Comedian Jeff Foxworthy does an amusing routine you’ve probably heard at least pieces of. He points out a situation that only an “unsophisticated” person would think is normal, and suggests if you do such things, “you might be a Redneck.” I say “unsophisticated person” because Foxworthy defines those he references – Rednecks – as someone having a “Glorious absence of sophistication.” In case you haven’t heard any of his routines, here is a small sample of behaviors and thoughts that might qualify you as a “Redneck”:
“If you think a Quarter horse is that ride in front of K-mart…
…You might be a Redneck.
“If you think fast food is hitting a deer at 65 mph…
…You might be a Redneck.
“If you wear a dress that is strapless with a bra that isn’t…
…You might be a Redneck.
“If your wife has ever said, come move this transmission so I can take a bath…
…You might be a Redneck
It’s in that tongue in cheek vein that I present another set of behaviors that might qualify you for a group that is as distinguished as those who Foxworthy targets for his jokes. This group consists of people with a certain mind set who cannot be dissuaded from their beliefs regardless of the evidence that is presented to them. In fact the more evidence you give them, the more likely they are to see it as a confirmation of their original belief. They are conspiracy theorists. And while this is presented a bit tongue in cheek, like most humor, it starts with a grain of truth – and it’s that grain of truth we’ll be targeting to see if those truths have taken root in your thinking. So if you exhibit a number of these behaviors – you just might have the mindset of a conspiracy theorist. What are they? Let’s take a look.
The Mindset of the Conspiracy Theorist
Since conspiracy theorists tend to disregard the conclusions of mainstream science (much to the chagrin of scientists), much study has gone into understanding the thinking and mindset of conspiracy theorists. One of the clear findings is a “higher-order belief” in a concept such as a strong distrust of authority supersedes any considerations of the preferred conspiracy theory being false, thus laying the ground work that leads to conspiracy thinking. A much quoted article by Sander Van der Linder on the mindset of conspiracy theorists which appeared in Scientific American Mind states the following about the mindset of conspiracy theorists:
“The study’s analysis concluded that people do not tend to believe in a conspiracy theory because of the specifics of a scheme but rather because they possess higher-order beliefs that support conspiracist thinking in general. A strong distrust of authority would be one such overarching ideological lens. In a belief system
in which authorities are fundamentally untrustworthy, alternative— even outlandish and contradictory—explanations for troubling events can seem plausible, as long as they are consistent
with a skepticism toward the powers that be.”
This is a key finding for our topic of interest: The Bible. There is no person or thing that inherently has, and therefore claims more authority over people than the Bible, and the savior the Bible proclaims: Jesus. As Jesus himself says:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'”
Matt 28:18 NIV
For those who reject any authority over their lives in general, and that of God and his messiah Jesus in particular, is it any wonder then that they also make up stories about why the Bible is not true, and why Jesus should not have authority over their lives? True, there is a spiritual component involved in this process: people rebel against God as Adam and Eve did in the garden, partly due to deception, partly due to a stubborn tendency to doubt God. Still, even with that acknowledged, people who reject such proclaimed authority are operating in the same manner of conspiracy theorist: rejecting clear authority and making up a preferred theory of reality. Van der Linder goes on to point out that individuals who tend to doubt scientific principles go on to entertain conspiracy theories which:
“…can lead individuals to become disengaged from topics of social and political importance.”
In the same way, doubt about the veracity of the bible can lead individuals to become “disengaged” from topics of Biblical and spiritual importance, thus leading to the syndrome we’re currently examining: the mindset of those who reject Biblical authority and consequently adopt an attitude that the Bible is not true. In effect they approach the Bible the same way as does a conspiracy theorist, with similar zeal and attitudes. The only difference being instead of rejecting an accepted scientific theory, they are rejecting accepted biblical truth, and clinging to (typically) demonstrably false theories such as Darwinian evolution and the Big Bang theory. It is important to note they do not cling to their anti-Bible attitude as a scientific theory. Scientific theories are falsifiable as Scientific American points out in a related paper:
“Scientific theories, by definition, must be falsifiable.”
