The Case for Cthulhu*
A few years ago my wife began attending meetings of a dark cult. At first she said she was just going for the companionship- for the company of other cultists. But over time I began noticing changes in her behavior. She became less timid, more aggressive and outspoken. We used to have problems with the neighbors allowing their dog to crap in our backyard but, as she became more versed in animal and human sacrifice, the neighbors became afraid to even speak her name. I have to admit- I found these changes to be quite winsome. At the same time, however, I was upset- this was not what I had signed up for. I had a plan for my life and it did not involve the great Old Ones.
One day I accompanied my wife to one of her cult meetings. Now, I'm a sociologist so I brought along my trustee notebook, prepared to write down and criticize everything I heard. That midnight, amidst the smell of burning flesh and the moans of the dying, the high priest of Yog-Sothoth gave a sermon on the basics of worshipping the great Old Ones. He spoke about the common things that all cultists believe. I was amazed! This was not the worship of great slumbering evil from the outer darkness that I had heard about. So, I began a quest. I began to investigate the truth about Cthulhu. Who was he? What did he do? Is he just a tale? Or is he a slumbering elder god whose horrific maw will sing the song that ends the Earth? I decided to find out.
My first source of information, of course, was the Cthulhu Mythos, the definitive resource for scholars of Cthulhu. Remember, I'm a professional researcher, so I know how to find information about ancient evils. Besides just reading, I went to the best possible sources on the Elder Gods. Of course, most of our knowledge of Cthulhu comes from the Books of Lovecraft but could I simply take his word for it? I turned, instead, to an expert witness: August Derleth. As one of the foremost experts on Cthulhu, surely he would help me sort out fact from fiction.
What he told me was incredible. I learned that Cthulhu was just the tip of the Elder God iceberg:
...the Old or Ancient Ones, the Elder Gods, of cosmic good, and those of cosmic evil, bearing many names, and themselves of different groups, as if associated with the elements and yet transcending them: for there are the Water Beings, hidden in the depths; those of Air that are the primal lurkers beyond time; those of Earth, horrible animate survivors of distant eons.
And about Cthulhu himself:
...a thing which was little more than a protoplasmic mass, from the body of which a thousand tentacles of every length and thickness flailed forth, from the head of which, constantly altering shape from an amorphous bulge to a simulacrum of a man's head, a single malevolent eye appeared.
But there was more- much more. Dr. Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee of Miskatonic University spent years researching the Great Race of Yith, and discovered that the Yithians are an ancient race capable of traveling through both space and time. Indeed, they had once held dominion over the entire Earth. Is Dr. Peaslee's research, conducted through participant observation, to be doubted?
I also learned about William Dyer, a Professor of Geology from Miskatonic University, who discovered a vast complex in Antarctica. This complex, once the home of the great and terrible Elder Things was still home to the monstrous Shoggoths. Dyer wasn't the only man to see the Shoggoths, however- he was joined by a graduate student named Danforth who was so affected by the experience that he temporarily lost his sanity. And these aren't the only sources of information on the Shoggoth or Cthulhu- indeed, they appear to have had a substantial effect on world politics.
Throughout this period as I was investigating Cthulhu my wife was standing in the background, hoping that I would see the light. She and other cultists were brutally sacrificing all manner of innocents to the dark forces that walk in the forgotten places of man's domain. And, in her own way, she tried to help me. She would leave copies of the Necronomicon around the house, with passages like "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," underlined. Or, in English, "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming." Sometimes I even found copper bowls containing still-warm human blood on the coffee table. I know she was trying to help but she wasn't, and I told her that.
The longer I studied Cthulhu and the deeper I went the more the evidence kept piling up. So many books, so many stories, so much horror from beyond imagining. How could it all just be fictional? How could so many have spent so much time on Azathoth and Shub-Niggurath if they weren't real? And what of Innsmouth and its dark pact with the Deep Ones? Am I to believe that the disappearances and economic revival are just coincidence? And how about all of the people who have been touched by Cthulhu- could they all be wrong? Could a creature who inspired such devotion only be a myth?
Eventually I sat in my office and drew a line down the center of a page of notebook paper. On one side I put all of the evidence I had accumulated for Cthulhu. On the other, I put the evidence against him. And as I sat looking at my list I suddenly realized that it would take more faith to remain an atheist than it would to believe in Cthulhu. And in that moment, I guess I became a cultist too.
When I told my wife she was thrilled. She had been hoping that the Elder Gods would open my eyes to Cthulhu and now it had finally happened. We were finally united in the mad joy of serving undying evil from other dimensions.
And that's my story. Now, I'm not here to tell you what to believe, but I am here to ask you to take a real, hard look at the facts. But if you do, do it with two rules: be open minded about your search and about Cthulhu and follow the evidence wherever it might lead.
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!
* Okay, for those who don't know, I'm referring to Lee Stroebel's "The Case for Christ. My wife and I recently had the chance to see the movie version and it was, in a word, pathetic. I like to assume that if you wrote a book explaining why your god is the right god, you'd include the strongest, most convincing arguments in the movie version. If so, then his book is absolute trash because the movie is shit. The structure of it is pretty much exactly as I have outlined above and it boils down to an argument from credulity. There's also an unreasonable priviledging of eyewitness testimony as always accurate (*snort*) and an absurd claim that oral tradition is an automatically error-correcting approach to transmitting information- which makes me wonder why students of oral tradition talk so much about "variants," or competing versions of the same story. In any case, no, I am not now a worshipper of Cthulhu, I remain an atheist, but the quality of my argumentation above is matched by Strobel's. I hope Strobel is happy with his new faith but, really, feel quite certain that his wife's conversion and the implications thereof for his marriage and access to his children had more to do with his conversion than any kind of legitimate research.