If you don’t believe in God, how can you write horror?
I suppose this is two questions, rolled into one, but I’ll take a shot at responding honestly.
Q1: Do I believe in God?
I’m not convinced that there is a God. Aside from the faith of many religious followers, there is no concrete proof to suggest the existence of a personified creator. Of course, I don’t always need proof to believe in something but it does help. As a child I believed in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny, and they were proved to be true by the delivery of presents, financial rewards for tooth decay and chocolate eggs. Nowadays, older and a little bit wiser, I require more concrete proof before I invest my faith in the unproven.
However, whilst I don’t believe in God, I have no issues with other people taking solace from their faith. I have found there is a lot of truth in the old adage that religion is a lot like a penis: you can use it for the comfort and pleasure of yourself and your loved ones, but you shouldn’t be forcing it onto people who don’t want it (and priests shouldn’t try to force it down the throats of young boys).
Q2: If you don’t believe in God, how can you write horror?
The supposition here (I’m assuming) is that all horror fiction comes from those things that are opposed to God, but I think this is a huge paradigm shift in logic. To begin with, horror is not merely a religious idea. To begin with, if we look at the horrors of war, we can rule out religion. Admittedly, religion can sometimes be an extraneous detail in a conflict but most contemporary wars are fought for economic gain or to increase territories.
If I don’t believe in God, how can I write horror? Well, let’s tiptoe through the history books and read about the Rape of Belgium, the Armenian Genocide, the Baralong Incidents, the Gardelegeng Massacre or any of the other myriad horrors that have been wrought upon the innocent during times of conflict. If you do believe in God, you’ll read about these atrocities and start to think it might be a pretty Godless world in which we live.
There is also a lot of horror in the practice of religion. Even if we ignore those religions that subjugate females because they’re perceived to be inferior or of a lower status, we can find horror in those religions that tell the gay that their beliefs, desires and lifestyles are wrong and should be suppressed, ignored and outlawed. Or those religious folk who pay lip service to piety and then walk past the poor on their way to church so they can show off a new fur stole, or a designer suit made through the exploitation of child labour in the third world.
This question is not meant to be an excuse for me bashing religion or people who have religious beliefs. If someone has faith I admire them for remaining true to their belief system and I hope it brings them genuine pleasure and satisfaction. But I honestly don’t think a person needs faith to write horror.