The moon landing of 1969? It was filmed on a Hollywood soundstage…That building down the road—the one with the manufacturing sign out front? It is actually a United Nations-run prison camp…You don’t really think that NASA has a Mars Lander, do you? That’s all done with computer-generated special effects…Did you know the most recent hurricane to hit the coast was engineered by government scientists?
To most, such statements are nothing more than bad jokes. But some people’s lives revolve around such ideas.
As technology continues to connect like minds in new and more efficient ways, conspiracy theories are spreading as never before. And they are here to stay. Are they worth exploring—even “just a little”?
Seeds of Distrust
Conspiracy theories have a long history—even in a nation as young as the United States.
“American pamphleteers in the 1790s warned of a plot by atheist, libertine Illuminati and Freemasons to concoct an abortion-inducing tea and ‘a method for filling a bedchamber with pestilential vapours.’ The bestselling book of the 1830s was a racy confession by a repentant nun detailing a scheme by Catholics to undermine Protestant morals. At around the same time, Samuel Morse, better known as the inventor of Morse Code, exposed an Austrian plan to install a Hapsburg prince as emperor of the United States” (The Economist).
Some of the most well-known theories involve the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963, still a topic of debate. Others include:
- The condensed water vapor left behind jet engines are chemtrails, or chemical agents sprayed into the air to purposely affect human beings.
- The HIV virus and crack cocaine were both created by government agencies as genocidal weapons.
- The UN monitors Americans with black helicopters.
- Groups such as the Bilderbergers and Illuminati are re-engineering global systems into a New World Order.
- The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was caused by an Indian-Israeli-American nuclear test.
- Fluoridation of water is part of a plot to control the population’s behavior.
The global Jewish community secretly controls most of the world, as set forth in the (fraudulent) Protocols of the Elders of Zion document.
- The U.S. military has the remains of extraterrestrials and their space crafts stored at a southwest Air Force base.
Countless others exist, with a new round bursting forth after every high-profile event. For example, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has become a new favorite target, as many distrust official information provided by corporations or governments.
The obsession with conspiracy theories has been compared to an addiction. Once a person has delved deeply into this mindset, recovery—a return to balanced, sound thinking—is rare.
What draws a person to these in the first place?
Conspiracy theories are a powerful source of pride and intellectual vanity. The theorist comes to see himself as thinking on a higher plane than the ignorant masses around him. He walks the fringes of society, watching his surroundings with suspicion. No one realizes what’s going on, he thinks.
If speaking his mind on conspiracies causes others to recoil, he simply dismisses them as “dumb sheep” who cannot see what he sees. Every episode like this further reaffirms how special this inside information makes him. The supposed inside knowledge he gains makes him feel superior—one of the elite, enlightened few.
If anyone attempts to point out serious flaws in a theory’s logic, there is a standard response: “The conspirators purposely do certain things that appear to counter their goals, just to keep investigators off the trail.” Once this idea is accepted, any facts—whether or not they appear to fit the supposed covert scheme—reinforce the theorist’s central idea that “things are not as they seem.”
Fueled by Technology
This thinking has found a new outlet with the Internet. As of this writing, a Google search for “conspiracy theory” returns about 78 million results. Websites and online forums (along with television shows) about the subject are multiplying.
One online forum devoted to this subject featured discussions on nearly 120,000 separate topics—and it is growing. Sample subjects include “Egyptian Statues on Mars?” “Dead Celebrities That Are Now Alive,” “Mermaid Caught Swimming,” and “Strange Snake Creature with Human Face and Blonde Hair Killed.”
Those who are drawn to this strain of thinking once relied on a scant selection of special-order books, a magazine subscription or two, and their own imaginations to fuel the obsession. Now, these “birds of a feather” can cross-pollinate ideas across the world via the Internet.
This results in a large online community of theorists who validate and feed one another’s delusions. Meanwhile, in the real world, the theorists become isolated from friends, family and co-workers who will not join them in a fantasy world.
One columnist wrote of this online community: “After all, thanks to Google we can find ‘evidence’ in support of practically any belief. If you can imagine the conspiracy theory, there is a website out there ardently promoting it, and a clan of fellow believers who share your peculiar obsession with fluoridated drinking water and the New World Order. The end result is that we never have to recant. We can always find another link to ‘prove’ that the government is trying to ‘zombify’ us, or that aliens are going to destroy the earth at midnight” (Wired).
