Stephen King on Faith in God, Intelligent Design, and What Scares Him

stephen king
Author Stephen King signs copies of his books, as part of The New Yorker Festival, in New York, September 24, 2005. |

The popular king of horror stories, Stephen King, told NPR in an interview published Tuesday that he believes in God and intelligent design, and shared about his personal faith experience.

"If you say, 'Well, OK, I don't believe in God. There's no evidence of God,' then you're missing the stars in the sky and you're missing the sunrises and sunsets and you're missing the fact that the bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together," said the author of The Shining, The Green Mile, and Dreamcatcher, which were all adapted into full-length motion pictures.

The cosmos, he tells NPR, is "built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design.

While King believes in 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." This doubt leads King to identify as "inconsistent."

"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 said.

His new novel Joyland takes place in a 1973 carnival. King sees the carnival culture in everything, including religion. "I think that we have a lot of carny aspects to life in America – everything from television and the movies to our religion," he said.

"And we see from the megachurches that – my goodness, Terry – people love a show," he added, with emphasis. "What I want is down in the 'amen' corner, Jesus jumping. I want that big choir with the people swaying from side to side, 'Ooooh God,' and I want the electric guitar. Then I want the preacher where the guy's going to walk back and forth and not just stand there like a stick behind the pulpit."

This semi-Pentecostal feel, King said, fits right in at a carnival. "It's really only about two steps from the carny pitchman, because I like that, too," he added.

King chooses to believe in God, but the prospects of neither Heaven nor Hell seem to weigh much on his mind – in this interview at least. "My imagination was very active even at a young age," the author said, mentioning his fear of bogeymen. "There was something in the closet."

But now, "the supernatural stuff doesn't get to me anymore." King has grown up, and now fears the opening scene in a movie. He describes "a woman in late middle age, sitting at a table and writing a story, and the story goes something like, ' then the branches creaked in the…' and she stops and says to her husband, 'What are those things? I can't think of them. They're in the backyard and they're very tall and birds land in the branches.'"

Bogeymen may not scare this avid writer, but Alzheimer's – and the possibility that he might forget the word for "tree" – does.

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