Can't remember where I read it, but the idea was that we all get what we believe. If we believe there is no life after death, for example, then that's what we get--zilch, nada, oblivion. The main thrust of the idea, in other words, referred to the consequences of our beliefs after we die.
But I chose to think of it as applying to this life, the one I am in now, because we do create our own reality by how we interpret things and how we apply those interpetations to our attitudes and actions. If I believe I am a dirt bag, for example, I'll tend to act like one. If I want to think well of myself, I will most likely behave in a way that helps rather than hinders my self esteem and my relationship with other people.
In this life, in other words, we ourselves are the primary source of what we get or do not get as a result of how we interpret life. And belief or disbelief is only one aspect of those interpretations. A secondary source is of course other people who react to dirt bags in one way or the other. Or the wall into which we are beating our head...
But in the next life, if there is one, what or who measures out the thing we get? And is belief or disbelief in some god, the only factor in determining what we do or do not get? If belief or disbelief in some god is the only criteria for what you get, I'm thinking that's a pretty shallow approach for a supposedly divine being. I mean, how "divine" is it to decide a person's eternal fate based on the short span of a human life and how vulnerable it is to good and bad choices?
And which god rules the outcome? There are thousands of religions, each apotheosizing a different god. If the christian god is the only one who really exists, or is the most powerful god, then disbelief leads to a lake of eternal fire. I can only guess what non-believers in other religions "earn" with their disbelief from those gods. If it's Zeus, what do unbelievers get?
I do know, however, you can be a believer in one religion but an atheist with respect to another. The early christians were called atheists by the Romans. Muslims consider pretty much everybody else as atheists worthy of immediate extermination--at least that is how I read the literature.
I like your question and the replies it has attracted. But I'd like to ask some more...
Which atheists are you referring to?
Are you limiting your question to the lack of belief?
Are you willing to include other aspects of an atheist's character?
Are you willing to expand your question to life in the here and now?