A common thread of many theories is the idea that “the government” is responsible for terrible calamities and is generally deceiving its citizens. For example, some believe the United States turned a blind eye to advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks—or even directly perpetrated them—and now uses doctored videos and media manipulation as part of the cover-up.
This approach plays to an aspect of human nature that the apostle Peter wrote of nearly two millennia ago, describing those who “despise government” (II Pet. 2:10). Increasingly, the average citizen has less respect for law or authority of any kind.
Extreme examples are found in some conspiracy theorists who see themselves as above any and all law—“sovereign citizens,” as they call themselves. But this reveals the hypocrisy of many conspiracy buffs. The majority of Western governments now provide more benefits and services for their citizens than at any other time in history: medical coverage, food aid, unemployment benefits, welfare, defense, travel infrastructure, food subsidies, fuel subsidies, stimulus packages, the list goes on. How many theorists refuse the generosity of the governments they rail against?
In the years after the Worldwide Church of God apostasy and prior to the 1999 establishment of The Restored Church of God, some with the conspiracy mindset migrated into the splinter groups—with disastrous results.
Their heads full of paranoid delusions, they saw shadows around every corner, forgetting that “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure…” (Titus 1:15).
With time, their bizarre ideas spread to others, finding an easy landing among the “weak things of the world” (I Cor. 1:27). Certain ones became convinced that the Church’s mission must now include warning the world of a sinister New World Order.
In some cases, as the addiction spread and came into the open, whole congregations were nearly wiped out. During that time, we witnessed a tragic example of the following verse coming to life: “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses…” (Titus 1:10-11).
These members’ learned distrust of and opposition to the government—which violates God’s clear instruction to, “Honor the king [and others in positions of authority]” (I Pet. 2:17)—affected their feelings toward the ministry. When a minister attempted to bring them back onto the path toward eternal life, some recoiled and accused him of being a covert Jesuit or Freemason!
And for some, the disbelief and skeptical mindset was next turned toward the Bible itself, leading them to reject its divine inspiration. They let themselves be spiritually slain by this toxic thinking pattern!
Can You Know?
Make no mistake: there are conspiracies on planet Earth. Anyone with basic knowledge of human nature understands that some groups are perfectly willing to commit covert crimes to gain advantage, power or wealth.
However, the idea of well-known international organizations, with widely varied and often conflicting interests, somehow working together behind the scenes over decades—always conspiring, but never quite achieving their secret goals—becomes silly when examined in the light of reason. This is perhaps most true with theories that involve groups such as the United Nations, which have bureaucracies that make meeting even their publicly stated goals difficult, never mind covert agendas.
Is there any way to know what is true?
There are ultimately three positions one can hold on these theories: First, they are all true—which is definitely not the case! Even if they were reality, there would be nothing you could do about them. Second, they are all false, and obviously should not demand your time and energy. Third, they are a mixture of both, and there is no way to know which is which. If this is the case, then what is the point of delving into them?
One terrible result of these ideas is that untold hours of human energy and attention, which theorists might otherwise have put toward productive ends—for example, using the tools of Christian growth!—vanish in a cloud of smoke.
The Real Conspiracies
Despite most conspiracy theories being wild speculation and fiction, there is a real conspiracy that is underway. Satan, the ultimate conspirator, plots constantly, using his fallen angels and certain human agents.
His first conspiracy was against God Himself. Of course, nothing can be kept secret from an all-knowing God, and Satan’s plot to overthrow his Creator inevitably failed.
The next plot was against the first humans, Adam and Eve. This plot succeeded—our first parents were fooled into choosing the way of death. But this was only a temporary victory.
Next, Satan tried as hard as he could to prevent Jesus Christ from redeeming humanity, paying the price for our sins. He failed!
Shortly afterward, he successfully hijacked what was called “Christianity” in the time of the Roman Empire, launching a counterfeit that is with us to this day.
But now, in the end time, with God’s final Work taking shape, Satan’s last-ditch goal is to “take out” those who are qualifying to replace him and his demons in ruling over Earth!
Satan probes each of us, looking for weakness: Lust? Temper? Self-will? Vanity? Since we all have vanity in us (Psa. 39:6), he may tempt us to see if the mental drug of conspiracy theories will scratch an itch to feel special and superior. And, as mentioned, once a person is hooked, full recovery is nearly impossible.
Brethren, determine to stay far away from this unbalanced, un-Christian, destructive mindset. Focus on seeking God’s kingdom. Recognize that there is more than enough evil to “sigh and cry” over (Ezek. 9:4)—and to resist—right out in the open.
Do not let Satan inject the conspiracy drug into you!