When I was a kid, some of my favorite books to read were the Scary Stories series. The cover designs were captivating. Some truly amazing artwork. The fact that the company who produces those books redid the covers because some soccer moms said it’s too scary for their pussy kids pisses me off. But here’s the thing about those books – despite their scary imagery, one of the things about each of the stories was that it usually wasn’t that scary. It was just something that wasn’t understood. And very few of the stories had endings truly as dark as the visuals you had in your mind. They had happy endings but with the surreal nature being something for the reader to contemplate. Or to show that sometimes what you fear is just what you don’t understand.
For little kids, that’s actually a really good lesson. Kids need to know that not everything they’re afraid of is bad. Sometimes it’s just something they don’t know. The sense of fear compels kids to know what happens. They’re short stories where the author has to build suspense quickly, and the best way to do it is with fear of the unknown.
When I got a little older, I got into Stephen King. But as interesting as some of his books were, I didn’t get into many of them. It always built to a point when the source of the fear is explained, and that bored me. That and that guy has a real problem knowing when to end a book. Too often he just sucks the premise dry to the point that you don’t even care anymore and just want it to be done. King has admitted several times that he has written himself into a corner more than once.
Then I happened across a little book by an author I had heard of, but never really read – H.P Lovecraft. The book was called “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” It told the story of a narrator who ends up in a small European fishing town, and learns about the secret cult that governs this community. As he delves further and further into it, he learns a horrifying truth – that the beings that this cult worships are real. The Deep Ones (or Old Ones, depending) are massive, unknowable, supreme being, ancient in a way that we cannot understand. The people of this community are trying to cross-breed with them in order to rise to a higher plane of being. The deeper the narrator gets into this nightmare, the more he is driven to madness because the truth nature of these beings is beyond his comprehension. It’s beyond anyone’s. You as a reader are having to realize that you are stuck with this guy, and you can’t tell if his narration is on the level the further it goes.
All of my life, I had questioned religion. I mean, a story about a wizard in the sky who creates a guy from dirt and then makes a woman from his rib, who gets all pissed because said woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat fruit from a magic tree? Who wouldn’t be a little bit skeptical of that? Over 1 billion people in this world, apparently. Will never get that. But this book helped solidify what I found the entire concept of a supreme being fucking terrifying.
The Deep Ones are ancient, all-powerful, unknowable, and probably evil, if their motives made sense to us. But they don’t. Those who get too close are driven to madness. Another thing about this is that they see us as less than insignificant. We mean nothing to them. That’s because we are nothing to them. We are ants on this planet, whose petty efforts mean nothing. As we live and die, they go on. Generation after generation will perish, but they will remain. The existence of humanity is just something that happens, and being this ancient, who have seen all the life of this world come and go, is just a small diversion that has no meaning at all.
And in my eyes, that’s what a true God would be. Why would it care about us? What would we mean to it? The Abrahamic faiths wants to believe that this being created us and cares for us. That makes no sense. For starters, let’s just get rid of one of the arguments right off the bat. This universe was not made for us. We have scientific proof that this universe is billions of years old. Humanity is just a species that came about after a planet that has existed for billions of years. All the young-Earth creationists are blithering idiots who have not a single piece of scientific evidence to bolster their claims. Everything we know about the universe tells us that it is billions of years old.
So why would a supreme being, who has seen countless species that we can’t imagine rise and fall on this lonely speck of dust in this one galaxy, give any amount of a shit about us? It wouldn’t. Objectively, there is NO reason why it would. It’s ridiculous. If you existed outside of time and space, seeing countless creatures and even countless sentient civilizations come and go, why would you care about this one? Here’s a fact – it is a mathematic impossibility that this planet is the only one with life.
When I see people who say that they have a hotline to God and that they understand his will, I see two types of people. The first are shysters like Ray Comfort and Joel Osteen. They are just as much of an atheist as I am, only concerned about the money. The second are the lunatics who are using religion to bolster their madness. Only difference is that their supreme being is nowhere to be seen. Can you only imagine what kind of madness this world would devolve into if a cult like the one in “Shadow Over Innsmouth” was real and was known to the rest of the world? It horrifies me.
That books shaped a lot of my beliefs about the world. Lovecraft had a firm belief that what you couldn’t see or understand was where fear comes from. When I hear people say they fear God, it strikes me that they choose to believe because they are afraid of displeasing this entity that can destroy them.
As for me, I choose to believe there is nothing. Because if one day the clouds are ever pulled back and this deity actually reveals itself, that’s when the real nightmare begins. Just read how that books ends.
Until next time, a quote,
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is of the unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft