H.P. Lovecraft and the Godless Worldview

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, born August 20, 1890, was the great horror writer of his generation. Lovecraft created the so-called Cthulhu mythos, which is even today visited liberally by imaginative writers the world over. Even one of my favorite Babylon 5 episodes, Third Space, visited Lovecraft’s chilling universe.

Lovecraft seems to have lived a depressing and lonely life. As a young man, particularly from ages 18 to 23, he had “almost no contact with anyone but his mother.” (link)  In 1924 he married, though he and his wife separated a few years afterward, never to live with each other again. The divorce was never finalized.

Lovecraft was hardly a prolific writer and never wrote even a single full lengthed novel. He would have died into obscurity had it not been for the efforts of his “pen pals,” particularly August Derleth, who managed to breath life into his stories posthumously.

Not socially adept, Lovecraft’s pen pals were his real social life. He is believed to have written “nearly 100,000 letters in his lifetime.” Of which one-fifth survive. (Link) Through his correspondences he inspired numerous famous authors, including Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard. His stories directly inspired the current generation of horror writers, such as Stephen King. King called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s great practitioner of the class horror tale.” (link)

Cosmic Horror: Fear of the Truth

Lovecraft invented a whole new genre of horror known today as Cosmic Horror, Cosmic Pessimism, or Cosmicism. In Lovecraft’s tales, typically the storyteller is explaining how they stumbled upon some bit of forbidden knowledge that proves to marginalize the importance of the existence of humankind. Unable to deal with the truth, said storyteller either goes insane and is locked into an asylum or commits suicide to escape the truth.

One of my favorite examples of this is the story of Shadow over Innsmouth. (Which, I might add, was creepily brought to life in the video game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.)

In this classic tale, a visitor to the sea port town of Innsmouth becomes too curious for his own good and begins to research the strange happenings in Innsmouth. He accidentally stumbles upon the horrifying tale that the residence of Innsmouth are actually a cross breed between humans and the Spawn of Cthulhu known as The Deep Ones – an ancient advanced race of sea monsters that make humans look like mere monkeys.

Forced to spend the night in their only hotel, he soon finds that the denizens do not intend to let him leave Innsmouth alive with his knowledge. Though he manages to escape with his life, he soon discovers that he was drawn to the town because he himself is a descendent of Innsmouth stalk. He soon finds his human features dissolving day by day as he is drawn to the siren call of the Deep Ones in the sea.

This story is an apt illustration of Lovecraft’s reoccurring themes, particularly “psychic disintegration in the face of cosmic horror perceived as ‘truth’” (link), discovery of advanced races or gods hostile to humanity, and horror at discovering one’s bestial (evolutionary?) heritage.

The Religion of Lovecraft

Joyce Carol Oates suggested that Lovecraft’s “gothic tale[s] would seem to form psychic autobiography” apparently inspired by his own religious views, commonly called Maltheism where one “achieve[s] the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.” (link)

In a letter to Robert E. Howard, he affirmed his agnostic-atheist beliefs:

All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or an eternal survival of personality exist. They are the most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses which can be made about the universe… (link)

The Logical Conclusions of Atheism

Indeed, it is not hard to discern that Lovecraft’s horror was nothing less than an atheist worldview followed with fidelity to its logical conclusions. Lovecraft’s real gift was his ability to understand the ramifications of his own beliefs and to channel that into horror fiction.

To Lovecraft, morality was subjective and thus meaningless.

In a cosmos without absolute values we have to rely on the relative values affecting our daily sense of comfort, pleasure, & emotional satisfaction. What gives us relative painlessness & contentment we may arbitrarily call “good”, & vice versa. (link)

One person’s morality simply impacted upon another, with no hope of any sort of universal resolution, proving morality a mere illusion.

Now what gives one person or race or age relative painlessness & contentment often disagrees sharply on the psychological side from what gives these same boons to another person or race or age. Therefore “good” is a relative & variable quality, depending on ancestry, chronology, geography, nationality, & individual temperament. (link)

To Lovecraft, humanity was of no significance in the cosmic scheme of things.

