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Conspiracy Theories

May 20, 2018

Conspiracy Theories and the Need to Understand, Author Christopher DOMBRES (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

The internet is buzzing with conspiracy theories that dispute the validity of mass shootings and attribute dark motives to hidden cabals [1].  The so called “deep state” is said to have hired “crisis actors”” to convince gullible citizens to give up their weapons, in a misguided effort to prevent more deaths from gun violence.  So the theories go.

There is a certain comfort in these explanations of events that – to many of us – feel incomprehensible, as well as threatening.  The heated and divisive political atmosphere prevailing give such explanations added power.

We should consider carefully, however, before we place our trust in conspiracy theories.

For one thing, the brain is wired in such a way as to make conspiracy theories attractive – whether they are accurate or not.  For another, Christians are warned not to trust in things with a spiritual dimension merely because they are “urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility” [2A].  We are instead to apply “the appropriate tests from reason and the word of God…” [2B].

Wiring Errors

Conspiracy theories have appeal because of the way the human brain is engineered.

Pattern – The brain is designed to seek out and detect patterns.  This can deceive us into seeing patterns where none exist.  Most of us, for example, can see the face of the “man in the moon” if we stare hard enough.  That is not, however, proof of his existence.

Intentionality – The brain seeks rational explanations.  This can deceive us into believing hidden motivations underlie random events.  We prefer any explanation to none at all.

Proportionality – When events are particularly shocking, we are inclined to believe the explanation for them must be proportional.  It is, in other words, difficult for us to believe Pres. John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a single gunman.

Errors in Judgment

Biblical discernment is the ability to decide between truth and falsehood, right and wrong [3].  It is the responsibility of Christians to be discerning about the things of God:

Test all [spiritual] things; hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5: 21-22).

We are instructed that two or three prophets should speak, and others weigh carefully what is said (1 Cor. 14: 29).  In fact, the ability to distinguish between good and evil spirits is a gift of the Holy Spirit not all possess to equal degree (1 Cor. 12: 10).

“[However] Christianity does not require people to disregard their reason, or to be credulous.  It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so.  It does not make it a duty to receive as undoubted truth all that synods and councils have decreed; or all that is advanced by the ministers of religion.”

-Barnes’ Notes on the Bible [2C]

The Word of God provides us guidance in every area of life.  God grants us “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1: 3).  Unfortunately, Christians often engage in unbiblical thinking.  Unfamiliar with the Word of God, they are swayed by worldly influences.

Satan’s Cunning

Satan, whose intelligence exceeds our own, knows all too well the weaknesses of mankind.  His goal is to mislead, harm, and ultimately destroy us with the purpose of causing God pain (John 10: 10; 1 Peter 5: 8).  Eve, you will remember, was deceived by Satan’s cunning (Gen. 3: 1; 2 Cor. 11: 3).

Lies, Scripture tells us, are Satan’s stock in trade (John 8: 44).  It should come as no surprise that he would attempt to use lies to confuse and divide us, if possible, inciting violence, in the process.

Dark Forces

Our struggle is against dark forces, though not the forces cited by conspiracy theories.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6: 12).

Our minds are Satan’s battleground [4].  Wherever we stand on the issue of gun control, we must not believe the conspiracy theories which suggest that vast forces are staging mock shootings in order to deprive the public of arms [5].

There is evil enough associated with the mass shootings to which the world has been subjected in recent years.  Conspiracy theories may provide a comforting explanation when we are otherwise at a loss.  But they will only divide this nation further.

[1]  The Guardian, “Crisis actors, deep state, false flag:  the rise of conspiracy theory code words” by Jason Wilson, 2/21/18, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/21/crisis-actors-deep-state-false-flag-the-rise-of-conspiracy-theory-code-words.

[2A, B and C]  Bible Hub, Commentaries, 1 Thessalonians 5: 21, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_thessalonians/5-21.htm.

[3]  Grace to You, “What is biblical discernment and why is it important?” by John MacArthur, 2018, https://www.gty.org/library/questions/QA138/what-is-biblical-discernment-and-why-is-it-important.

