At Evolution News and Views, David Klinghoffer quotes King:
Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of things in life where you say to yourself, ‘Well, if this is God’s plan, it’s very peculiar,’ and you have to wonder about that guy’s personality — the big guy’s personality. And the thing is — I may have told you last time that I believe in God — what I’m saying now is I choose to believe in God, but I have serious doubts and I refuse to be pinned down to something that I said 10 or 12 years ago …”
He has intuited the concept of “design” correctly.
You may not like the design. It may not be the home you would like to live in. If you believe that someone you would call God is responsible, you can always say, “That is not a God I would choose to worship.”
Fine. Be thankful to something somewhere if you are lucky enough to live in a culture that allows you freedom of worship or non-worship, and leaves the disposition of all outcomes to God or whatever. Increasingly, most of the world does not.
Stephen King’s background as a horror novelist is interesting in this context. Job, probably one of the oldest books in the Bible, is about a devout man whose life is engulfed in horror on account of the direct persecution of Satan, allowed by God. So, depending how you define the horror genre, the Bible may contain the first horror story. It is certainly a story about malignant design, to borrow a phrase from Noam Chomsky.
A little background: Satan is, in a sense, the first evolutionary psychologist ever to expound on religion.
He claims that righteous Job only serves God because he thinks God has benefited his family and himself.
Job, you see, is religious because his selfish genes are passed on by religiosity. If they were better passed on by non-religiosity, he would curse God.
So God tells Satan, fine, take it all away from him. Job ends up childless, with an estranged wife who tells him to go ahead and curse God and die—and then he falls disgustingly sick. A crowd of well-meaning friends tell him at exhausting length that he must have done something really awful to deserve all this, and he should confess it.
But the problem is, he didn’t. He has nothing awful to confess.
Satan wanted to prove that even the exemplary Job was just a lab chimp, attracted to rewards and repelled by disappointment, the way all other human beings are just like lab chimps.
But Job was like the lab chimp in one way only. He did not know that he was the prize in a cosmic conflict. Unlike a chimp, he could know if someone had just told him. But he could not be allowed to know because his knowledge would wreck the test.
If you want to know what finally happened, read Chapters 43 on, “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm.”
In his lifetime, so far as the story tells us, Job is never told why it all happened or even who won. Perhaps, that is lest any reader undergoing huge, undeserved suffering thinks that he himself has earned the right to be told, on account of his heroic endurance.
At any rate, as Klinghoffer recognizes, King is spot on in his understanding of what design means: Things happen for a reason that implies intelligence, whether you think you would do it that way or not.
Maybe a horror novelist sees that better than a dull don.