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.  (link)

Once properly understood, the universe was a terrifying place from which our only protection was ignorance. We were a tiny bubble of illusionary order floating in a sea of universal nothingness that can and would snuff us out when it got around to it.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.  (link)

His love of science clashed with what it implied about humanity and our utter unimportance. If we really understood, madness would be the only option.

The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. (link)

Escape Into the Arms of Cthulhu

His belief in a Godless world in part drove Lovecraft to write his “weird tales”, allowing him what he called “imaginative liberation” from “the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which for ever imprison us.” (link)

So his fiction was paradoxically a simultaneous release from reality while attempting to face it head on. The horrors he wrote reflected his true horror of our place in the universe yet were somehow more satisfying in that we were not alone and were actually surrounded by the wondrous and fantastical, just out of our sight.

Even terrible gods like Cthulhu and Dagon, who cared nothing for humanity other than to breed us with their own spawn, would be a relief compared to the non-existing God that cared nothing at all.

21 thoughts on “H.P. Lovecraft and the Godless Worldview

  1. Bruce, thanks for this look at Lovecraft. As a former agnostic/atheist, I always find it interesting to look at the writings of self-declared agnostics/atheists, and it is interesting to note that there are always religious themes there. The lack of universal morality is a childish theme — CS Lewis successfully debunked this by pointing out that everybody has an internal sense of right and wrong, at the very least when you begin taking their stuff of harming them. The whole “honor among thieves” bit. I wrote about “1984″ that even though Orwell was not religious, he unwittingly shows the power of religion in that Winston’s only hope is the internal power of personal spirituality. The reason “1984″ is so devastating is precisely because Orwell offers no hope, no future, no way of overcoming totalitarian tyranny. Well, we know that many religious people were able to survive tyranny precisely because of their faith, which is the one thing Big Brother cannot take away.

    It is also worth noting that the vast majority of the atheist heroes (Marx, Freud, Lovecraft) has miserable personal lives. The lesson: be careful where your cynicism takes you.

  2. The coincidences of life fascinate me. I’ve lately begun playing a board game with some friends based on the Cthulu mythos (called Arkham Horror). Furthermore, the bloggers over at By Common Consent just today began a series of posts delving into the world of depression.

    The world of Lovecraft has always been extremely intriguing to me as it appeals to my dark side and love of all things in the shadows. Furthermore, while I’ve never experienced clinical depression personally, I feel an intense amount of compassion for those that have. I am currently working towards a masters degree in counseling to work with that precise population.

    The common thread binding Lovecraft’s tales and depression–in my opinion–was pointed out by Geoff. The relative amount of misery or joy we experience in life is directly correlated with our understanding of the goodness of mankind, the connection to something greater than ourselves, and the hope that evil will ultimately be triumphed by good. Without these core beliefs one cannot help falling into despair, as Lovecraft’s maltheism so clearly demonstrated.

    I am not claiming that clinical depression can be cured by happy thoughts; I understand the biological and genetic forces behind it well enough to contain naive and overzealous hope. However, I believe there is room in a well-rounded regimen for spiritual counseling that can help patients develop beliefs that stave off the additional suffering of nihilistic angst.

  3. I find the Cthulu business oddly interesting as well. But then I also like watching Trinity and Beyond: The A-Bomb Movie. I can’t explain the fascination.

    Spot on that this is the ultimate logical conclusion of honest atheism.

    One of the quotes also illustrates how hard it is, even for Lovecraft, to dismiss the notion of ultimate purpose in the universe:

    The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.

    Not meant by whom?

