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Tyrrell
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From "Meditations" 
By Patriarch John Tyrrell 

We are so Apathetic - and proud of it.

The most common complaint I get about this web site is about the term apathetic. Regularly, I get messages from individuals who think they have had a brilliant flash of insight "How can you call yourself apathetic when you have a two hundred page web site on Apathetic Agnosticism?"

Here is what has been my stock reply. Publishing it here will allow me to simply respond with a link. You have problems with "apathetic."

The point to remember is that apathetic is not intended as a general point of view. It applies only to one thing; as does agnostic.

Our apathy is directed only to the issue of the existence of god; as is our agnosticism.

We don't claim to be agnostic about absolutely everything, nor are we apathetic about everything.

Agnosticism says we don't know if god exists, and apathetic says we don't care whether god exists. The question of god's existence is just not important. Its not worth bothering about.

There is no requirement for an Apathetic Agnostic to be apathetic about everything. Many of our members have very strong feelings about other issues - and they feel strongly about the doctrine of Apathetic Agnosticism.

Besides which the term allows us to laugh at ourselves, something which followers of all religions would be wise to do.

Wordplay

In the last couple of weeks I've received two more messages quibbling in various ways about my use of apathetic in Apathetic Agnostic. It's still something I'm not about to change as it seems to get the message across with most people, even though a vocal majority may object.

Perhaps for those who do complain, apathetic carries too many negative connotations. And there are a lot. For example, Roget gives the following as some of the synonyms; cold, callous, emotionless, passive, unconcerned, unresponsive. Not exactly the image we want to project.

But what are the alternatives? In a certain sense, indifferent says exactly what I want to convey, and we could substitute indifferent for apathetic in the second and third articles of faith and not lose any meaning. But, would we really want to be known as indifferent agnostics? I don't think so, it lacks punch.

There is one near obsolete word that fits the bill; pococurante. As an adjective it means apathetic, and as a noun it means apathetic person; so we could be pococurante agnostics, or agnostic pococurantes, or even pocurante agnostic pococurantes, each of which has a slighly different shade of meaning.

The pedantic element in me objects - and who but a pedant would introduce the word pococurante to an unsuspecting audience. But both agnostic and apathetic come from the Greek, and thus flow together well. Pococurante comes from the Italian. It would go much better with a word with latin roots, nescient, for example. For those who really dislike apathetic agnostic, I do recommend you consider yourself a pococurante nescient. But be forewarned, if you take this term as a label for your religious beliefs, be prepared to spend considerable time explaining just what it all means.

And for those who want to change the name of the entire operation, perhaps the Ubiquitous Congregation Victorious of the Indifferent Disbeliever might be suitable.

 

 

(John Tyrrell is the founder and Patriarch Emeritus of the UCTAA.  He makes his home in Alberta, Canada.)