My paper proposal offering a modest and qualified defense of apatheism has been accepted for the Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting this November at the annual AAR/SBL conference in Denver. Here’s the precis:
In the Back Pew: A Defense of Christian Apatheism
Apatheism can be defined as a lack of interest in so-called existence questions, i.e. questions which pertain to fundamental existential topics such as whether God exists and, if so, what God expects of human beings. Typically, apatheism is associated with religious skepticism. But in this paper I argue that apatheism, as defined, is also surprisingly common within Christian community. Moreover, I will argue that given certain conditions, Christian apatheism is a rationally and morally defensible position. To that end, I will make three points. First, there is no intrinsic virtue in interest in existence questions since such interest may simply be borne by a personal preference for the topics and an interest in intellectual debate. Second, the central concern of Christian discipleship is conformity to Christ, and one can exhibit conformity to Christ in terms of affections and ethical actions whilst lacking interest in the treatment of existence questions. Finally, it is possible that one might view interest in existence questions as a necessity for the community of faith on the whole without the need that such interest be expressed by every member of that community.