  4. While there’s no doubt Lovecraft was a highly depressed nihilist his stories are pretty interesting on numerous levels. For one it’s not just atheism he’s embracing but the loss of certainty that 19th century atheism (or extreme liberal Christianity) could provide. This is especially seen in his treatment of science. I don’t know how much science he actually knew, but his invoking of the changes in physics due to quantum theory and the non-Euclidian geometry of relativity are pretty profound. Often the scientists in his stories end up mad because of such things. Now why Lovecraft thought this sort of uncertainty or non-intuitive physics was nihilistic escapes me – but he did capture a certain geistzeist of the era in an unexpected way. (His Witch House story is my favorite dealing as it does with a dimensional traveling physics grad student unable to deal with the meaning non-Euclidean geometry)

    The other thing that has been oft noted is how much his texts are profuse with Platonism and even Renaissance forms of platonism such as the received forms of Kabbalism. (I suspect his Cryptonomicom is probably inspired by such “secret” mystic texts) Part of the madness of his characters isn’t just that the world is different, but that it is different in a strong Idealist way. But not idealism of the sort Kant or even Berkeley held to but something more like a radicalized neoPlatonism where words are more real than material.

  5. Clark, excellent analysis. I’m impressed. You should have written then instead of a dabbler like me. Actualy, you still should.

  6. I love his stories. Probably the only horror writer I can stand. (I like some of King’s books, but just a few and almost always when he’s not writing horror)

    The one thing about Lovecraft that does bother me a lot is his racism and xenophobia. He clearly is terrified by immigrants. Not out of line for the era in which he lived in which any non-white Protestant was distrusted. But still it ends up being as disturbing as the purported things he fears. I also find his love of 19th century architecture and fear or 20th century architecture a kind of funny element in some stories. But old building simultaneously have their own fears as well. So there’s this weird double movement regarding buildings in his stories.

  7. I was going to do another post sometime and highlight the inconsistency of his disbelieving in morality and also being racist. It’s really only one of many differences between what he believe and what he believed he believed.

  8. I concur. Good point Vader! The very point that HPL had such archain views of race (in his time or not), and his cyniscm toward Kantian moral philosophy, shows his own immaturity of thought as well as his own depressing ignorance. How can anyone achieve “placidity” through that worldview? The truth is, one can not. I believe all people with the abitlity to think, have an innate sence of right and wrong. If this is true, does that not war against HPL’s childish assumption of human spiritual ignorance? In other words, if I as an “average” human have the ability to think, do I not have the ability to make choices upon what I then percieve to be “known”? And if I can “know” something can I not be trusted to make a choice for myself without being “roboticly” ignorant as HPL assumes? Or is it more plausable that HPL’s own hubris was showing that (he) understood more of life and eternal existence than the “average” human? My faith is confirmed, deepened and made “placid” by my “growth” of knowledge. This is a blanket statement I understand, but many atheists I have been in contact with throughout my life are the most arrogant and ignorant people I know. Their attempts at “proving” there is no God have become almost a blind religion in and of itself. More like the “blind leading the blind” if you asked me.
    All (I believe), is acceptable in fiction for entertainment purposes. Have fun! But when fictional thought becomes confused with reality, that is when hard analysis of what is said and/or believed must begin. This is where I believe HPL goes off the deep end and his “opinions” fall by lack of truth and merit.
    I agree with Geoff B, that there is a one to one correlation between lack of belief and morality, and living one’s life bound and shackled by the reprobation of that “choice”. Just look at the misery of HPL’s life… Ick! If that is an example of what “living” is all about, I’ll choose to live my life in “ignorance” every time!!!
    .

  9. …and his cyniscm toward Kantian moral philosophy, shows his own immaturity of thought…

    Well I’d like to think lots of people are cynical towards Kantian moral philosophy without being immature. I sure am. (Cynical that is, not immature)

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  11. First, I must raise a problem with your claim that “Indeed, it is not hard to discern that Lovecraft’s horror was nothing less than an atheist worldview followed with fidelity to its logical conclusions.”
    The truth of the matter is actually that Lovecraft’s nihilistic tendencies are not derived from lack of belief in God but from the social and scientific air of uncertainty of the time Lovecraft existed in. In fact atheists both before and after Lovecraft have marveled at the grandeur of reality instead of embracing depression. If anything, our present insignificance is one of the most fundamental supports for the argument that we should become significant.

