The other day I watched an interesting video on YouTube that connected COVID-19, government officials, pharmaceutical companies, and others into one big conspiring ring of evil. It was sensational, but I wasn’t convinced. No verifiable evidence was offered for any key arguments or claims. Since I’m a big proponent of reading source documents (particularly when it comes to history and theology), I found the lack of verifiable sources disappointing from a journalistic standpoint. Perhaps some of the things they were saying were true, or at least partially true. But without verifiable evidence, an argument is nothing more than an opinion.
Later, I read this article by Joe Forrest that lists several reasons why Christians seem to frequently fall for various conspiracy theories. I recommend reading it. In the following text, I want to reiterate some of his points, add a few of my own, and provide a call to action – especially since many of the people I see sharing this video are good, intelligent Christians.
Why We Find This Video Appealing
Christians generally do not trust the government. There are many good reasons for that. We see that politicians are corrupt, have sold out to the lobbyists and corporations, and they hardly represent our interests anymore. Because of our largely justifiable bias against the government, we are more likely to be duped by someone who affirms our ideas with an intriguing narrative. Confirmation bias is a powerful thing.
We seek patterns. As Forrest points out, we naturally seek patterns in the world around us. When something happens unexpectedly, we want an explanation that helps us make sense of reality. Humans are extremely uncomfortable with uncertainty. We would rather believe a half-truth that makes sense then allow ourselves to linger in suspenseful uncertainty. I once heard a psychologist say, “An inability to be comfortable with ambiguity is a mark of intellectual immaturity.” In other words, we need to be ok with not knowing, with suspending our judgment, and allowing months or years for research to occur. But we want answers, and we want them now!
We want a bad guy. Part of finding intellectual satisfaction revolves around finding a villain. Because we don’t burn witches anymore, we must find someone else to burn with our outrage. After 9/11, America invaded Iraq even though Hussein wasn’t directly involved with the attacks. Likewise, after the Democrats botched the 2016 election, they invented a conspiracy about Trump and Russia dismantling the American democratic process so they wouldn’t have to admit to their own shortcomings. In the big and little things in life, we want someone other than ourselves to blame. Presently, our situation is no different. A virus “invaded” from the other side of the world, killed people, indirectly destroyed our economy, and has caused many of us to live like we’re under house arrest. We’re growing restless and we want someone to rage against.
A distrust of science and experts. We Christians are taught not to trust science from our youth because of things like evolution. When atheists attack Christianity, they almost always use a philosophical interpretation of scientific findings to promote their godless ideology. So, it’s bad philosophy and not science that is to blame; it’s a misreading or misapplication of the data and not the facts themselves. Additionally, we are increasingly having a difficult time trusting experts.
Egoism. I’ve written in the past about the desire for secret knowledge. I would hope most Christians don’t fall for conspiracy theories because of this elitist desire. But I think egoism plays a role in our refusal to let go. For example, when I’ve posted something on social media and it is attacked, I find myself becoming defensive because I feel my ability to reason is what’s being attacked. That’s a downside to social media: theories that we might hold lightly in a face-to-face conversation become publicly debated; now we’re entrenched in the idea because attacking it is attacking me.
Why We Need to Stop
Gossip is a sin. Sharing the faults of others on social media is gossip. We Christians, especially Orthodox Christians, are called by the Church Fathers to be like the sons of Noah (Shem and Japheth) who walked backward to cover their father’s nakedness (Gen. 9:23). That doesn’t mean we flee from accountability, but that our default position is to overlook the faults of our brethren until sufficient evidence is collected. Then a calm, rational case against the guilty party can be made with those who can do something about it. Gossip is the total opposite of that; it flaunts the faults of others (real and imagined) to find self-righteous satisfaction. This is a sin.
Lying is a sin (Ex. 20:16). If we have not investigated the claims being made – and we cannot verify that the theory is true with solid evidence – then we need to refrain from sharing it. Sharing something that might be true is gossiping and probably lying. I know for certain from watching the video that is making its rounds that hardly any evidence was given for the theories being proposed and that real human beings are targeted. If any claims in the video are true, we won’t know that until people take a considerable amount of time to collect evidence and provide it in a detailed way. The results will probably be much more moderate and may not even be particularly interesting.
Christians are called to be the light of the world. We’re not called to be woke, to be accusers, nor are we to “enlighten” people to the plots of wicked men. We’re called to be sources of hope and edification. Perhaps when we’re tempted to share something we should stop and ask, “How is this bringing the light of Christ into the world and spreading the hope of salvation?” If it’s not, then we need to stop.
Judgment Day is coming. We will all be judged by God regarding whether we lived in faith by His commandments. He will not ask us where COVID-19 originated, who might have spread it, who was profiteering from it, how well we defended our constitutional rights, and if we agreed to be vaccinated. Doubtless, many individuals and corporations are living out the motto, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” They are expanding their profits and power by exploiting people, and our constitutional rights are disintegrating. But they will have to answer for that on Judgment Day, not me. My constitutional rights don’t matter in the Kingdom of Heaven anyway, only my faith and obedience to God.
Satan is the bad guy. Regardless of what is happening in this world, we do know that Satan works – without sleeping – to oppose Christ. Any evil, powerful people in this world are merely pawns of Satan – whether they be politicians, CEOs, or the Illuminati. If we have anger and outrage, it should be against the devil and the way he deceives us. We’re wasting our time by attacking our fellow humans. They are not the enemy.
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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
That armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, walking in the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. If we keep our eyes on the Kingdom of God and develop these things within us, we will not be distracted by the evil in this world.
Who’s behind COVID-19? Ultimately, it is the sin of humanity that brought death and disease into the world and Satan who continually tempts us towards evil. So let us “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).
Update: An investigative journalist reached out to the maker of Plandemic and asked some very direct questions about sources and motives. The result was even more revealing than I thought it would be (basically, the maker of Plandemic is saying he doesn’t know what point he’s trying to make and he isn’t actually sure there’s a conspiracy). Read more here.