(From the World Horror Convention 2002)

For matters of complete disclosure, Wrath James White and I are friends.

For people who know the two of us, that never ceases to amuse them. We are polar opposites. Our writing styles, our lifestyles, our politics, our worldviews, our spiritual perspectives. However, we have more in common than we’re both black: we respect one another. His blog has gained him a host of new fans who normally wouldn’t pick up one of his works, moved by his passion and intellect (yes, he’s even guest blogged for me). We are able to have conversations on some of the prickliest of topics because we listen to one another, we’re not interested in converting one another, and we are genuinely interested in seeing how the other person comes at things, even if we don’t agree.

I recently reviewed his collection of short stories, Book of 1,000 Sins, and wanted to ask him about his beliefs and his work.

How would you describe your beliefs? Atheist? Agnostic? Humanistic?

That’s quite a difficult question to answer because I don’t know that I’ve defined them yet. Atheists deny the existence of God. I don’t deny that God exists I just doubt that man has the vaguest clue about the creator. I find most religions to be little more than wishful fairytales, manifestations of man’s fears and desires and some of them just border on the ridiculous. The idea that the being that created the entire universe would care wether you jacked-off in the bathroom or had sexual desires for a member of the opposite sex just seems absurd. No less absurd however than the idea that a few “Hail Mary’s” and an “Our Father” would allow a child molester to enter paradise while a Buddhist goes to hell. What I do deny is the credibility of faith, that it should hold the same weight as empirical evidence as reliable a source of knowledge. I suppose that would make me agnostic.

It sounds as if you want to believe in something. There are all types of faith: faith in science, faith in self, faith in religion. Would you consider yourself a man of faith? What role does faith play in your life?

I consider myself a man of theories and hypothesis. The difference between faith and a hypothesis is that a hypothesis can be proven wrong. When you hold a hypothesis you may want it to be true but you accept the possibility that it may be wrong. You are not committed to one conclusion or another until all the facts are gathered. A hypothesis can be verified or refuted and change based on new evidence. Hypothesis are not considered “Truth”. Faith does not allow for refutation. In order for a Hypothesis to be true there has to be a circumstance under which it would be false. For instance if I had a hypothesis that a gasoline engine could run on water I could test that by pouring water into the engine. If the engine runs I’m right if it doesn’t I’m wrong and I change my hypothesis to fit this new evidence. Faith allows for no circumstance under which the theories it espouses could be wrong. Faith does not even allow for them to be considered theories but only “Truth” with a capital “T”. For instance if I were to ask someone how they would know if God stopped loving them right now they could not answer that because they could never allow for that possibility. If I were to ask what would change in your life if God were to suddenly stop loving you. Would a loved one die? A favorite pet? Would you lose your job? Would you lose your home? Would your health fail? They would have no answer because the belief that God loves you is not based on any empirical evidence but faith in a book. No evidence can refute it because it is not based on evidence. This belief without evidence not only makes things like racism, homophobia, sexism, holy wars, and terrorism possible but inevitable. If your beliefs are not based on anything verifiable all I have to do to get you to hate someone is write in a book that God said you were supposed to hate them or put it in the mouth of a preacher. From there suicide bombers and Kamikaze death pilots are an easy step. It’s easy to deny human rights to someone you believe has sinned in the eyes of God. It is easy to hate them when you don’t have to give anymore reason for that hate then, “It says so in the bible.”

I love humanity and so I am offended by the ills I see caused by faith. All of the positive things faith has done could, in my opinion, have been done just as easily by reason without the risk of intolerance and fanaticism.

Do you allow for the possibility of the existence of God? What would you imagine Him to be?

I believe that an intelligent creator is possible. This entire universe could be sitting in a petri dish in some lab somewhere growing like a fungus for all we know. We could be little more than a medical experiment, a side-effect of some larger experiment. I would imagine that the creator of the universe would be no more concerned with or aware of the concerns of man than we are concerned with or aware of the microscopic single-celled organisms that live in our eyelashes. I think that the creator would be surprised to discover that we worshiped he/she or it. I think the creator would be surprised that we believed ourselves to hold such a high place of importance in it’s creator’s life. As surprised as we would be if we found out that the micro-organisms in our eyelashes were building temples in our honor and praying for forgiveness every time they cheated at poker or had impure thoughts. If there is a “Supreme Being” I doubt he would be quite a trifling and petty as man’s religions make him out to be. I doubt he would require you to light candles and burn incense and chant spells and prayers. That all just seems sort of silly. I can’t imagine a being that dwarfs the universe being as insecure and emotionally unstable as most of the Western master/slave religions make him out to be.

[to be continued]