There’s a new group of people Christians and apologists aren’t talking about: apatheists.
Apatheist (apathy + theist): A person apathetic about god(s).
The campus apologetics group I’m a part of participated in freshman orientation. We had a table on a sidewalk beside a large green space and the new freshmen could walk around and talk with the various organizations. We struck conversation with the freshman by asking their religious background. (Side note, while many find the question a bit unusual, no one has found the question offensive. So, ask your friends and neighbors!)
We got the usual bunch: Christian, Catholic, Hindi, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, etc. But we also had several who said they have thought about the question of God’s existence and they don’t care. And they use those exact words: “I don’t really care.”
As one who interacts daily with philosophical and theological issues relating to God and Christianity, I can’t fathom not caring about this. For someone to state this and truly mean it brings me to ask: why do I care?
I’m fairly informed on most of the main areas of debate in apologetics. God’s existence, theodicy, the Resurrection, inspiration of the Bible, age of the Earth, soteriology, etc. I have yet to come across a concise argument for caring about God, his character, and the moral duties we have towards him.
Even if an argument can be presented, we must jump from the academic quest of finding a sound reason for caring to the real world of caring daily. It’s one thing to say you care about something, it’s another to shape your life around such a conviction.
We also need to be mindful a full explanation of why we care may not be possible in a single conversation, even if such a conversation is long and detailed. Yet, to talk to a stranger who doesn’t care, you need to capture their attention (make them care) in less than ten seconds. It’s a tall order—one I’m not sure is possible.
This is why it is so important for Christians to reach out to their friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Not “reach out” as in the usual “share the Gospel” meaning—most people have such a twisted view of Christianity they will derisively dismiss traditional quick presentations of the Gospel. We have to forge friendships with unbelievers so we can have enough time with them to show how much we care about our belief in Christ. This is especially true for reaching Millennials who are much more focused on relationships than previous generations.
We can’t stay in our Christian huddles and expect the world to come to us. The world doesn’t care about God or Jesus or heaven or hell. They don’t care. We need to show them why we care and why it matters to us. This takes time and effort. It takes constant vigilance to ensure our lives actually reflect Christ and what we believe about him. It will require being available to talk about your belief at a moment’s notice and being able to respond to the typical criticisms with contextualized explanations of why our worldview makes sense.