John Miller does an excellent job today of describing the worldview of H.P. Lovecraft, the godfather of the horror story,
Central to Lovecraft’s effectiveness was his personal
philosophy, and this is what separated him from Poe and the others who came
before him. He was a thoroughgoing materialist–a socialist in his politics and
an atheist in his beliefs. "Now all my tales are based on the fundamental
premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or
significance in the vast cosmos-at-large," he wrote upon successfully
resubmitting the original Cthulhu story. "One must forget that such things
as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of
a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at
That’s nihilism, of course, and we’re free to reject it. But
there’s nothing creepier or more terrifying than the possibility that our lives
are exercises in meaninglessness. "As flies to wanton boys are we to the
gods," says Gloucester in King Lear. "They kill us for their
sport." From Lovecraft’s perspective, this gives us far too much credit.
In his grim milieu, we don’t even rate as insect pests, but we still manage to
get ourselves squished.
As terrifying as this worldview is, if true, it is refreshing to find someone who is honest about its implications. If there is no God, then there absolutely is no such thing as love and hate or good and evil. If atheism is true, then nihilism is the only possibility and the horror story genre may be the most accurate assessment of our condition.
Of course, I would submit that we should look at it from the other direction. If good and evil, love and hate actually exist, they are good evidences that atheism is false. If life isn’t one big horror story, we should probably start thinking about why that is.