Apatheism: The Battle of Truth and Complacency

December 1, 2011
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Crazy Mike is just that- crazy. His curious habits and kilt-wearing antics define his social identity, but beyond the apparent lies an intellectual soul, one of patience and respect. Mike proudly dubs himself an apatheist, inspired by the term “apathetic atheist.” Apatheists, however, differ from apathetic atheists in a sense that they often pride themselves on their lack of religious fanaticism, rather than a defined denunciation of God. Mike describes it as “a certain level of not caring.” This outlook on religion admittedly fosters a more cohesive and respectful planet, which, at first glance, appears rather enticing. Upon closer inspection, apatheism is nothing more than a tantalizing trap.
The downfall of atheism is this: in an effort to publically refute religious institutions, they have inadvertently fallen into the same “folly” as their spiritual counterparts. Atheists are practically an evangelical group themselves, turning their pronounced disbelief in God into its own religion. Ridiculing the Christian zealot turns them into zealots for the atheist cause, resulting in one never-ending circle of bickering zealotry. For this reason, atheists cannot be considered apatheists due to their avid insistence of the legitimacy of their cause, where an apatheist would simply seal their lips at the first sign of conflict.
There does exist, however, a Carefree Apatheist, who agrees with the deduction that there is no God, but is willing to hear out the viewpoints of others without any sort of rebuttal. This brand of apatheism is perhaps the most befuddling, seeing that it is so closely related to atheism. It must be observed that although it involves agreement with the atheist perspective, it does not involve catapulting these views in the faces of “wrong-believers.” So, in a sense, a Carefree Apatheist is comparable to an atheist who takes on an attitude of respect and openness.
Next comes the Sunday Christian Apatheist, usually someone who does attends church and labels themself a religious follower. How can a church-goer be an apatheist? By Crazy Mike’s definition, a sizeable portion of America’s church attenders belong unknowingly to apatheism, by the fact that many of them “just don’t care.” Attending a theater production does not make someone an actor, nor does going to church make someone a Christian. Society’s perversion of what it means to be a Christ-follower has spread like an unchecked wildfire across America. The idea of church has become one of entertainment and socializing, rather than worshipping the Spirit of God. The ranks of many congregations have been swapped for apatheists without anyone even realizing it.
Finally there is the Bottled Up Apatheist, someone who maintains a sturdy personal relationship with God, but fails to outwardly express his or her faith. Some would argue that those belonging to this category are not true apatheists, and that they carry out their duties as Christians through their personal relationships with Christ. That is not the case, however, seeing that Jesus commands his disciples in Mathew 28:19 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Personal relationships with God are both necessary and magnificent, but, according to the book of James, “faith without works is dead” and believers are called to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” Lack of fulfillment of this responsibility can only be due to a deficiency of commitment, which, by definition, confirms the presence of apatheism.
I have recently come to realize that maybe an apatheist army is not necessarily a harmful entity to religion. Crazy Mike, a proud Carefree Apatheist, is honestly one of the kindest and most respectful people I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with. He doesn’t parade about on street corners with megaphones or shy away at a gentle inquiry; he discloses his beliefs when asked, and simply leaves it at that. He could care less how many people agree with him, he simply gives everyone the respect that they deserve. I have to say, maybe he is onto something. In a world of hatred and malice, sycophants and holy wars, maybe we need people like Mike.
I often find myself skirting the edges of Bottled Up Apatheism. I repeatedly deviate from the path God has laid out for me and fall short of Christ’s call to “make disciples of all nations.” I am a chronic introvert, which paralyzes me when the opportunity arises to share my faith. Really it all comes down to fear- fear of rejection, fear of mockery, fear of offending someone. Jesus never said it would be easy, but fear is no excuse for inaction. I am an apatheist by choice, an unfortunate choice, but my choice nonetheless.
In spite of apatheism’s aforementioned benefits, it cannot be established that such an idea is constructive to the condition of the world because it involves settling for the notion that there is no importance in truth. The pursuit of truth and perfection is what defines the human spirit; although we know perfection is unattainable, we spend our lives hoping to graze the very edges of grace. The beauty of such spirit and inspiration is what God sees in us when he chooses to extend the arms of mercy to his lowly subjects. The pursuit of truth must live on, not die in complacency. Respect is a virtue, but respect never saved a soul.





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