July 22, 2011

Apathetic Atheism

Bill MaherThe most prominent example of a self-identified "apatheist" (i.e., apathetic atheist) appears to be Bill Maher. He clearly identifies himself as an atheist, and that's certainly nice to see. I'm not completely convinced, however, by his claim of being apathetic on the subject of religion. He spends far more time talking about religion than I would expect for someone who does not care about it at all.

If "apatheist" means an atheist who does not think much about religion, as CNN says, then I'm not sure the term is even worth using. Defined this way, it does not convey much of import.

I've always understood "apatheist" to refer to an atheist who is apathetic to most matters of atheism too. When I hear the term, I think of someone who lacks god belief but views atheist activism, church-state separation, atheist equality, and related issues to be a waste of his or her time and energy. Defined this way, I'd say the term communicates plenty of meaning.

Why I'm No Apatheist

I could never be an apatheist because I care too much about my colleagues in the reality-based community. I cannot just shrug my shoulders and remain indifferent to the bigotry and discrimination atheists face. I cannot ignore efforts by pro-theocracy groups seeking to dismantle the vision of America's founders by undermining separation of church and state. I cannot remain silent when Christian extremists attack women, education, science, and reality itself.

I can be apathetic about a great many things, but atheism and religion are not among them.

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