    Second, Kantian morality is justly questioned, especially in light of interactions with the world as a whole. Sure, a human can consider what a human would do. But Cthulhu sure as hell wouldn’t need to consider how his actions would affect us any more than we need to consider how our actions affect a colony of bacteria. To not get into problems with how Kantian morality is still subject to Lovecraft’s raised problem with morality.
    Additionally, Lovecraft’s understanding of morality is valid and supported in light of today’s standards; “good” and “evil” are human constructs to explain otherwise-inexplicable actions and in even MILD research reveals that [“good” is a relative & variable quality, depending on ancestry, chronology, geography, nationality, & individual temperament.]

    There is more I could tear into this, but these should be enough for now.

  12. Anthony,

    Didn’t notice your comment until now.

    Actually, you are putting a postive spin on the very points I made. Other than that, we agree.

    Consider, for example, your statement here: “If anything, our present insignificance is one of the most fundamental supports for the argument that we should become significant.

    Do I need to point out the obvious rational problems with this statement? Hopefully not.

    But for those that are wondering, if “significant” means something objective in this context, what does it mean while still staying rooted in atheism? If it’s just a subjective term, then don’t we already have significance if we choose? So it’s still not clear what it means.

    I do not doubt that atheists are not Lovecraftians. I do not doubt that Lovecraft was not a Lovecraftian except when channeling his atheism for the sake of a good story. I doubt Lovecraftians exist outside of maybe asylums where we label them mentally ill — which is what they are.

    What I think is in doubt is if atheists really and truly don’t believe in something very much like-unto-God in their heart of hearts. Your statement about ‘becoming significant’ has deep religious non-rational overtones of faith. In fact, that’s exactly what it was: a faith-based religious pronouncement. So are you realy an atheist then? I guess it just depends on how you happen to be defining the term at the moment. In any absolute sense, certainly not.

    While you feel free to side with Cthulhu based on anti-Kantian moral arguments, I have to honestly wonder if you really live your life beliving such a thing or if (as C.S. Lewis points out) you fail to act that way in real life when the shoe is on the other foot.

    It’s a fair guess — like 100% — that it’s the second since if you didn’t you probably wouldn’t be identifiably human many more and would be in a jail. The fact is that our brains are not wired to really believe that morality is just a subjective thing the way you are so coolly saying here. We can say it but we can’t believe it much less act on it. Are you really capable of believing in non-Kantian morality ‘in real life’? Is any one that we haven’t rightly labeled a psychopath? (Do even they?)

    More likely you really do feel morality is a fact about reality. We are all Kantians. So I predict a massive gap between what you are saying here and what you really believe via your own actions. Care to deny it? Right or wrong, I’m sure you know that it’s what it means to be human.

  13. “you are putting a postive spin on the very points I made.” It is not hard to do, actually. See, Lovecraft existed in a society where both ‘no God = no meaning’ and (subsequently) nihilism were on the rise. Understanding alternate philosophies allows one to develop nearly-complete “goddless worldviews” that are not as negative as Lovecraft’s.

    “But for those that are wondering, if “significant” means something objective in this context, what does it mean while still staying rooted in atheism?” Subjective traits can in fact hold the appearance of objectivity. But since you don’t seem to understand that, I’ll rephrase my original sentence.
    [If anything, the lack of our ability to have any lasting positive impact on our planet, let alone any impact on our galaxy or universe, should be what drives us to establish a lasting positive impact if not towards our galacy or universe at least towards our planet.]

    Good enough for you? Or do you want a version of it about providing long-term impacts upon society in general and our descendants specifically. Or some other level of meaning to the word “significance”?

    “While you feel free to side with Cthulhu based on anti-Kantian moral arguments” This is completely misreading my comment. I shall put it in perspective, then. From a Kantian perspective, ants do not have to obey the same moral obligations that humans do (assuming of course that ants have the rationality to support moral obligations to begin with). Do you agree to that? If not, then you aren’t worth discussing this with.

