Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Conspiracy Theories

One blog I frequent is Screw Loose Change, a blog devoted to debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories. This is a secular blog, and particularly in the comments there can be some use of profanity. But what is fascinating about it is how the conspiracy theory is a sort of substitute religion. Instead of a benevolent deity in control, there is some sort of malevolent conspiracy. The identity of the conspiracy differs between theorists, but still, the common theme is a conspiracy. A conspiracy theory is a worldview, and the conspiracy theorist filters reality through the theory.

The trouble is, it is a false worldview. This is demonstrated by its inability to make sense of the world as it really is. To take an example, until this year it was practically gospel among the believers in 9/11 conspiracy theories that the men behind the conspiracy were George W. Bush and Dick Cheyney. They staged 9/11, as the theory went, to seize power in the United States. Now, since the US constitution only allows a man to hold office as president for two terms, obviously the 2008 election, when Bush would not be allowed to stand, was a crucial test for this theory. As the election approached, it became a widely-held opinion that Bush would set up another 9/11, call off the election and declare martial law. Of course that didn't happen. After the election, in which the Republicans lost, there was speculation that Obama would never become president, that Bush would impose martial law. Never happened.

And I have yet to find evidence that any of the people who were speculating that Bush was in reality some sort of evil dictator who anted to suspeced the constitution ever apologised or admitted they were wrong! In fact, they go right on using the language of "coup". It is possible for an elected government to perform a coup, but this would necessitate that Bush, with military aid, adopted extra-constitutional powers and took direct control of the courts and the legislature, which he did not. Nor is Bush in power any more, having surrendered his office according to the constitution. Thus the world-view is revealed to be false. None of which is to deny the possibility of governments conspiring to seize power (Hitler was democratically elected), but to say that there is no evidence that Bush sought to do so!

So what are the Conspiracy nuts saying? That it was all a secret power behind the government. But that secret power must have already been in place, and so did not need to seize power. The worldview fails completely.

Should Christians entertain such conspiracy theories? No. Do they? Yes! But they ought not to. To take another example, there are some Christians who promote the idea that Obama is a secret Muslim. In fact that makes no sense, because Obama not only promotes Islam, ne also promotes so-called gay marriage, which is an abomination to Islam. Now, a cospiracy theorist could say, "Bell, that just proves how devious he is," but what makes more sense is to say that Obama is a religious liberal. You see, 'Obama is a Muslim" might explain Obama being pro-Muslim, but it does not explain his support of same-sex marriage. That he is a religious liberal explains everything! I have heard a liberal minister in the URC (the UK body of that name) say that Christians ought to "Reverence Mohammed." Religious liberals also hold that cultural acceptance of homosexual behaviour should be mirrored by the Church. Thus Obama as a religious liberal makes more sense than Obama as a secret Muslim. It also explains why he was a member of a liberal church in Chicago!

And the fact that there is no vast conspiracy explains better why the government can be extraordinarily incompetent at times. Also why we still have free elections, and why Mr. Brown, unless he can do something amazing in the next few months, will be on the lecture circuit this time next year.

Of course, as Christians we do believe that there are evil powers moving behind the powers of this world, but we also believe that there are angelic forces fighting for us, and that finally all history is controlled, nit by human conspirators, or by Satan, but by God. And what I have said about political conspiracies also applies to the idea of the New Age conspiracy beloved of Gail Riplinger. Because I had to get her in somewhere!

1 comment:

dyeve said...

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