Someone said: “Debating with some people about the absurdity of some of the most outlandish conspiracy theories these days is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are, the pigeon will knock over the pieces, defecate on the board, and dance around thinking it won!”
I find it particularly disturbing that many who identify as Christ followers these days seem to be unaffected by the truth decay instigated by pervasive political bunk wrapped in spiritual language. Their willingness to rationalize the behavior of preachers, pundits, and politicians is a mystery to me especially after they’re caught in lie upon lie. Of all people, shouldn’t we who claim to follow the One who identifies himself as “The Truth” be first in line to tell the truth about lies? Shouldn’t we be less susceptible to post-truth religion and politics, and the moral danger that tears into the fabric of our culture? Shouldn’t we be those least likely to buy what the conspiracy merchants are selling?
Previously I wrote a number of posts about conspiracy theories, speculations of hidden cabals pulling the strings behind the scenes of national or global events. But since then a plethora of new and “improved” fairytales have fallen off the assembly lines from a variety of myth machines. Not the least of which is conspiracy theory central called “QAnon.”
QAnon’s claim to fame is their outlandish claim that an elite cabal of child-trafficking pedophiles comprised of Hollywood big wigs, wealthy philanthropists, Jewish financiers, and Democrat politicians, covertly rule the world. Oh, and the best part is that only President Trump can bring them to justice with his secret plan called “The Storm” or “The Great Awakening.”
It pains me to say that this bizarre string of baseless balderdashes garners thousands, if not millions of American devotees. It’s no surprise then, even though President Trump claims to know nothing about them, he has retweeted QAnon tweeters at least 90 times since the pandemic began.
Polaris is a reputable anti-human trafficking organization that I have referenced a number of times in my own talks to groups over the years about trafficking debunks QAnon’s misinformation regarding the earmarks of child sex trafficking. What a waste of time for a dependable abolitionist movement to have to take their precious minutes away from their work to debunk QAnon’s red herrings.
Here are a few other bizarre claims of the conspiracy factory, some of which the president (yes of the U.S.!) has retweeted:
“The Covid-19 crisis is a plandemic scamdemic. It’s the new Auschwitz.”
“There’s a Blood Libel in the elites, where a secret cabal kidnaps children, drains their blood and cannibalises them to gain mystical power.”
“Biden and Obama directly participated in a plot to have Seal Team 6 murdered to cover up the fact that Osama Bin Ladin is alive and well in Iran.”
I could go on and on, but let’s not. Instead, let’s tap into some of what Paul wrote to his protégés, Timothy and Titus regarding myths, speculations, and conspiracy theories:
“[They] devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.” 1 Timothy 1:4
“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.” 1 Timothy 4:7
“They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:4
“Pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.” Titus 1:14
According to Paul those who promote conspiracy theory nonsense, whether spiritual, political, or otherwise; “devote themselves” to it. They’re obsessed with their answers to the world’s biggest questions, at least the questions they wish the world asked.
The reason they produce “endless genealogies” is to prove their superiority over everyone who doesn’t carry their pedigree or know their secret handshake. They’re proud of their bloodlines and the hue of their skin. Sound familiar?
They traffic in “controversial speculations,” which stand in the way of “advancing God’s work.”
Promoters of conspiracies often do it under the auspices of “asking the question” that others aren’t willing to ask. It’s one thing to have a healthy sense of curiosity regarding new possibilities, and quite another to traffic in speculations that lead nowhere.
The best way to relate to “godless myths” is to have “nothing to do with them.” He calls them “old wives’ tales,” by which I assume doesn’t refer to tales told by “old wives,” but rather to rusty old legends that wives tell each other over coffee.
Fixation on conspiracy theories doesn’t happen by accident. In order to be conspiracists in good standing with others of their ilk they must “turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” Either they don’t know the truth or they know it but it somehow doesn’t explain the universe in the way they want it to, so they make a detour around it with a blindfold on in order to maintain “plausible” deniability.
My friends, let us not be like Israel who at many points was “without sense” or “discernment.” “If only,” God says, “they were wise and would discern what their end would be.” (Deuteronomy 32:28-29)
I implore you to think critically, biblically, and wisely. Instead of turning toward myths, make a u-turn and go the other way. Rather than turning away from the truth, pursue it.
Job asked his rumormonger friends: “Is it not the task of the ear to discriminate between [wise and unwise] words, just as the mouth distinguishes [between desirable and undesirable] food?” (Job 12:11)
When you’re offered some untested morsel, before wolfing it down, if you’re smart you’ll take a small bite first. You’ll give it a taste test. If it seems worthy of consumption, you chew it and swallow. If it’s not, you fake a cough and spit it out into your napkin. (I’ve had some experience along these lines in restaurants and at peoples’ houses.) Before gobbling up every bite of news, we should apply the same strategy. Take a tiny bite first to see if it is edible; i.e., use a little discernment.