Appraising Objections to Practical Apatheism
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.
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