Harlan Ellison (1934)
It was on this date, May 27, 1934, that Science Fiction writer Harlan Ellison was born in Cleveland Ohio. Ellison has been called “one of the great living American short story writers” by the Washington Post (Book World). He has (according to his website) written or edited 75 books, penned more than 1700 stories, essays, articles, and newspaper columns, two dozen teleplays (including “City on the Edge of Forever” for the original Star Trek TV series) and a dozen motion pictures. The multiple Hugo Award winner, for excellent in Science Fiction writing, has published story collections such as Strange Wine (in the introduction to which he mentioned his disbelief in God), I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled, Ellison Wonderland, Shatterday, and The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World. Ellison was the creative intelligence and editor of the all-time bestselling Dangerous Visions and consulted on the Twilight Zone and Babylon 5 TV series.
Ellison says on his website, “There are two things I found when I did the Merv Griffin show, the two things I said that got them really crazy, was that I didn’t believe in god, and that I really believe there are some people who are better than others.”
For the computer version of Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, the interviewer asks if Ellison believes we’re alone in the universe. Ellison replies,
How could I know? Look, I’m an atheist. People say to me, do you believe in God? No, I don’t believe in God. Because all the Gods that they offer me are completely as crazy as AM in this game. Every god that I’ve ever heard of, with the exception… if I had to pick a religion, I’d pick Buddhism. … it’s got humor, it’s got wisdom, it says to be nice to each other. All the rest of them have gods that want to beat the crap out of you if you defy the rules. I don’t believe that, I’m not an imbecile, I’m not a moron. I have to have some proof of something. When I look at Fundamentalists, I just want, I don’t know, hit them in the kisser with a pie. But in fact they rule most of this country, which is kind of sad.
In Article #29 from The Glass Teat, his first book of TV essays, Ellison said,
In an early class, one of the students asked me if I believed in God. I replied, “I don’t think so.” And then proceeded to wail on the theme … I observed the perpetuation of insanity on this planet through the mediums of Arabs-vs-Jews, Catholics-vs-Protestants, Southern Baptists-vs-Everyone. I said I felt if “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them,” (“Genesis 2:27, King James’s italics, not mine”) then we were God. And when Man (“my cap, not King James’s”) in his most creative, his most loving, his most gentle and most human, then he is most God-like. The student said he would pray for my immortal soul. He also asked for my address, so he could send me some literature on the subject of God. I thanked him politely and told him I’d gotten all the literature I could handle on the subject from a certain Thomas Aquinas.
Harlan Ellison once said, “The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen… and stupidity.”
Originally published May 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.