Heroical Apatheism: Mala Fide Bootstrapping Obligations

Ian von Hegner


Discussions on hypothetical gods virtually always focus on the latter’s existence or nonexistence. However, this is only the secondary question. Heroical apatheism distinguishes these questions from the primary question, which pertains to the importance of these gods. It is a deeply ingrained assumption that if the gods have created the universe and humankind, then this implicitly entails the obligations that these gods must be worshipped and obeyed. These relations between existence and acts and worship and obedience to the gods are so commonplace that virtually no one questions their existence. The rights of these gods are simply assumed at face value. However, the issues pertaining to these necessary relations are not trivial in any respect. This paper highlights these relations by first formulating two cosmological models for the initial condition of the universe and, thereafter, applying these in the analyses of the claims regarding these relations. By doing so, it shows that the justifications for the aforementioned obligations always result in a Münchhausen bootstrapping circularity or are ad hoc. Any necessary relations between existence and worship and between acts of creation and obedience cannot be demonstrated. Furthermore, these assumptions are based on the frequently overlooked reasoning that arguing for or against the obligations to the gods implicitly assumes that these gods have a right to such obligations to begin with. However, all that can be shown is the power to enforce obedience. Thus, heroical apatheism is founded on neither doubt nor disobedience because disobedience implies that an authority exists and an authority’s right presupposes that there is such a right. However, there is no such right, and we do not equate might with right.

Keywords: gods, obligations, cosmology, astrobiology.

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