Apatheism (a portmanteau of apathy and theism/atheism), also known as pragmatic or critically as practical atheism, is acting with apathy, disregard, or lack of interest towards belief, or lack of belief in a deity. Apatheism describes the manner of acting towards a belief or lack of a belief in a deity; so applies to both theism and atheism. An apatheist is also someone who is not interested in accepting or denying any claims that gods exist or do not exist. In other words, an apatheist is someone who considers the question of the existence of gods as neither meaningful nor relevant to his or her life.
Apathetic agnosticism (also called pragmatic agnosticism) is the view that thousands of years of debate has neither proven, nor dis-proven, the existence of one or more deities (gods). This view concludes that even if one or more deities exist, they do not appear to be concerned about the fate of humans. Therefore, their existence has little impact on personal human affairs and should be of little theological interest.
"Apatheism" can take various forms:
- Absence of religious motivation—belief in gods do not motivate moral action, religious action, or any other form of action;
- Active exclusion of the issue of gods and religion from intellectual pursuit and practical action; or
- Indifference—the absence of any interest in the problems of gods and religion;
- Not In My Power -- if god/s want people to believe in them, they need only to demonstrate their existence. There is nothing humans can do to prove the existence of a god, and gods are the only force that can prove their existence, therefore the choice of human faith lies not on the shoulders of humans, but god;
Historically, practical atheism was considered by some people to be associated with moral failure, willful ignorance and impiety. Those considered practical atheists were said to behave as though God, ethics and social responsibility did not exist; they abandoned duty and embraced hedonism. According to the French Catholic philosopher Étienne Borne, "Practical atheism is not the denial of the existence of God, but complete godlessness of action; it is a moral evil, implying not the denial of the absolute validity of the moral law but simply rebellion against that law."
Arguments of Different Forms of Apatheism
Absence of Religious Motivation
Morals are present in human society and do not rely on religion to be a part of the human experience. The existence, or non-existence of a god has no effect on the actions of humans and may actually cause more human suffering than benefit. Apatheists recognize that religion may provide a "comfort" for many people around the world, however Apatheists do not need religion to be content with the morality of their lives and therefore live without it, thus "Moral Apatheism."
Religion has been the root cause of wars and cultural disputes for thousands of years, and therefore "religion" is still a very relevant issue within societies. However, since the existence of god can never be proved, or disproved, society, culture and science can and should progress without religion playing a role in intellectual pursuit and practical action. Including religion in dialogues and actions can result in un-optimal outcomes due to the inherent fractionalization between cultures that most religions cause.
Also known as the "I'll eat another cookie" philosophy, an "Indifferent Apatheists" would say : "Since the existence of god can never be proven, nor can it be disproven, I won't waste my time asking questions to which there are no answers, and just eat another cookie."
Not In My Power
Many religions first became popular because of "miracles" or "acts of god". In the Bible, Jesus and his Apostles were granted powers from god in order to convince followers of his existence. They healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, ate the full from the loaves of bread, walked on water, and rose from the dead. Without these acts of god, it is doubtful that anyone would have believed in Christianity. If god wanted people to believe in him (or they/she), he should demonstrate his existence and explain to humans what he wants us to do. Since he is all powerful, if he truly wanted humans to believe he could send a divine sign, however since he does not seem to care if humans believe or not, these Apatheists will not care until he shows them a reason to.
Apatheism is often seen as "weak Atheism" by atheists since they do not outrightly claim that a god does not exist and therefore straddle both sides of the fence. Meanwhile, religious believers often argue that the entire point of religion is the belief in something you cannot prove, and therefore Apatheists are people who have not truly found religion, and therefore are unable to fully disassociate themselves from a belief in god.
The eighteenth century French philosopher Denis Diderot, when accused of being an atheist, replied that he simply did not care whether God existed or not. In response to Voltaire, he wrote:
|“||It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley; but not at all so to believe or not in God.||”|
The author Jonathan Rauch described apatheism as "a disinclination to care all that much about one's own religion and even a stronger disinclination to care about other people's".
- Cosmicism (see "cosmic indifference")
- God in Buddhism
- Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance: Apatheism: "Does God exist? I don't know & I don't really care"
- Borne, Étienne (1961). Atheism. New York: Hawthorn Books. ISBN 0-415-04727-7.
- Herrick, Jim (1985). Against the Faith. London: Glover & Blair. pp. 75. ISBN 0-906681-09-X.
- Rauch, Jonathan, Let It Be: Three Cheers for Apatheism, The Atlantic Monthly, May 2003
- Apatheism, Allognosticism, and the American Religious Landscape.
- The Church of Apatheism, a web page first published in August 2000 which also uses the terms “apatheism” and “apatheist”
- Apatheism defined on Atheism.about.com
- "Let It Be: Three Cheers for Apatheism" by Jonathan Rauch Atlantic May 2003
- ABC New Radio:wordwatch, Apatheism
- Apathetic Agnostics