Apatheism (/ˌæpəˈθɪzəm/; a portmanteau of apathy and theism) is the attitude of apathy toward the existence or non-existence of God(s). It is more of an attitude rather than a belief, claim, or belief system.[1][2][3] The term was coined by Canadian sociologist Stuart Johnson.[4]

An apatheist is someone who is not interested in accepting or rejecting any claims that gods do exist or do not exist. The existence of a god or gods is not rejected, but may be designated irrelevant. One of the first recorded apatheists was arguably Denis Diderot (1713–1784), who wrote: "It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley; but not at all so to believe or not in God."

Philosopher Trevor Hedberg has called apatheism "uncharted territory in the philosophy of religion".[1] Political theorist and constitutional law scholar, Adam Scott Kunz, has further defined apatheism as "the philosophical attitude of indifference, both public and private, to (1) the question of the existence of a deity, (2) the metaphysical and practical value of loyalty to that deity, and/or (3) the interaction of that deity with the natural world".[3]



There is a common misconception that journalist Jonathon Rauch coined the word apatheism in his 2003 essay "Let It Be" (though Roach in the essay does not claim to invent the word).[5] Apatheism was first coined by Canadian sociologist Stuart Johnson in his study of indifference to religion amid secularization published in 1972.[4]



Apatheism considers the question of the existence or nonexistence of deities to be fundamentally irrelevant in every way that matters. This position should not be understood as a skeptical position in a manner similar to that of, for example, atheists or agnostics who question the existence of deities or whether we can know anything about them.[6]

Adam Scott Kunz has argued that apatheism's opposite is zeal, just as atheism's opposite is theism. Instead of viewing apatheism as a different form of belief, Kunz argues that apatheism and zeal can interact with atheism and theism on a two-dimensional spectrum similar to a political spectrum. A person can be a theist, while at the same time have an attitude of apatheism (such beliefs are common in deism) or zeal toward questions of existence, loyalty, or involvement of deity. Likewise, an atheist can be either apatheistic or zealous.[3]





Apatheists may feel that even if there are gods/deities and the existence and legitimacy of them were proven, it would not make a difference to them for one reason or another; therefore, which one(s), if any, are real does not matter and any discussion about it is meaningless. This approach is similar to that of practical atheism.

Lack of interest


An apatheist may not have any interest in the god debate simply for lack of interest in the topic.



This apatheistic argument states that morals do not come from god and that if a god exists, there would be no changes with regards to morality; therefore, a god's existence or non-existence is irrelevant.


Apathetic agnosticism


A view related to apatheism, apathetic agnosticism claims that no amount of debate can prove or disprove the existence of one or more deities, and if one or more deities exist, they do not appear to be concerned about the fate of humans; therefore, their existence has little to no impact on personal human affairs. This view has also been called Pragmatic Agnosticism.[7][8]

Practical atheism


The view that one should live their life with disregard towards a god or gods. Practical atheism does not see the god questions as irrelevant, in contrast to apatheism.[9][10] Thus, "practical atheism is disregard for the answers to [God questions], not a disregard for [God questions] per se. Unlike atheism proper, the practical atheist acts as if God does not exist and has no authority over his life despite his belief in God. Hence, practical atheism is not actual atheism."[11]

See also



  1. ^ a b Sean Phillips (November 7, 2013). "Apatheism: Should we care whether God exists?". nooga.com. Archived from the original on August 5, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  2. ^ Austin Cline (July 16, 2017). "What Is an Apatheist?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Kunz, Adam Scott (2021-05-08). "Apatheism: A Primer". Medium. Retrieved 2021-05-10.
  4. ^ a b Beshears (2019, p. 520).
  5. ^ Beshears (2019, pp. 520, 520n8).
  6. ^ Jonathan Rauch (May 2003). "Let it Be". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  7. ^ John Tyrrell (1996). "Commentary on the Articles of Faith". Archived from the original on 2007-08-07. To believe in the existence of a god is an act of faith. To believe in the nonexistence of a god is likewise an act of faith. There is no verifiable evidence that there is a Supreme Being nor is there verifiable evidence there is not a Supreme Being. Faith is not knowledge. We can only state with assurance that we do not know.
  8. ^ Austin Cline (March 8, 2017). "Agnosticism for Beginners - Basic Facts About Agnosticism and Agnostics". ThoughtCo. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  9. ^ Zdybicka, Zofia J. (2005). "Atheism" (PDF). In Maryniarczyk, Andrzej (ed.). Universal Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Vol. 1. Polish Thomas Aquinas Association. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  10. ^ Austin Cline (July 2, 2017). "Definition of Practical Atheist". ThoughtCo. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  11. ^ Beshears (2019, p. 521).