    To the Lovecraftian entities, humans are parallel to ants. Our level of rational thought, our moral obligations, does not apply the them. Why should our morality apply to the Great Ones if the morality of ants does not apply to us? And that is Lovecraft’s point in questioning Kantian ethics.

    “It’s a fair guess — like 100% — that it’s the second since if you didn’t you probably wouldn’t be identifiably human many more and would be in a jail.” There are more moral frameworks than just Kant’s. Additionally even an immoral person can follow laws; there’s a reason that RPGs can have “Lawful evil”.

    “More likely you really do feel morality is a fact about reality. We are all Kantians.” I openly admit that moral thought is a fact. I also openly admit that it is evolutionary beneficial. I even openly admit that principles held by Kantian ethics are principles held by other moral systems.

    But not everyone follows Kantian moral frameworks.
    But no single moral system is always reliable.
    But every moral framework has problems.

    If we take your claim that “We are all Kantians” as true, we must also take “We are all Confucians” as equally true.

    I could answer everything else but I won’t because it is dealt with by what I have stated above.

  14. Anthony,

    You are agreeing with me! With every comment you prove my point more fully. Lovecraft really did just take atheism to its logical conclusions.

    Consider our points of agreement and how they demonstrate this.

    Points of agreement:
    1. Yes, if atheists are right, there are (at least) two legitimate definitions for ‘significant’ whereby — and simultaneously — atheists see humans as both significant in one sense and insignificant in another. Lovecraft’s point that we are insignificant (your word, not his or mine) in that we’re going to be wiped out of existence — by heat death or probably much much sooner — by a hostile uncaring reality. This is atheistically correct and spot on. I do not see you arguing this point.

    Yes, I agree that from within that view we can ‘make ourselves significant’ not by overcoming that reality — that’s impossible — but by thinking of “significant” in an entirely different sense all together! This is what you are doing and not one whit more. You are merely equivocating on the word “significant.”

    Note that this confirms that Lovecraft was following atheism to it’s logical conclusions and you are proving my/his point.

    2. Yes, if atheists are right, and also Cthulhu existed, I agree that Cthulhu can and would squash us like ants and it would have the same ‘moral ramifications’ as us killing ants, thereby proving beyond doubt that Kantian morals are wrong. But then this makes sense because there are no moral ramifications *at all* in an atheistic universe beyond what we decide for ourselves. If Cthulhu decides it’s ‘moral’ to kill us all and he has the power to do it, then that’s moral reality in an atheistic worldview by fiat.

    Thus you are proving my point entirely here. Note that this means Lovecraft was following atheism to it’s logical conclusions in his stories, just as stated. I appreciate all your support in proving my point. :)

  15. Anthony,

    I am curious about something.

    Take a proposition and please assess it for me:

    Proposition: All life will eventually be erradicated from the universe. By heat death (2nd law of thermodynamics) if not sooner by something else.

    Please assess this proposition as follows:

    1. This follows logically from our science. Therefore it is true.
    2. This follows logically from our science. Therefore it is the most likely outcome baring some new science being discovered.
    3. It’s possible, however unlikely, that we might survive forever.
    4. I accept that life will go on forever.

    I think the key thing here is that Lovecraft bought #1. He was willing to phrase it as #2, however. (Much as Bertrand Russell was willing to leave some outside chance, but thought we should accept #1 as rational.)

    When you label yourself an ‘atheist’ I’m assuming — and there is good reason for this assumption — that you mean either #1 or #2. In fact, if you don’t accept either #1 or #2, I have pretty good reason to believe that ‘atheist’ is the wrong label for you just based on the tautological definition of atheist. (i.e. “divine” doesn’t have to mean a personal God, it just implies the centrality of life, that life will not end, etc. Consistent with Buddhist or Hindu teachings, for example.)

    If you consider yourself an ‘atheist’ but you accept something more like #3 and #4, then I will not argue labels with you, but you should understand why I think ‘atheist’ may not be the best label in all cases.

