Alma makes the hypothetical argument—“if it were not for the plan of redemption… ”—depicting the world as it would be without the atonement. The atonement is the “it” in “laying it aside.” He is not yet ready to discuss the plan of redemption, because he is making his case for why it is required. Although he acknowledges the plan of redemption, he is postponing that discussion. Alma takes some poetic license here since, of course, he knows that Christ’s atonement was prepared from the foundation of the world (v. 26). Life without an atonement is a dismal state: Humankind is separated from Yahweh because of disobedience and subject to death because of the expulsion from Eden. Thus, human existence after mortal death will inevitably and eternally be spiritual death.