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. For similar reasons, it’s extremely difficult to see how there could be any basis for objective moral values if ultimately everything is to be understood in physical terms as most atheists believe. And, finally, there are no grounds for hope since each of us individually and humanity as a whole will die. It’s not surprising that many atheist writers such as Nietzsche, Camus and Sartre reached the conclusion that atheism leads to nihilism, the view that life is meaningless and nothing is really of value.
Contrast that with a Christian viewpoint. Everything is not ultimately physical. Instead, the physical universe has been created by a personal being, God, who is the source of everything we value including goodness, love, beauty, justice, joy, truth, etc. Furthermore, far from being accidents in an uncaring universe, human beings have been created in the image of God and God wants us to be like him. There is also a purpose for our lives because God has created us to know and love him. Apatheists mightn’t be impressed with this point, but undoubtedly apatheists value goodness, love, beauty and justice and yet according to Christianity we are given the opportunity to know the creator who is the source of all these things. Indeed, God wants us to share in his life and he has made this possible by demonstrating his love for us through the death of his Son and offering us forgiveness for all the wrong we have done. If Christianity is true, there is hope for the future and everything we do in this life has eternal significance.
Of course, someone might claim that Christianity is false, but we’ve had plenty to say about that on this site and that’s not the issue here in any case. The issue is: if Christianity is true, how could anyone think that it has no relevance for their lives? As we saw earlier, if you focus on religious practices, that might be understandable, but if you consider what Christianity is all about it’s impossible to think that it is irrelevant to your life. Still, apatheism might be completely unfounded, but that doesn’t stop us from being apathetic. The challenge for us, now that we know that apatheism is unfounded, is to do something about it.