In part 1 of this series, I began a study in what I call tin-foil hat theology. That is individuals who are supposed to be Bible-loving Christians who believe in and promote conspiracy theories as the “real deal.”
I think I would be safe in saying that the bulk of these tin-foil hat theologians have an independent fundamentalist background, or at least that is where I find them concentrated. I am unaware of any specific Orthodox Prebyterians who are into promoting conspiracy theories on the same level as say, the fellas over at the Jesus-is-Savior website.
By the way, why is it that tin-foil hat theologians tend to promote their conspiracy theories with hideous, seizure inducing websites? Are there no Christian conspiracy people who can put together a decent looking website? Why must they all be bright, hi-liter yellow letters on a brown background with baby-blue flashing link titles and crude, rotating graphics?So here we have two, broad brushed generalities concerning tin-foil hat theologians: They are independent fundamentalists and lack the software and HTML abilities to generate pleasant appearing websites. But I digress.
All levity aside, however, I am personally grieved when I hear of Christians who have succumbed to being influenced by tin-foil hat theologians and their conspiracies. The reason being is because such theology, if we can even call it that, is extremely detrimental to a Christian’s spiritual health.
In my first post, I began to point out the reasons why I believe tin-foil hat theology is harmful to a Christian. Let me consider my fourth reason.
4) Conspiracy theories are based upon untenable, fanciful, and irrational scenarios.
I believe Christians need to pause and ponder the importance God places upon the minds of his saints. In other words, how we as Christians think about the world is important to our Lord.
The Bible describes fallen men as “walking in the futility of their minds” and “having their understanding darkened” (Ephesians 4:17,18); that he cannot know spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14); and that even though sinners know God, they refuse to acknowledge the truth about God and instead dream up fanciful excuses to explain away what they know to be true (Romans 1:18-23).
Moreover, the spiritual war waged for the souls of men takes place on the battlefield of the mind. The godly weapons used to engage sinful men are designed to assail the fortress of the mind by pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5). The imagery of spiritual warfare is connected to how men think: arguments being cast down, having the right knowledge about God, and thoughts captive to Christ.
Christians, on the other hand, are described as having their minds freed to think God’s thoughts after Him. The Bible declares, But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus … and be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ephesians 4:20-21, 23). The Christian is to be no longer conformed to the way the world thinks, but he is to be transformed by the renewing of his mind and to be sober in his thinking (Romans 12:2,3). Thus, a Christian should never be marked out as thinking irrationally about reality. His mind must reflect the logical mind of God by being reasonable and having a high regard for the truth in all areas of reality.
Even with this brief overview, it is clear that God places a vital importance upon how we think. Christians, then, are not free to believe any truth claim as “true” even if the person has really strong feelings about whatever it is he believes. We are to be mindful of what we allow into our heads, because what we dwell upon – think about – can influence how we view reality. In short Christians must discipline themselves for discernment.
Now I highlight all of that about the minds of men because a Christian obsessively indulging conspiracy theories does not demonstrate a sober-minded believer whose thinking is being renewed daily. The reason being is because when fully critiqued, conspiracy theories dive into the realm of the utterly fantastic and are built upon illogical premises. A Christian who thinks they are real is a person who is noted by everyone else as being gullible and out-of-touch and does not witness the sobriety of mind that should be common of a believer.
I say this for a handful of reasons:
– Conspiracy theories are untenable. They are untenable because conspiracy theories are unworkable in real life. Probably the main reason they are unworkable is that the secrecy needed to maintain the conspiracy is next to impossible. There are way too many necessary variables to keep it from being exposed, and probably the most risky one is the human involvement.
Humans are prone to general incompetence, as well as greed and other failures of the human condition, and the more people involved with the conspiracy, those human problems are compounded, and thus the greater the risk of exposure by either overall failure or by blabbermouths who are easily paid off to talk or just want to look like a big shot down at the bar. The Watergate scandal, for example, was found out due to human error. The fake CBS-Dan Rather-George Bush Air National Guard memos from October 2004 were exposed as frauds almost the very hour they went on-line at CBS, and again, due to human error.
Take for example those who claim the Apollo missions were hoaxed. Hundreds, if not thousands of people were intricately involved with the Apollo program. Engineers, technicians, government officials, civilians, and the astronauts themselves. Additionally, millions of people were eye-witnesses all around the world, including the Soviets with whom we were in a race to get to the moon first. The sheer number of people involved is enough to guarantee the Apollo moon missions were not hoaxed. More importantly, and this point is missed by conspiracy theorists, the Apollo program had a total of five missions to the moon during which men actually walked ont he surface of the moon. That means all of those hundreds of thousands of people had to hoax a moon landing a total of FIVE TIMES! There is no way they could have gotten away with it just once, let alone five times.
Conspiracies are just too difficult to keep secret even when there are only one or two people keeping the secret.
There are a couple of fun examples of conspiracies being exposed from the Darwinian world. In 2000, Archaeoraptor was purportedly the “evolutionary find of the century,” that proved bird-to-dinosaur evolution. The National Geographic Society claimed it was the true missing link that connected birds to dinosaurs and prominent paleontologists said archaeoraptor was the long sought key to that mystery.
However, it was discovered to be a terrific hoax. As science writer Dr. Jerry Bergman, states: “High-resolution X-ray CT work found ‘unmatched pieces, skillfully pasted over.’ The fraud was also determined to be ‘put together badly-deceptively’ involving ‘zealots and cranks,’ ‘rampant egos clashing,’ ‘misplaced confidence’ and ‘wishful thinking.’
Even another example involved archaeologist Professor Reiner Von Zieten who allegedly found remains in a peat bog linking humans to Neanderthals. His career ended in disgrace after the revelation that he systematically falsified the dates on this and numerous other stone-age relics. His deceptions were so serious that it may mean an entire tranche of the history of man’s development will have to be re-written.
– Conspiracies are based upon fanciful scenarios. One of the first questions I will ask a tin-foil hat theologian is, “why does he think his conspiracy is needful?” In other words, “Why is there a need for a conspiracy with thus and such?” The reason behind the conspiracy is almost all the time ridiculous and defies all credulity and the explanation of how it was accomplished is almost even more unbelievable.
Gail Riplinger, the Queen of King James Onlyism, suggests that modern Bible versions like the NASB or NIV, are designed to corrupt the Christian churches so they will be more willing to embrace the new age and the Antichrist. How exactly does the new age movement and modern translations connect? Ms. Riplinger ties together all sorts of absurd ideas that make no sense and are unsupportable by any known historic fact. I won’t rehash them here, but you can check out a couple of reviews of her claims here and here.
Another big conspiracy in the last decade or so that some Christians have advocated involves the terrorist attacks on 9/11. In spite of the fact that the government is nothing but a massive, bloated bureaucracy run by cubicle dwelling hacks who lose my tax returns, many people believe they had the know-how to fake hijacking 4 airliners full of people, set off controlled demolitions to knock down the World Trade Center, while at the same time keeping it all hidden from the millions of eye-witnesses in the general public (except of course for the anointed few with the open minds and dot connecting capabilities).
Others suggest that the government used holographic missiles that only looked like 757s. Since when has the government had Star Trek like holographic technology? Am I to conclude that all those terrified passengers who called from the cell-phones were really on some holo-deck in a government facility? Yet tin-hat theologians will continue to buy into those fanciful scenarios because it apparently justify some religious reasoning about the power of one world government or something.
– Conspiracies are based upon irrational scenarios. The fanciful ones are bad enough, but even more telling evidence showing how bogus conspiracy theories can be is how the ones with similar themes will contradict each other.
For instance, let’s return to the moon hoax. Moon hoax conspirators are convinced that none of the Apollo missions went to the moon and the government is covering it up. Yet, other conspiracy theorists claim the Apollo missions did get men to the moon, but the government is attempting to cover over the fact that the astronauts saw giant building and other alien structures. Now, both of those scenarios cannot be correct. Which one is wrong and which one is right and why?
It would be good to remind ourselves of Ockham’s razor, the philosophical principle developed by the philosopher Christian William of Ockham in the 14th century. Simply put Ockham’s razor states: all things being equal, the simplest explanation is probably the correct one. What is the simplest explanation for the moon landing? Was it hoaxed and then systematically covered up? Or did NASA really send up 17 Apollo missions with five of them (excepting #13) landing on the moon?
Consider another one from the fevered minds of end-times fanatics. Their literature is filled with warnings for believers to beware of events that are transpiring in the current day world that will allegedly lead to a One World government and the rise of the Antichrist. Yet, I would think, as ones who are fixated on end-times events and the Second Coming of Jesus, they would want a One World government taking place and the Antichrist coming forward.
Those are just a handful of examples of how conspiracy theories are detrimental to a Christian’s spirituality. A Christian who gives himself to pursuing conspiracy theories or allowing them to shape his or her view of the world is in danger of putting his mind in subjection to futility.