Appraising Objections to Practical Apatheism
- 323 Downloads
This paper addresses the plausibility of practical apatheism: an attitude of apathy or indifference about philosophical questions pertaining to God’s existence grounded in the belief that they lack practical significance. Since apatheism is rarely discussed, we begin by clarifying the position and explaining how it differs from some of the other positions one may take with regard to the existence of God. Afterward, we examine six distinct objections to practical apatheism. Each of these objections posits a different reason for thinking that belief in God is practically significant. Five of these objections prove unsuccessful. The sixth, which appeals to the practical significance of belief in God with respect to our fates in the afterlife, is more promising but nonetheless encounters significant obstacles. Since the success of this objection is controversial, whether we have good grounds to reject practical apatheism should be similarly controversial, and the view should be given further examination.
KeywordsApatheism Practical apatheism Existence of god Ethics Miracles Meaning of life Afterlife
We thank audiences at East Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and Western Washington University for providing valuable feedback on material that was incorporated into this manuscript. We extend special thanks to E. J. Coffman, Garret Merriam, Robert McKim, Brian Ribeiro, Scott Aikin, Don Hatcher, Jonathan Kvanvig, and Ira DeSpain for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. Finally, we thank the many anonymous reviewers whose feedback helped us to clarify and refine our arguments.
- Adams, R. (1987). The virtue of faith and other essays in philosophical theology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Aquinas, T. (1920). Prima secundae partis. Summa theologica (trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province) (2nd and revised ed.). London: Burns Oates and Washbourne. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/. Accessed 15 February 2012.
- Aristotle. (1962). Nicomachean ethics (trans. M. Ostwald). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Budimir, M. (2008). Apatheism: The new face of religion? Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy, 45, 87–93.Google Scholar
- Craig, W. L. (2008). Reasonable faith: Christian truth and apologetics (3rd ed.). Wheaton: Crossway Books.Google Scholar
- Fischer, J. M. (2009). Why immortality is not so bad. In Our stories: Essays on life, death, and free will (pp. 79–92). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hasker, W. (2004a). Can God permit “just enough” evil? In Providence, evil, and the openness of God (pp. 81–94). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hasker, W. (2004b). Providence, evil and the openness of god. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hick, J. (1992). The universality of the golden rule. In J. Runzo (Ed.), Ethics, religion, and the good society: New directions in a pluralistic world (pp. 155–166). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.Google Scholar
- Howard-Snyder, D., & Howard-Snyder, F. (1999). Is theism compatible with gratuitous evil? American Philosophical Quarterly, 36(2), 115–129.Google Scholar
- Hume, D. (1993). An enquiry concerning human understanding (ed. E. Steinberg) (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
- Kavka, G. (2007). A reconciliation project. In L. Pojman (Ed.), Ethical theory: Classical and contemporary readings (pp. 101–113). Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
- Kraay, K. J. (n.d.). William Hasker on gratuitous evil. http://www.philosophy.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/William-Hasker-on-Gratuitous-Evil.pdf. Accessed 2 August 2016.
- Moore, G. E. (1903). Principia ethica. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Moore, J. T., & Leach, M. M. (2015). Dogmatism and mental health: A comparison of the religious and secular. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Advance online publication.Google Scholar
- Nagel, T. (1979). Mortal questions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Nielsen, K. (1964). Ethics without god. Ohio University Review, 6, 48–62.Google Scholar
- O’Connor, D. (1998). God and inscrutable evil: In defense of theism and atheism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Partridge, E. (1981). Why care about the future? In E. Partridge (Ed.), Responsibilities to future generations (pp. 203–220). Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
- Pascal, B. (2008). Pensées and other writings (trans. H. Levi; ed. A. Levi). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Perry, J. (1978). A dialogue on personal identity and immortality. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.Google Scholar
- Pojman, L. (2007). A critique of ethical relativism. In L. Pojman (Ed.), Ethical theory: Classical and contemporary readings (pp. 38–51). Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
- Rauch, J. (2003). Let it be. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/05/let-it-be/302726/. Accessed 22 October 2013.
- Rawls, J. (1993). Political liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Ruse, M. (2007). Evolution and ethics: The sociobiological approach. In L. Pojman (Ed.), Ethical theory: Classical and contemporary readings (pp. 618–633). Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
- Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2009). Morality without god. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Steger, M. F. (2009). Meaning in life. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed., pp. 679–687). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Swinburne, R. (1968). Miracles. Philological Quarterly, 18, 320–328.Google Scholar
- Zuckerman, P. (2010). Society without God: What the least religious nations can tell us about contentment. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar