Lovecraft: An Atheist Horror Story in Contrast to Islam
HP Lovecraft (1890-1937) is generally considered the most influential writer of modern horror fiction.
Those who continued this genre after him, like Stephen King, confess to being indebted to his books.
Lovecraft’s influence also extends beyond this genre alone. Michel Houellebecq (France’s most widely read contemporary novelist), although he has not written any horror novels himself, still considers himself a pupil of Lovecraft. He even went so far as to write an entire essay about him in 1991.
In fact, Lovecraft is a prominent figure in the industry due to the creation of his own “Lovecraftian universe”, generally described as “cosmic horror”. This refers to the fact that in his writings, the human loses his place at the center of the universe and is even accused of flight the space of creatures from another world.
This “metaphysical” horror is precisely what emerges from Lovecraft, setting him apart from his later disciples who succeeded him like the aforementioned Stephen King, whose works revolve around more “earthly” issues (the typical anxious, schizoid existence of atomized individuals living in American suburbs, often teenagers).
But what is particularly relevant to us is that Lovecraft’s metaphysical (or ontological) relegation of humanity, that is, his “anti-humanism,” stems from his radical atheist dogma.
The Indian-American literary critic, ST Joshi, is considered the world authority on Lovecraft. In 2010 he edited a collection of essays and letters by Lovecraft under the title Against Religion: The Atheist Writings of HP Lovecraft.
Given the title, it’s no surprise to find that the foreword was written by none other than Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), the late British-American journalist known as the most outspoken of the ‘new atheists‘. . And of course these “new atheists” are a particularly vocal and militant group of atheists, post-9/11.
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Hitchens writes the following, at pp. vii-viii:
It is a pleasure to read – and to recommend – the work of HP Lovecraft […] This extraordinary author has decided to confront squarely the problems that all thoughtful people face. What is the probability that human life is the result of design? […] It is safe enough to say that he first discovered his objection to theism when he contemplated his favorite subject, which was the cosmic. It takes a certain amount of arrogance for man, once he discovers the real place of our global grain in this galaxy, let alone the rhythm of this galaxy in the universe, to assume that everything is destined for itself. as a finished object.
An atheist criticizing the design argument is hardly surprising. Atheists weaponize Darwinian evolution, and Darwin first caused controversy when he refuted Christian philosopher William Paley’s famous watchmaker analogy (imagine you are walking and notice a watch in the sand; certainly such complex machines could not have arisen on their own; one would ultimately assume that there was a watchmaker; and so, in the same way, one understands that creation also has an intelligent creator).
Darwin, who read Paley as a theology student, rejected the idea of intelligent design via its mechanism of natural selection.
It should be noted that contemporary scientists return to the intelligent design argument. The Brazilian chemist Marcos Nogueira Eberlin in his book Foresight (an easy read that I recommend) for example. However, natural selection is not the subject of this article.
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What’s perplexing is how both Lovecraft and Hitchens go beyond the usual censors of the clever design argument. After all, if there is no purpose for nature, why should there be any purpose for humanity?
Isn’t humanity also “imperfect” and therefore “evolutionary”? Perhaps by transhumanism?
And so the anti-humanism of these radical atheists becomes evident. In a materialistic and evolutionary worldview, humanity is something that to have to be modified, either by social engineering and mass atheistic propaganda (Hitchens) or by scientific and technological modification (transhumanists).
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Besides Hitchens’ foreword in the book mentioned above, we of course also have the writings of Lovecraft himself.
A particularly terrifying piece is the chapter titled The insignificance of manoriginally a letter (dated 1916).
We read on pages 11-12:
But after all, what is life and its purpose? By what right has man arbitrarily assumed his own importance in creation? […] Therefore, we can understand that the human race is only a thing of the moment […] Our human race is but an insignificant incident in the story of creation […] Who can say that men have a soul while the rocks do not? Maybe the best thing a man can do is annihilate himself! […] It is our right and our duty to mold the minor manifestations of human character in such a way that the whole race may derive as little pain and misery as possible from the pitiful satire called “of life” […]
The rest of the book is similar. He denigrates religion while praising atheism and materialism. What a wretched, wretched view of existence. He basically sees humanity as a cosmic accident with no hope for a truly useful life – and in fact even unworthy of life. (According to Lovecraft, the real owners of the world are monstrous cosmic entities such as Cthulhu).
But Lovecraft is just being consistent. After all, such is life from a purely atheistic and materialistic point of view.
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It is fascinating how Muslims use the same observations, but their conclusion is the exact opposite. For us, there is this immense and expansive universe which, rather than oppressing us, only attracts us to the worship of our Creator.
For example, we read in the Quran, 41:53:
We will show them Our signs in the universe and in themselves until it becomes clear to them that this ˹Quran˺ is the truth. Is it not enough that your Lord is a witness of all things?
Whether it is the vast and expansive galaxies or the restricted and limited life of our souls, everything is a sign for us. They make us stronger. Whereas, on the other hand, they make the atheist, with his materialism, weaker.
The reality is that Lovecraft is the most representative modern horror author because modernity itself is nothing but a horror spectacle.