    If you do accept #1 (or #2) then my point is this: the fact that Lovecraft felt hopelessness over the fact that life was going to die out no matter what we did informed his feelings that he put into his writtings. *You* are labeling those feelings as “insignificant.”

    *You* are then pointing out that ‘atheism’ (and here I assume #1 or #2) doesn’t have to feel ‘insignificant’ because, as life, they can affect their environment in positive ways for themselves, and therefore are ‘significant.’

    Do you see the equivocation here? It’s as plain to me as the nose on my face. There are two uses of the same word (or their antonyms anyhow) with slightly different non-mutually exclusive meanings. You are not denying that life will be wiped out of existence – thereby nullifying any ‘progress’ made. You are only saying that you prefer not to call that “insignificant.” Or at least this honestly seems to me to be your entire point. And I do not see myself disagreeing with you at all. I just don’t feel it’s a very significant point. (Pardon the joke here.)

  16. @ June 30th response:
    1.A) You forget right off the bat that “significant” is subjective by nature. The second you even consider it, and in any discussion of nihilism you inevitably will, to reject its subjective nature is either ignorance or intellectual dishonesty at best.

    1.B) “Yes, I agree that from within that view we can ‘make ourselves significant’ not by overcoming that reality — that’s impossible — but by thinking of “significant” in an entirely different sense all together!” I gave three levels of ‘significance’, all of which are valid, even the least of them, right from the beginning of the discussion. And at least the least of them (us towards the planet) CAN be overcome if we PUT FORTH THE EFFORT TO overcome it.

    1.C) And with that, you ignore completely that, because one level can be overcome, and because it is the most pressing and direct level of those I presented, a point or purpose to one’s life can be created on that level. This exists without a “god” to dictate “significance”, and hence shows that atheism does not NEED TO lead to nihilism. In short: with modern knowledge, nihilism is no longer THE ONLY logical conclusion of atheism; there are many.

    1.D) Likewise, the above is on a ‘level of significance’ that is not the most pressing possible: person to person. This is where ethical systems come from, and is able to exist without a god because a god is not necessarily involved. Hence this level could be used just as logically as, if not more-so than, ‘us to the planet’. And shows even more that atheism does not LOGICALLY need to conclude in nihilism.

    2.A) Let me rework your claim. “If theists are right, and God existed, I agree that God can and would squash us like ants and it would have the same ‘moral ramifications’ as us killing ants, thereby proving beyond doubt that Kantian morals are wrong.” Isn’t that amazing what critical thought does? Your own point used against you.

    2.B) Rework again: “But then this makes sense because there are no moral ramifications *at all* in a theistic universe beyond what God decides arbitrarily for us.” That is strike two.

    2.C) Reworking again: “If God decides it’s ‘moral’ to kill us all and he has the power to do it, then that’s moral reality in a theistic worldview by fiat.” Strike three, which is why I didn’t respond until now.

    2.D) Also, you seem to ignore that there are many more ethical systems than simple Kantian ethics. Your original claim for my 2.C only works IF KANT IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT, which 2.A shows is not the case. Strike four.

    @ August 6th response:

    First, premise 1 of your proposition is merely a generalization of premise 2. P1 for simplicity, and is indeed rational. But P2 is more-correct in any philosophical sense. Hence while Russel and Lovecraft (and indeed most scientists, myself included) “buy #1″, we do not conceed that it is absolutely true and stay on the side of caution in phrasing lest our words be misinterpreted.

    Second, I am an “atheist” because I do not believe that there is a god. That is all. You yourself are an atheist towards dozens of pantheons and hundreds of personalities and descriptions of monotheistic gods.

    Third, while I technically do utilize P2 as one of many supports for my atheism, its own premise is false. Any god (let us assume [incorrectly] that a ‘god’ is simply a ‘divine’ entity or force) if it ACTUALLY EXISTED would be able to “logically from our science” AND from “some new science” as science is devoted to discovering the truth. For this reason it is on the theist to prove their god, and by extension makes atheism REGARDLESS OF ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSIONS “true”.

