I don't actually get this myself, because, to me anyway, it's a very easy perspective to grasp.
And, for reasons that I'll explain later, I suspect most people who claim to be atheists are really agnostic anyway.
But I'll get on with it.
My parents brought me up to believe that someone's thoughts on religion or the like were their own business. In other words, you never ask and you certainly don't proselytise.
To this day, I have not the faintest idea whether my parents are even remotely religious - they never made us go to Sunday school, they never went to church. I don't ask, because this little voice in the back of my head reminds me that, "It's none of your business."
My mother's parents never rammed religion down her throat. My father's dad was a Methodist minister who insisted on saying grace before all meals and who never touched a drop of alcohol in his life.
I secretly think my mum is an atheist and my dad is agnostic. But this is me just speculating based on various things they've said over the years. I could be 100% wrong.
Anyway. As a result of all of this, I grew up apatheistic.
Apatheism is another concept that is completely misunderstood by atheists and theists. Wikipedia, for example, considers apatheism to be a subset of atheism. And that is clearly wrong.
Now, apatheism, as I understand it, is where you don't even consider the god(s) question, for one or more of the following reasons:
- You don't consider the question to be relevant or important; and/or
- You don't even know that such a question exists.
Belief or disbelief doesn't even come into it when the question either is refused to be considered, or doesn't even make it to the interviewee in the first place.
Now this can completely bamboozle your average person. Mainly because most people are prompted at some stage to consider the god(s) question. I was.
But I never directly answered it, as I never believed it to be a question that added value to my life.
Sorry, I never perceived it to add any value. I’ll discuss the “belief” word later.
So I became a happy little apatheist doing my own thing and not really giving a stuff about God, religion, or anything like that.
Oh sure, I was approached by many people along the way to convert me. One of my friends from high school joined a megachurch in the Upper North Shore area of Sydney and managed to get me along to a few shows (services? They always seemed too showy for this word). I went a couple of times out of curiosity, and tried unsuccessfully to pick up one of the girls there.
But after these little fact finding missions – I was the guy with his mouth wide open in the back row as the “congregation” (not sure what you call the parishioners in a megachurch. Not sure if “parishioners” is correct, either) went into the undignified hysteria that is glossolalia – I came out of there with the impression that (a) these guys were nuts and (b) they had no decorum.
So I started at university in Melbourne and continued on as a happy little apatheist.
While I had no ostensible interest in religion, I did have my own thoughts. The overriding ones were that evangelical/charismatic/pentacostal (I’ll call it ECP from now on) Christianity was extremely funny, and traditionalist Christianity was incredibly tedious.
And I continued like that until one day, in about second or third year uni when things changed and I became an agnostic.
And I’ll tell you about that next time.