[4]  Desiring God, “The Battle for Your Mind” by Rick Warren, 10/1/10,  https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-battle-for-your-mind.

[5]  Those of us who have seen urban violence tend to favor gun control.  Those with a rural tradition of hunting tend to oppose it.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

15 Comments
  1. Wow, I had no idea there were conspiracy theories out there regarding the validity of mass shootings (Kennedy’s assassination, landing on the moon, and alien spaceship landings, yes, but not mass shootings)! Amazing what people will believe! I wonder what the families of the dead people would have to say to proponents of those theories…

    • For the families directly impacted by this violence, such theories cause enormous pain. Some survivors have actually been attacked online.

  2. Well said, as always. I love your posts.

  3. Great post. I had no idea about these theories and that “normal” people are believing this stuff. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. As you say Anna, Satan’s intelligence far exceeds our own. This enables him to know exactly which button to push or which string to pull in order to maximize the damaging effects he seeks to gain at our expense. He is a master of disguise and it is no wonder that scripture refers to him as “an angel of light”.

    One of his most productive tools is the ability to create divisions among people. Left vs. Right, Liberal vs. Conservative , White vs. Black, and on and on it goes. What this does is distract us from the real problem at hand, or as I like to,say, the root cause. The enemy knows all too well that if he can keeps us fighting with one another that we will never identify and counter measure the real issue.

    Gun violence,like every other type of violent crime,is systemic of a far greater issue. The sad truth is that our hearts are hardened and have grown desperately cold,rejecting even that which comes naturally. Unfortunately for mankind, there is no law that can reverse this malady.

    If every gun safe was locked, every bullet confiscated, every gun rendered useless, none of this would change the fact that apart from God, we simply do not care for one another as we should. If every gun suddenly disappeared overnight, we would still be forced to deal with the evils of hatred, racism, and violence of every type, all of which manifest themselves in increasingly horrific ways.

    The only known cure is the love of Christ, a cure that unfortunately is soundly rejected by the majority. We are left to deal with the aftermath of this decision, and yet even the rising body count of our children isn’t enough to cause us to seek this cure with a sense of urgency.

    We are poisoned by Sin, but the master deceiver has us convinced otherwise.

    • I agree w/ you in every respect, Ron. However, I favor gun control, despite that. High powered assault weapons and explosive devices greatly exacerbate the degree of harm a single individual can do. Admittedly, that same individual can stab, burn, or poison others. But the death rate is greatly increased by assault rifles and IEDs (and the time frame for reflection or intervention greatly decreased). As you say, those w/ hatred in their hearts will always seek out weapons of some kind. That, in my view, is all the more reason to regulate dangerous instrumentalities.

      • I agree with your points Anna about the potential impact of these deadly weapons.Personally, I am not opposed to some type of controls that would make it all but impossible to acquire certain types of armaments. I guess where I differ is that I do not believe any control short of 100% confiscation of these weapons would be effective. Unless that would somehow happen, we both know that if a person wants to commit the type of atrocities we’re now seeing they will find the means to do so.

        I will say that as a former hunter and gun owner, I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone who isn’t wearing a uniform would have a need for some of the assault type weapons commonly available for purchase. A good start would be to make it illegal to purchase these weapons outside of the military or police departments. Finding enough politicians with the guts to make that happen however isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

      • Again, we agree. 🙂 I don’t know of any way to prevent all violence. The human heart is corrupt. Without Christ, there is no hope of changing matters in any fundamental way.

        For the record, hunting is already regulated throughout the country. Hunters can take designated species only in designated time periods, and can only bag certain numbers. Hunters, also, fund conservation efforts.

  5. This is excellent! A very insightful article, thank you Anna.
    And I certainly agree about having some gun control is necessary.

    • Thank you, Nicodemas. Sadly, human beings can always find ways of harming one another.

      • Yes, unfortunately. Perhaps we can make it more difficult and a knife hurts fewer people – than an assault rifle.

  6. I’ve read that people who feel powerless over their lives are more likely to embrace conspiracy theories.

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