what I can add to this thread is that it isn't possible to entirely evacuate the self
Yes. The Self is the main feature of the spiritual soul. The soul is always busy, it's not solitary in the sense it's insulated from everything. It's intellect and will are always busy. When I mentioned its solitude I was talking about its NATURE in relation to the physical world. Every soul is a direct creation of God.
but what I would argue is that the solitary consciousness we call me is always under the spell of something else - something sensuous (I guess what you would call qualia John-mann).
That's not qualia but I understand what you mean.
Our intellectual I is under the spell of reading (and this is the difference from oral societies) - this is a sensuous activity as we do become caught up in the world of reading though our senses - reading on the internet for example. we are not even solitary selves when we are reading books.
You're are describing what in Psychology is called "flow".
so your argument that disbelief in god leads to an elimination of the self does not stand up
You only (correctly) mentioned the Self can't be insulated from the physical environment which gives non-stop work to the Self.
My argument is the theistic view gives a metaphysical nature to the Self. This is easy to accept because the nature of Self is scientifically mysterious, science doesn't even have a definition of what is Self and/or consciousness.
If science is totally in the dark about something and if you denies a metaphysical explanation it's logical to assume the Self is an illusion. Because this is the very method that is used to assume God is an illusion. That's exactly what is the eliminativist materialism.