'Atoms', 'synapses', and 'evolution' are all things which belong to a conceptual mind; and inasmuch as they correspond to measurements (e.g. atomic energy), they belong to pragmatic models which are derived from metaphysical processes, and which ought to be scrutinized by the philosophy of science (e.g. Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
). If we adopt the view of the so-called "naturalist" philosophers that the mind is an epiphenomenon of synaptic activity, then we have no reason to regard synapses as being "out there" or a real factor of our experience in the strict sense.
The idea that Life is an illusion goes back at least to Platonic idealism, which is the basis of the Western tradition of philosophy as we generally understand it (Nietzsche has done the most of any 'modern' philosopher to resurrect the idea of philosophy as a discipline of action in life or askesis); it also is a powerful element of Pauline Christianity, which in its esoteric origins was influenced by Platonism--the idea being, that one could be successful in life, a good and great man, yet still be a "sinner" in the profoundest spiritual sense. This is a more psychologically thoroughgoing rejection of life than what might be called "cultural Kantianism" which pervades our thinking today (that is, the notion that our cultural experience is representational, but our scientific experience is 'real').