Apatheism was a term coined by the late philosopher Robert Nash. It’s meant to describe the indifference or apathy some people have toward the question of whether God or gods exist. To be an apatheist is to be spiritually indifferent about the subject matter of God altogether. So much so, that adherents are uninterested in broaching a conversation regarding God’s existence. For them, it’s a moot point. Not worth entertaining. It’s as if there’s nothing to be gained since you can’t prove God’s existence in such a way as to make an ultimate difference. So, the apatheist reasons, “Why bother?”
Apathy and ET
An apatheist stance is equivalent to people uninterested in talking about whether extra-terrestrial life exists on other planets. Why concern yourself? We can’t know. It’s a fool’s errand. Not surprisingly then, you won’t find the apatheist pondering the divine in search of life’s meaning. No, this is a closed mindset, limited by the observable world for matters of meaning. As a result, apatheists are left looking inward to make the most of life and to make moral sense of the choices confronting them.
Is It an Attitude or a Belief?
Ironically, adherents to this ideology like to think their outlook is more of an attitude than a belief. But herein lies the problem. As much as apatheists may want to evade belief-status by calling it an attitude, that’s not so easy. While hesitant to call it a belief, apatheism is a belief, in that apatheists (1) believe God isn’t worth the search. Apatheism is (2) the belief that God can’t or doesn’t make a difference in their life. It is (3) the belief that God has no say on moral matters. And beliefs such as these cause apatheists to have the attitude they do about all things divine.
That said, the next time you find yourself in a conversation with an apatheist who readily flaunts his commitment to apatheism, don’t let him fool you into thinking he is bereft of belief. While it may be a convenient smokescreen for adherents to circumvent conversations about God, it is also a contradictory attitude which can render them stuck in deception. Apatheists don’t just have an attitude that the topic of God doesn’t matter, they believe the topic of God doesn’t matter, which in turn forms their apathy.
Belief Shapes Attitude
The apatheist isn’t alone. Beliefs shape all our attitudes, be it the agnostic, atheist, pantheist, theist, or apatheist. You can’t have a set of beliefs, which in turn form your attitude, and then lop off the beliefs that determined your attitude by simply claiming, “Only my attitude remains.” Talk about self-deception. Don’t let the apatheist fool you. Instead, point out the futility of trying to separate one’s beliefs from one’s attitude.
Having clarified that, hopefully you can enter the real discussion over which of the various beliefs under consideration are true. That’s not a matter of indifference. It’s a belief which can make all the difference. But to do so, the apatheist needs a change of attitude about his attitude. That his attitude about God has been shaped by his beliefs. With one crack at life, apathy toward our Creator is an unwise move.
Plugging one’s ears doesn’t erase the noise.
It just makes the person dull to it.
Ephphatha, “Be opened!”
 Robert J. Nash, Religious Pluralism in the Academy: Opening The Dialogue (New York: P. Lang, 2001), 27.
Other Recommended Resources On This Topic
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Paperback), and (Sermon) by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek
Debate: What Best Explains Reality: Atheism or Theism? by Frank Turek DVD, Mp4, and Mp3
If God, Why Evil? (DVD Set), (MP3 Set), and (mp4 Download Set) by Frank Turek
Why Doesn’t God Intervene More? (DVD Set), (MP3 Set), and (mp4 Download Set) by Frank Turek
How Can Jesus Be the Only Way? (mp4 Download) by Frank Turek
Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible by J. Warner Wallace (Paperback), (Investigator’s Guide).
Bobby serves as lead pastor of Image Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is well known for his YouTube ministry called, One Minute Apologist, which now goes by the name Christianity Still Makes Sense. He also serves as the Co-Host of Pastors’ Perspective, a nationally syndicated call-in radio show on KWVE in Southern California. Bobby earned his Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, his Doctor of Ministry in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from the University of Birmingham (England) where he was supervised under David Cheetham and Yujin Nagasawa. Bobby’s also written several books including: The Fifth Gospel, Doubting Toward Faith, Does God Exist, and Fifty-One other Questions About God and the Bible and the forthcoming Christianity Still Makes Sense to be published by Tyndale in April 2024. He’s married to his lovely wife Heather and together they have two grown kids: Haley and Dawson.