"atheism is simply an absence of belief"
This simply is not true. Atheism is a a stance that believes God does not exist. Belief is not absent. It orchestrates your every decision and action. Your belief that there is no God is your faith statement. Atheism is based on faith, not science. Through the filters of atheistic belief, one interprets scientific data. Science does not prove or disprove atheistic belief or theistic belief.
"atheism is not specifically non-christian"
In this debate it most certainly is.
"'Why do religious people demand rigorous, empirical evidence as disproof, but require no evidence themselves for belief?"
I don't think this question makes much sense. Perhaps you typed too fast. "Religious people," as you call them, require no evidence because they are convinced by the evidence put forth in the Bible and by the evidence of God's working in their lives.. And further, again, there is no scientific evidence to prove or disprove. Couldn't the same question be asked in this manner - "Why do atheists demand rigorous empirical evidence for proof in the existence of God but require no evidence themselves for their belief that He does not exist?"
"'Why are our modern laws and social values more moral than the bible (regarding capital punishment, incest, age of sexual consent, slavery, and civil rights of women and children)?'"
Ummm. . . what? More moral? By whose standards? Yours? The Bible may include stories and events where things we would call immoral take place, but as a whole it does not condone any such thing. The heroes of the Bible (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David,etc) are shown for what they are - people who longed to follow after God but were never perfect. The fact that their sins and wrongdoings are recorded in the Bible should demonstrate that the Bible is being honest about the dealings of people and why the cross of Christ was necessary. In the books of Kings and Chronicles, a precursory reading would show that what is pointed out more than anything are the sinful acts of kings who disregarded God and the desire of kings to follow after God - the two are compared. King Omri, under whom Israel grew to it's largest size and influence, is mentioned only in passing because he was ungodly. No mention of his accomplishments because ultimately they meant nothing.
You should read the gospels, at least, before you go making silly comments like that. Obviously not informed. Jesus was a champion for rights. His treatment of women was unparalleled.
Age of sexual consent? The Bible is clear on what is moral in regard to sexual conduct - marriage. Don't get any moral than that, unless all it is about is you wanting to please yourself regardless of the impact upon society. Don't even act like broken homes and single mothers and absentee fathers don't impact society. Consent doesn't make it right and appropriate.
"'Heaven: Wouldn't any intelligent mind go insane if conscious for all eternity?'"
It's questions like this that should demonstrate how the God of the Bible could not be man-made. People all to often try to equate humanity and its faculties with that of God's. Impossible. God and human are not the same. That's like saying that the clay pot is the same as the potter. Ridiculous.
"'The bible: Since it is known and widely accepted that the Hebrew 'almah' (young woman) was wrongly translated into the Greek 'parthenos' (virgin), effectively invalidating one of christianity's foremost miracles, couldn't the other miracles also be untrue?'
This doesn't present a full understanding of the issue. "Widely accepted" by whom? And it was not "wrongly" translated. When you're going to make claims I suggest you look at both sides of the argument rather than rely solely on your preference. In the time in which Isaiah was written, "almah" could mean virgin just as readily as young woman. In fact, during that time, "young woman" more often than not implied virginity.
You fall prey to your own criticism regarding empirical evidence. You have none, yet whine about "religious" people not having any.