by David Glass
Apathy is a common attitude towards belief in God. In fact, there’s even a term for it: apatheism. Some apatheists are also atheists, others are agnostics, but some don’t have any view on whether or not there is a God. What they share in common is that they don’t care as they think God is irrelevant to their lives. Perhaps surprisingly, many theists are also apatheists. Such people believe there is a God alright, but like other apatheists they don’t care. Apatheists are atheists in practice, but not necessarily in belief.
Why would anyone be an apatheist? At one level it’s a bit difficult to understand. After all, if there is a God, wouldn’t that have enormous significance for our lives? (More on that in a moment.) But at another level perhaps it’s not so hard to understand. Some people have had bad experiences of religion and want nothing to do with any kind of religious belief. Others look at terrible things done by religious people and again want nothing to do with it. Still others think about what religious commitment might involve – church, prayer, etc. – and decide it’s definitely not for them. And, of course, many people are just too caught up with other things – career, money, hobbies, etc. – to have any interest. Those of us who believe in God should be able to understand this since we too at times might come closer to being apatheists than we’d like to admit.
Still, while we can understand people’s apathy towards religion, there are very good reasons for thinking that God’s existence is extremely relevant to our lives. First of all, if there is no God, there would be no objective meaning or purpose to our lives especially if human life is understood to be the accidental by-product of an unguided process. Of course, we could make up our own purpose in life, but there would be no objective purpose; there wouldn’t be any reason for our existence…