The distorted views of those who reject the Bible tend not be falsifiable, and so are not science, and instead, take on the trappings of theories common to those of conspiracy theorists. Such theories cannot be falsified regardless of the evidence that is presented. Not doubt many would prefer not to see themselves cast in the same light as conspiracy theorists, but the behaviors and attitudes are too similar, too consistent to be just coincidence. To see how close the attitudes are, following are few examples where the attitudes of conspiracy theorists match the attitudes of Bible denying theorists:
1. If you refuse to recognize when your claim has been proven wrong..
… You might be a conspiracy theorist. Because:
Conspiracy theorists refuse to recognize when specific claims have been proven wrong.
Example Conspiracy Theory claim: The Moon Landing was faked by the US Government and the pictures supposedly taken on the moon were actually faked in a studio.
Myth Buster Adam Savage states: “Most of the alleged evidence that NASA faked the moon landings comes from NASA’s own photography which theorists claim shows clear evidence the moon landing was faked in a studio and could not have been filmed on the moon.”
The myth busters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage then recreated the exact same photo by making a replica of the moon landing site to scale and snapping their own photo. The photo matches the results of the NASA photo, but Adam goes on to explain why the Moon landing hoax conspiracy theorists wouldn’t accept their evidence:
“‘But you guys replicated the moon shot on a set and you’re special effect artists. In fact you’re exactly the guys they would have hired to do this set in the first place.’ But that’s not the point. The point is we’re addressing this specific claim by conspiracy theorists that this photo has only one explanation.”
Conspiracy theorist don’t see this as evidence against their theory. They merely claim Jamie and Adam are the type of people NASA would have hired to pull off the conspiracy. This is an example of where any evidence that is presented becomes part of the conspiracy theory. Following is how Bible denying conspiracy theorists exhibit the same behavior:
Comparison attitude towards the Bible:
In the same way, Bible-deniers make claims about the Bible that are demonstrably false, yet even when shown such claims are false, they refuse to accept it, preferring instead to add additional theories onto their original theories why the Bible still can’t be true in spite of the evidence. For example Lee Strobel relates this account where the Bible was thought incorrect, but once again proved correct:
“In Luke 3:1 Luke refers to Lysanias as tetrarch (that’s a kind of regional governing official) of Abilene in about A.D.27. For years scholars pointed to this as evidence that Luke didn’t know what he was talking about, because everybody knew that Lysanias was not a tetrarch but rather the ruler of Chalcis a half century earlier. Then archaeologists found a inscription from A.D. 14 to 37 naming Lysanias as tetrarch in Abila near Damascus – just as Luke had written. It turns out there had been two government officials named Lysanias. Luke was right after all!”
In fact Sir William Ramsey, one of the greatest geographers of all time who first doubted the accuracy of Luke’s account, after his topographical research of Asia Minor concluded:
“… that in references to 32 countries, 54 cities and 9 different islands Luke did not make a single mistake.”
In fact he found Luke’s account so accurate, he was convinced and became a Christian. But this isn’t convincing for most conspiracy theorists because they aren’t looking for truth. They’re looking for reasons to doubt the truth and continue on in their fantasy conspiracy.
2. If you refuse to consider all the evidence – because it disproves your pet theory…
…You might be a conspiracy theorist. Because:
Conspiracy Theorists tend not to deal with all the evidence, preferring to select only evidence that supports their theory
Example Conspiracy Theory: The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center came down by a controlled demolition operation.
Followers of the organization Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth believe that the World Trade Center came down not as a result of being impacted by flying Boeing 767 jetliners into them which subsequently caught fire causing the collapse; but rather as a result of a controlled demolition operations. Some take it farther and believe that the operation was a false flag one, meaning the perpetrators pretended to be someone else to achieve certain goals. False flag theorists believe the US government was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and then redirected blame by pointing the finger at Muslim terrorists.
