It is very common these days to hear atheists (skeptics, agnostics, free thinkers, humanists, apatheists, antitheists, etc…) insisting that people who have “religious beliefs” have some special epistemic burden, some particular justification threshold, that they must meet in order to hold those beliefs rationally. It goes without saying that the folks (the atheists et al) making this claim believe that no similar obligation applies to them because, so they think, they don’t have any religious beliefs.
Anybody who calls herself an atheist (or skeptic or agnostic or free thinker or humanist or apatheist or antitheist) clearly has beliefs about religion. It follows then, that she has religious beliefs. If “God exists” is a religious belief then “God doesn’t exist” is as well. Consequently, any rational standard of justification one wants to apply to the person who believes “God exists” applies as surely to the individual who believes “God does not exist” (or the individual who believes “Nobody can know if God exists”).
In case you’re not quite persuaded, allow me to explain a bit more. If Dave’s belief that there is a transcendent form of the Good is a metaethical belief, then Tim’s belief that there isn’t a transcendent form of the Good is also a metaethical belief (and Tammy’s belief that nobody can know whether there is a transcendent form of the Good is also a metaethical belief).
If Dave’s belief that the Nazis started WW2 is a historical belief then Tim’s belief that the Nazis didn’t start WW2 is also a historical belief (and Tammy’s belief that nobody can know whether the Nazis started WW2 is also a historical belief).
If Dave’s belief that the wafer communion becomes the body of Christ is a religious belief then Tim’s belief that the wafer communion doesn’t become the body of Christ is also a religious belief (and Tammy’s belief that nobody can know whether the communion wafer becomes the body of Christ is also a religious belief).
And so, to reiterate, if atheists (et al) want to argue that people who hold religious beliefs have some special epistemic burden to justify those beliefs before the bar of reason, then the epistemic burden applies equally to the atheist (et al) because they also hold religious beliefs.
At this point one might try avoiding being hoist with one’s own petard by refashioning the burden so it applies only to “religious people” and not the atheist (et al). Yeah, there ain’t nothing like doing epistemology with the end goal of ensuring you’re rational and the other guy isn’t.