Faith is a firm and devout belief in something you know ain’t so.
– Mark Twain
Mark Twain was very clever, which is why he will be quoted for centuries to come, as opposed to, say, King Louis the XVI who was not and is thus, largely forgotten.
The most memorable (and last) thing Louie ever said was “Holy Crap, that blade looks sharp”.
Twain’s essential point in the quote above is that people often believe things, not only in the absence of compelling evidence, but actually in the face of all available evidence.
In many contexts, people choose (and it is a choice) to believe things that are not only lacking evidence, but are strange, bizarre, and nonsensical.
For centuries people were prosecuted for rejecting the prevailing belief that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the sun and all of the other planets and stars revolved around us.
Even today, some people fervently believe that alien life forms have travelled millions of light years, only to stealthily draw circles in our corn fields and then sneak away.
It’s a good thing we grow corn.
Otherwise, it would have been a wasted trip.
In the modern world, millions of people buy into conspiracy theories that don’t withstand the slightest scrutiny.
Still, they won’t be dissuaded.
Just log onto Twitter or Facebook and you’ll see how Joe Biden is a robot, sent by the ghost of the late Hugo Chavez to impose Communism on America.
Let’s just say the evidence for this proposition is…scant.
Trust me, I’ve checked.
Hillary Clinton was running a child-sex ring out of the basement of a pizza shop that has no basement. (That’s how diabolical she is!).
And, it goes without saying, that Bill Gates is secretly (but in a way that Aunt Hazel knows about) injecting microchips into our arms with the COVID Vaccine.
Apparently he wants to follow each of us around so he knows where we are, although our cell phones already track us 24/7.
I was vaccinated in May, so Bill now knows about each of my visits to the Hair Club for Men.
I hope he’s happy.
The research makes it clear that we are not all equally likely to believe this sort of thing.
In fact, it seems that the more religious we are, the more susceptible we are to conspiracy theories.
In the case of Evangelical Christians, the Venn Diagram is particularly striking.
But of course, this makes sense.
These people base much of their lives and their self images on the intensity of their beliefs.
And what they believe is obviously lacking much objective evidence.
I’m not saying you can’t make a case for the existence of some Higher Power.
You can argue that the complexity and integration of the universe is compelling confirmation of a Higher Power.
But even if the existence of a Higher Power, a God-like being, could be proven, the existence of a SPECIFIC GOD, named Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha, or Bhagavan or Elohim, etc., is really lacking any objective evidence at all.
All of the world’s major religions are pretty much based on some validating book or scripture, which tells the story of the deity involved.
Religious people believe that their particular scripture is self-proving.
But it’s not.
Whenever I’ve argued with a devout believer, their argument always comes down to this:
ME: How do you know Jesus is Divine?
THEM: Because it says so in the Bible.
ME: How do you know the Bible is true?
THEM: Because the Bible says so.
In terms of all logical constructs, this circular argument is not good logic.
If you think it is, try substituting any book for the Bible – the Koran, the Torah, the Vedes, the Book of Mormon, Scientology’s “sacred scripture” of L. Ron Hubbard – and see if you would still find the argument convincing.
Religious people however are willing to put all of this aside in order to gain the benefits of belief, such as comfort, moral validation, guidance, and yes, a feeling of belonging to something and of feeling superior to those who don’t believe.
Believing is very powerful.
When you are a believer, anyone who disagrees with you isn’t just disagreeing with you, they are disagreeing with an all-powerful God.
And of course, God always happens to share all of the believers’ opinions.
God is thought of as liberal by some, or as conservative by others, but God seems to track almost 100% with the positions of the believer.
Did you ever hear a religious person say “I am for X. But sadly, God is against it. It’s a real dilemma for me.”
No, God always agrees with the believer and always shares their views on everything from abortion, to taxes, to NAFTA, to LGBTQ rights, to doing an election audit of Arizona or their hatred of Hillary Clinton.
Given the high benefits of belief and the relatively low cost, it is not surprising that believers would extend their propensity towards belief to arenas beyond the religious.
And conspiracy theories are the perfect receptacle for the easy belief of the believer.
In fact, conspiracy theories are perfectly aligned with what believers already accept.
And that is because most major organized religions are themselves conspiracy theories.
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that the FBI has deemed a domestic terrorist threat.
Its believers believe that a shadowy international child-trafficking ring — run by Satan-worshipping Democrats (especially Hillary and Bill Clinton), Hollywood elites, lizard-humanoids… and Tom Hanks — sexually abuse and torture kids in order to extract a psychedelic, youth-rejuvenating chemical from their victims’ pituitary glands.
The tenets of QAnon are specific: that Trump is the Chosen One, sent to finally destroy this ring of Satanic pedophiles long protected by access to elite positions of authority, and that the mysterious, anonymous, eponymous “Q” will provide the clues to lead followers to the truth.
Of note, QAnon believers have not partnered up with any international organizations that actually work to prevent child trafficking.
QAnon was prominent in the January 6 Capitol insurrection and has been linked to death threats against LGBTQ politicians and a 2016 shooting at Comet Ping Pong, a gay-owned pizzaria in Washington, D.C., that was supposedly a center for the pedophile ring.
A solid QAnon fortress has been the Evangelical community.