I’m sure that small things like years of threats by Al Caeda ahead of the attack, and the confession of the mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed after the attack will not convince them that terrorists and not the US government had the motivation and thus were behind the attack. Let’s instead look at the cause of the collapse.
Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth are convinced the Towers collapsed due to a controlled demolition – carefully and strategically placed bombs that are used to quickly bring a building straight down with minimal or no damage to surrounding areas. However they seem to be unwilling to consider evidence presented by nuclear chemist Frank Greene and metallurgist Christian Simensen. Greene and Simensen say aluminum is the key to the collapse and is a factor that was not considered. Aluminum is a major component of jetliners and has a peculiar property: when it’s hot enough to melt and flow like a liquid, it will explode when it comes into contact with water. Greene and Simensen contend that it was the glowing melted aluminum (which can be seen flowing out of the windows) coming into contact with water from the automatic sprinkler system among other sources is what caused the explosions which subsequently caused the buildings to collapse. They charge that conspiracy theorists and even the official NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) report did not properly account for the effect of a 767 within the towers, heated in fire until it melts.
Comparison attitude towards the Bible:
My point here is that molten aluminum – which has 3 times the explosive power of TNT – is a major factor which should be considered – but isn’t. In a similar manner Bible deniers try to explain away the miracles found in the Bible. One of the most difficult miracles to explain away using only natural causes is the parting of the water during the exodus. Scientist think they have come up with an explanation: “wind set down.” In this scenario you have a ridge under the water, and the wind is strong enough to blow the waters back exposing the ridge. The problem with this explanation is it doesn’t fit the description in the Bible:
The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen–the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
As related in the Bible, the water formed a wall on either side, and the mass of water was tall enough that when released it drowned the armies of the Pharaoh. But wind set down theories allow for neither such a wall of water nor the drowning of the army of Pharaoh. First because as one researcher put it,
“…it’s quite a clear memory that the waters were like a wall. And there’s just no naturalistic explanation for something like that.”
The wind set down theory does not create the walls of water the Bible describes. Secondly because according to oceanographer Doron Nof, wind set down is “… a phenomenon that takes place in shallow water.” How do you drown the army of Pharaoh in shallow water? Thus the parting of the waters remains unexplained – by naturalistic means. But here again we see those who deny the Bible refusing to deal with the actual facts of the matter, preferring instead to stick to their theory which doesn’t match the facts – just like a conspiracy theorist.
3. If you make claims that are not provable…
… you might be a conspiracy theorist. Because:
Conspiracy Theorists tend to make claims that are not verifiable
Example Conspiracy Theory: The Origin of Crop Circles.
Crop circle conspiracy theorists (who prefer to be called circle “researchers”) have a number of theories of where the crop circles come from. Most of them are un-provable. Here, for example, are some of the un-provable crop circle origin theories that have been suggested:
a) Crop circles are a communication from earth
b) 98% of all Crop circles are not man made
c) Crop circles are totally connected with the UFO phenomenon
What would it take to prove theory “a” – that crop circles are a message from earth?
First you’d have to prove the earth was alive and sentient.
Then you’d need to prove that the communications were coming from the earth and not from hoaxers or some other source. I submit both of those tasks are impossible to prove.
What about theory “b”? What would it take to prove that 98% of crop circles are not man made? Well you’d have to have perfect knowledge of all Crop circles – not just the ones in Wiltshire England were they predominantly show up, but all over the world. Then you’d have to know the origin of all crop circles. It wouldn’t do, for instance, to simply know that 2% of the crop circles are man made, without knowing the source of the other 98%. If you don’t know the origin of the other 98%, you can’t say they are not man-made, because you’ve just confessed you don’t know the origin. Ruling out out a possible explanation without have the facts to do so would of course be falling into the error of arguing from ignorance.
