Appraising Objections to Practical Apatheism

Philosophia 45 (1):257-276 (2017)
Trevor Hedberg
University of South Florida
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.
Keywords Apatheism  Practical Apatheism  Existence of God  Ethics  Miracles  Meaning of Life  Afterlife
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1007/s11406-016-9759-y
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