One prominent theory, posited by Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, is that modern strains of Christian Evangelicalism which “run on dopey apocalypse-mongering” do not entirely satisfy all worshippers—and so they go on to find community and salvation in other groups, such as QAnon.
Evangelical Christians comprise a large segment of the Republican party and their influence in the larger conservative movement has led to culture wars around abortion, LGBTQ rights, gun rights, immigration and racial equality, for starters.
Recently they’ve supported and piggy-backed off the QAnon conspiracy theorists to demonise politicians they deem too liberal.
The idea that a secret cabal of satanic cannibalistic pedophiles rules the world easily gains traction amongst those that sincerely believe not only in an imaginary friend, but also an imaginary enemy.
The beliefs of QAnon fit right in with the American Taliban’s views of reality.
You can’t say it’s weird that Q’s believe Trump is coming back to round up all non-Qs if you believe Jesus is coming back to doom all non-believers.
It’s strange to laugh at QAnon for alleging mind-control vaccines while over half of all Americans believe in possession by evil demons.
Regardless of religious identity, levels of belief about demonic possession top 50%, except for Jews, who theologically reject the idea of a sentient Satan.
Born-again Christians are the most likely to believe in demonic possession, with 72% saying that it is real.
QAnon says there is a coming Storm (the slogan of the Texas Republican Party is, “We Are The Storm”) or great awakening during which everyone will share the realization that QAnon’s theory was accurate the whole time….the pedophile rings, the pandemic, and the deep state are all part of a cosmic battle between God and Satan.
Evangelical Christians believe in “The Second Coming” where everyone will realize the Bible was accurate the whole time.
Among white Evangelical Christians in the United States, 68% believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth by the year 2050, according to a 2018 Pew Research survey.
Can we mock the Q’s idea that a group of Satan-worshiping elites run a child sex ring and eat babies, while Christians believe that Satan is real and his followers sacrifice babies?
“Born again” Christians, Protestants, and Catholics are most likely to believe that Satan exists (86%, 70%, and 66%) and demon possession is possible (72%, 59%, and 59%)
What is the rational ground for laughing at Q’s charges that a cabal of top Democrats and entertainers are seeking to control us, and then calmly stating that the Rothschilds and Jewish globalists control us?
Is the idea of Lizard People walking amongst us in disguise really any weirder than believing that angels walk amongst us in disguise?
95% of Evangelical Christians and 94% of those who attend weekly religious services of any sort say they believe in angels, that in times of turmoil, life-threatening situations or even death, God will send them if He desires and if we seek their intercession.
Think about it.
In both religion and conspiracies there is a villain.
Whether it’s Anthony Fauci or Satan doesn’t really matter conceptually.
And this Satanic figure is pure evil, with nothing redeeming about them.
Furthermore, they are all-powerful, able to control legions of others and able to pull the levers of power behind the scenes to bring horrific things upon us, such as mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and vaccine passports.
But fear not!!!
There is an even more powerful being who supports everything we do.
And he is all-knowing, all-seeing, and most of all, never, ever wrong.
It could be Jehovah, it could be the Chosen One, Trump.
But the idea is the same.
In this clash of good (those who agree with me) and evil (those who don’t), there is a well-known cast of characters.
There are saints (Mike Lindell, Steve Miller) and there are sinners (Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden).
There are heretics (Never-Trumper Republicans, Mitt Romney, John Kasich) and traitors (Liz Cheney, Mike Pence, Adam Kinzinger).
The God-figure is angered by disloyalty.
It is the greatest sin.
And of course, there is a promise of universal redemption.
God will return to earth after the tribulations and rule for 1,000 years (seems short for God, but what do I know?) or, he will prove the election was stolen and be triumphantly reinstated to his rightful throne.
Another parallel between religious and conspiratorial belief is the near impossibility of talking the believer out of “the Truth”.
Understanding that belief in certain conspiracies such as stop-the-steal, or vaccines-turn-you-into-a-eunuch, is not logical, but theological, will help us understand how to, or whether to, try to convince our neighbours and family members of…well…anything.
It will also tell us what actions can be achieved by persuasion, and what life-saving behaviours need to be mandated.
Though conspiracy theories lack certain features of organized religions, conspiracy theories are quasi-religious representations, in that their contents, forms, and functions parallel those found in beliefs supported by institutionalized religions.
Arguments regarding secular conspiracy theories suggest ways to defend agnosticism with respect to God, from arguments that agnosticism is not a logically stable position and that it ultimately collapses into atheism.
Such attacks on religious agnosticism fail to appreciate the conspiratorial features of God’s alleged role in the universe.
Is the complexity and integration of the universe and the complexity of life on Earth compelling confirmation of a Higher Power?
We can’t know and likely never will be able to know.
Agnostic (from Ancient Greek – (a-) ‘without’, and (gnōsis) ‘knowledge’)
Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, the divine, or the supernatural is not known or knowable with any certainty, that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist.
Is there a “Personal God”?
As Albert Einstein said, “the idea of a Personal God who concerns himself with and intervenes in the fates and actions of human beings, a Personal God who determines what is moral and punishes those who go astray. is a childlike one.”
Was Jesus Christ the physical human embodiment of God on Earth?
Is God The Ultimate Conspiracy Theory??