthly rewards to show. God never did come to earth, give them riches and prosperity, and punish their oppressors. Instead they endured 300 years of hardship before being accepted by the state. Why should those who have died undertaken such misery if they were gone for good?
Annihilation means freedom from judgment, freedom from God, moral law, and earthly authority. The Romans might kill a criminal, but the criminal might enjoy himself until they do. After he is dead, there is very little they can do to him. The killers at Columbine thought this, and took preemptive measures to end their own lives to escape bureaucratic judgment. Paul’s argument is sound.
It is telling that Paul understands this simple concept, and yet he is persecuted as a Christian. He even verbally explores a counterfactual if he is wrong about the resurrection; he understands, in that case, that his persecution, troubles, imprisonments, and other multitude of hardships are all in vain. Yet he endures these to the end.
What this tells the reader is that Paul was sane. He understood actions and consequences, and he understands if death is the ultimate end, then we should live today to the fullest pleasure with total freedom. It also tells the reader that Paul was sincere; he believed what he taught and taught what he believed. If he was a charlatan, he was creating a lot of strife and hardship for himself with no return.
What this also gives the reader, is an argument against modern atheists. Where does their system of ethics come from and why should we follow it if death is the ultimate end? Logically consistent atheists might only exist in the form of the Jeffery Dahmers and Columbine killers of the world. After all, if death is the end, why not do whatever we want at any time?