The first video will come on automatically so you may want to pause it to read the post.
If the reader is an ardent Ken Ham/Answers in Genesis fan, it might be wise to skip this post. I am a long-time admirer of Francis Collins, who is (as am I) a theistic evolutionist, the founder of Biologos, led the Human Genome Project, is the Director of the NIH, a faithful Christian, and author of a fantastic book, The Language of God. He’s smarter than most of us. Ken Ham has made the disdain of Collins one of his lifelong ambitions. If discussions on this post turn to the *proof for a young earth,* I will delete comments.
The purpose of this post is to discuss the apparent penchant for the average evangelical to accept conspiracy theories. Most recently this has been exemplified by the ‘Anti-Vaxxers.* Sometimes, I become apoplectic when reading Facebook posts of Christians who are willing to believe just about anything without checking it out which is so easy to do these days. They have developed the decidedly unchristian tendency to spread falsities because it backs up their own biases.
Why one cannot reason with a conspiracy theorist
Here is a great video from Wired that shows why one cannot argue with conspiracy theorists. This is a 5-minute video that is well worth your time. In fact, if you only have 5 minutes, watch this instead of reading the post. “Why You Can Never Argue with Conspiracy Theorists” (Sit through the brief ad.)
Religion News Service posted Why American evangelicals are so tempted by the easy assurance of conspiracy theories by DL Mayfield.
Looking back, I realize I was exposed to a lot of conspiratorial thinking in my white evangelical world, even if we didn’t call it that. Climate change — a hoax perpetrated by liberals hell-bent on curbing economic progress. Vaccines — not to be trusted. However, the end of the world and the return of Jesus would be ushered in by a one-world government after Democrats elected the antichrist as president.
…Psychologically, these stories make sense. Our brains are wired to be on the lookout for danger, seek out simple solutions and minimize complexity. It’s easier for some of us to believe COVID-19 is manmade
…Novels such as Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness” pitted a small group of God-fearing folk at war with demon-possessed academics and newspaper editors, police chiefs and executives running multinational corporations.
…In a recent podcast series for the CBC, journalist Lisa Bryn Rundle explores the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and ’90s, showing how mass hysteria contributed to the belief that satanic cults were preying on children throughout North America. A few decades removed, it is hard to believe that people were jailed for allegedly horrific acts with zero evidence.
…Children were being abused, of course, just not in the ways the media was reporting. We preferred a conspiracy theory to the complicated, and sadder, reality.
… we more often hear of “stranger danger” when in reality, 93% of sexual abuse against children happens with someone the child is related to or who is a trusted family friend. This is how conspiracy theories do their damage, by pulling us away from the real problem and the more complex but lasting solutions.
…For example, if white, highly educated middle class women lead the charge on resisting vaccines for COVID-19 (statistically they are the most likely demographic to be anti mandatory vaccines), then those with real health risks and an inability to be vaccinated will be put most at risk for contracting the deadly disease.
Years ago, I heard a pastor say that he met a woman in the 1980s who claimed she had seen babies being sacrificed in a Satanic cult. I asked him if he had asked her to call the. police. Better yet, did he think about calling the police? Of course, no one called the police. Deep down inside, both the woman and the pastor knew that the story was highly unlikely. Many churches were more likely to believe the *Satanic* explanation as opposed to looking carefully within their own churches to see pastors and families who were abusing their children. This is a lesson that the SBC should have learned.
This leads us to the COVID vaccine.
In an interview on “Meet the Press,” Collins said that mistrust of vaccines continues to be a source of great concern to public health officials, insisting that anyone who wants to “look at the facts” surrounding the vaccine’s development, testing and safety record should “be very reassured.”
…“This is a very powerful outcome of this incredibly intense, yearlong experience, to develop this. I think all reasonable people — if they had the chance to put the noise aside and disregard all those terrible conspiracy theories — would look at this and say: I want this for my family, I want it for myself. People are dying right now; how could you possibly say let’s wait and see if that might mean some terrible tragedy is going to befall.”
…“There have been few if any vaccines that have ever been subjected to this level of scrutiny. If you want to look at the facts, I think you should be very reassured,” Collins said.
He reiterated his position in this video: ‘Hit the reset button’ on vaccine skepticism.”
My entire family will get the vaccine, including my 92-year-old mother, whenever it is offered. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. However, Todd and I still believe in UFOs. 😁