    Fourth, quantify “survive forever”. The matter that I am made of has existed at least as long as this planet has (about 4.5 billion years) and will continue to exist until it reconverts from matter back into pure energy, this galaxy collapses in on itself, this galaxy is replaced by another galaxy, the universe collaspes in on itself, or the universe is replaced by another universe.

    Fifth, it is a technicality but the ‘end of the universe’ could be a ‘heat death’, a ‘cold death’, or a ‘big crunch’. Depending on if the universe reaches a finite size and stops expanding, the universe expands indefinitely, or if the universe expands to a finite point and then begins to collapse. Just a technicality.

    Sixth, “the fact that Lovecraft felt hopelessness over the fact that life was going to die out no matter what we did informed his feelings that he put into his writtings. *You* are labeling those feelings as “insignificant.””
    I’ll summarize the problems:
    1) The end of the universe is on the scale of BILLIONS of years, to assume it comes early. When there are more-pressing matters such as the present, yeah those fears are pretty much insignificant.
    2) Before the above objection to you, I never referred to his FEELINGS as ‘insignificant’. I referred to his ‘feelings of insignificance’, but that was the closest I ever got to ‘feelings’ and ‘insignificance’ in this discussion.

    Seventh, “*You* are then pointing out that ‘atheism’ doesn’t have to feel ‘insignificant’ because, as life, they can affect their environment in positive ways for themselves, and therefore are ‘significant.’”
    Yes, and no. Using the level of the environment: humans can affect it POSITIVELY REGARDLESS OF HOW IT AFFECTS MANKIND, so that when humans give way to the ‘next stage of evolution’, at least we would have contributed to extending the environment’s life, and hence on that level having significance. (And even possibly allowing that ‘next stage of evolution’ to exist at all.)
    However my more-pressing point is that significance is subjective. I provided in the example how a person can affect: the planet, the galaxy, and the universe. I left out on purpose other people, other living organisms, the ecosystem, the environment, and other environments. I left them out because they are self-evident. Yet they are all LOGICAL AND VALID quantifications of “significance” and as such “significance” can apply to all of them.
    *** And since you seem to need it spelled out: nihilism “is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life”. Simply, a nihilist posits that there is no meaning and hence no significance in life or reality. Hence if a position CAN apply significance to ANYTHING then it is not intrinsically nihilistic. ***

    Eight, “You are only saying that you prefer not to call that “insignificant.”” I am not saying that the inevitable end of existence isn’t “insignificance”. I AM, however, saying that just because we don’t make an impact on some random planet 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 light-millenia away does not mean that we have NO ‘SIGNIFICANCE’ AT ALL. This means that nihilism is not THE ONLY “logical conclusion” of atheism; and even more, it means that Lovecraftian nihilism is far from logical. ESPECIALLY given modern knowledge.

    Ninth and final, “And I do not see myself disagreeing with you at all. I just don’t feel it’s a very significant point.” Actually it is relatively significant (especially to the level that your rant is directed to: the mass of all people) because your entire rant (that is what it is) is based on proving a FALSE CONCLUSION and fills itself with false claims. It purposefully spreads ignorance, which harms society and by extension creates a mental barrier that prevents people from seeing the falsehood of the claims made.

    Let me compare it like this: Lovecraftian Nihilism is one side of a ten-story concrete wall that everyone is trapped on. Ignorance leads to people trying to jump the wall and/or hitting it with sticks and stones. Knowledge leads to bulldozing the wall, blowing it up, and/or using the available tools to actually scale it.
    Lovecraft tried to scale it and got high enough to see the view on the other side before his rope broke. But that doesn’t mean that everyone has to stop where he did. Some people (including atheists) before Lovecraft in fact did scale it successfully. Others simply went around and/or avoided it (more often than not this is what the theistic response to nihilism does). But now we can bulldoze it and use the remains to build more important buildings.

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