Lost among the shit-flinging over at Lothar's blog (sorry pal) was an interesting conversation about weak versus strong atheism.
One thing I encounter a lot in these online discussions is a certain kind of burden-dodging when it comes to arguments: (typically Gnu) atheists try to insist that they merely 'lack God belief' rather than 'believe God doesn't exist'. Thus, they are making no claims, and have no burden as a result.
A problem that routinely comes up with this move is that Gnu atheists I argue with typically switch back and forth between making and not making claims. Sometimes this honestly seems like ignorance - other times, it's a bad attempt at bullshitting. If you tell me you merely lack belief in God and are not claiming God does not exist, alright - I think that's often nonsense, but I actually won't press it. But they cannot claim that they lack God belief, and then a moment later start telling me how God doesn't exist or is extremely unlikely to exist. The moment they make those claims, they've given up the weak atheist position for the strong atheist position - now they've got a burden of proof. For various reasons, most atheists are positively allergic to this burden.
So, there remains weak atheism - mere lack of God belief. Putting aside problems with defining atheism in such a way, I think what goes underappreciated is the position that that leaves the atheist in. A weak atheist, pretty well by necessity, also has to 'lack belief' on the following questions:
The truth of naturalism or materialism.
The question of whether or not evolution is ultimately guided by God or gods.
The question of whether or not nature in general is ultimately guided by God or gods.
The list goes on, but those? Those are some key pieces of intellectual territory that have to be evacuated by the consistent weak atheist. Number two alone is too much for most of them to swallow, since evolution's main intellectual appeal for the gnu atheist is in its supposed demonstration that there is no design in nature - but if one is silent about God's existence, then one is likewise silent about God's activity and providence. If someone asserts that evolution proceeds without guidance or plan, by necessity the question of God's existence comes into play - and we're right back to making claims and getting burdens.
The cost of intellectually avoiding burdens is having vastly fewer arguments. You'd think this would be appealing to people, and yet...