Get your subjects straight, please!
I know we're getting a pretty big influx of theists after the ABC debate, so I'm writing this post to cover what I think is one of the most glaring errors in many theists criticisms of atheism -- namely, confusing what various sciences, terms, and theories deal with, and what they don't. I'll give my list, and atheists, feel free to add to it if I miss something.
Atheism - the position that states that there is no evidence to support belief in a deity. That's it. Atheism does not deal with: Morality, Politics, The Big Bang, Evolution, Abortion, Environmentalism, Astronomy, Geology, or anything else. It is improper to assume ANYTHING about an atheist's beliefs in any of these fields simply because they are an atheist.
Evolution - the theory that explains the way life evolves through adaptation and mutation. Evolution deals only with what happened AFTER life existed. It does not, in any way, address the following topics: Beginning of the Universe/Big Bang; the origin of life; morality; politics, etc... (Note, morality can be discussed as an evolutionary development, but you want philosophy if you are talking about the way you think things ought to be.)
Cosmology - This is what you want to discuss if you're interested in the Big Bang, the nature of the universe, or the possibility of a multiverse, string theory, etc... You won't be discussing evolution, because it has nothing to do with it. Atheists do not have a common belief with regard to any of these questions.
Logic - Logic is simply the description of thought processes. Certain patterns of thought are valid and others are invalid. If you plug true facts into a valid argument, you will arrive at a true conclusion. If you plug in false facts, you will get an unreliable answer. An invalid argument is unreliable regardless of the truth value of the facts you plug into it, and so it is useless in the pursuit of truth. Validity is not the same as Truth. Invalid arguments are described as fallacies. If an argument contains a fallacy, the conclusion of the argument is invalid. Period.
Philosophy - A gigantic catch-all for rumination concerning everything from the meaning of life to the origins of logic, art, knowledge, consciousness, etc... Philosophy is bound by reason, and stives to leave no assumption unquestioned.
Last, here are a couple of words that get molested quite often:
Natural - Anything that exists and has a positive definition. (A positive definition is simply a definition that describes what a thing actually is.)
Supernatural - Like it or not, this word is completely meaningless. Because anything that exists is, by definition, natural, there is nothing left for supernatural to be. Any definition of "supernatural" contains only negative definitions, i.e. "something that is not natural," or "something that is beyond nature."
Science - technically, any pursuit that seeks verifiable truth through the scientific method is a science. In order to use the scientific method, we have to have verifiable facts first. In no instance does a true science begin with a conclusion and work towards the facts. It will ALWAYS begin with facts and hypothesize based on them.
Faith - Again, like it or not, since anything we believe based on evidence falls under science, the only thing left for faith to be is "belief in something despite a lack of evidence, or despite evidence to the contrary." In other words, faith is NECESSARILY opposed to science.
That's all I can think of at the moment. Anyone else got any? I'm particularly interested in topics that don't belong to the science they're often ascribed to.