Theory “c”, like “b” is un-provable (no one has ever proven the existence of material extra-terrestrial beings or vehicles); and we see how people tend to conflate and entertain multiple unproven theories.
Comparison attitude towards the Bible:
In a similar manner, people make un-provable claims about the Bible. One of the most common ones is that “Jesus never existed” or stated another way, “Jesus was a myth.” The first problem with this theory is the fact Jesus is the most well documented person in ancient history, recorded by well regarded historians such as Tacitus, Josephus and Seutonius. There are so many extra-biblical writers that speak of him that the Encyclopedia Britannica writes,
“These independent accounts prove that in the ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus…”
Aside from that fact, and perhaps even more importantly, how could Jesus deniers prove he never existed? They would have to have perfect knowledge of all people who lived in the time of Jesus to know for certain. That is to say, it’s impossible for humans today to prove that assertion. The only person with that knowledge is the God they don’t believe in. The impossibility of them knowing for sure obviously doesn’t stop them from making the claim. You might wonder why they do so in the face of a virtual impossibility.
Professor Christopher French, University of London who studies the psychology of conspiracy theorists like those who believe in the apparently impossible says they believe “by blind faith and a need to validate their claims.” It would appear the same is true of those who make unverifiable or false claims about the Bible – they do so out of blind faith. Ironically, it is Bible deniers who tend to accuse Christians of holding to a blind faith, when it is easily provable that their belief that the bible is not true is a blind faith in assertions proved false and unverifiable theories.
4. If you reject authoritative sources, claiming only you have the full, total or correct knowledge…
…You might be a conspiracy theorist. Because
Conspiracy Theorists tend to reject evidence provided by the most authoritative sources – they consider such sources part of the conspiracy
Example Conspiracy Theory claim: The Moon Landing was faked by the US Government, and you can’t trust what they say because almost no one had the complete picture of what was going on.
Conspiracy theorists tend not to want to use authoritative sources; or if so they only want to use certain portions of authoritative sources that they approve of (similar to item #2). For example prolific moon hoax conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel contends NASA was able to pull of the moon landing hoax because nobody, or rather only a very select few, had the complete picture of what was going on:
“Very few people at NASA knew. The thing is so departmentalized, you got the person building the bolts in Houston or doing this in Seattle, we’re doing this in Florida, no one knows the full picture. So, you know, we had no one seeing the full picture – of anything except a handful of people.”
So according to Bart, nobody had the complete story – except a few NASA elites, and of course Sibrel himself who would likely tell you he used his investigative journalist skills to uncover the truth. Yet he obviously doesn’t accept the explanations of NASA on how the moon missions were carried out.
Comparison attitude towards the Bible:
This is very similar to the Bible deniers who claim the Bible can’t be trusted. The twist is this – they claim they don’t have the full story, and neither does anyone else. They present questions such as: How do we know what’s recorded in the Bible is true? Why was the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha writings left out of the Bible? Wasn’t Christian doctrine made up in the Nicene counsel? They present question after question, all of which have been answered, but like Bart Sibrel, they refuse to accept the answers because in their mind – it’s all part of the same conspiracy.
If the solution to conspiracy theories against science is, as Van der Linden says, to:
“… to disseminate rigorous scientific evidence as widely as possible in the hope that eventually the public becomes less susceptible to implausible worldviews.”
Then the solution to “the Bible’s not true” conspiracy theory may simply be more preaching of the Bible, as the Bible itself says:
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”
(2 Tim 4:2)
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
(1 Pet 3:15)
And trust that it will achieve the purpose God has for it as his word says:
“… so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Before I close let me say that I fully expect to get the typical response from non-believers – that is to throw the same charge back in my face: “Have you listened to yourself? You’re the conspiracy theorist.” So let me say up front you can skip that charge: I confess to being a conspiracy theorist. Because what do you have in the Bible? Remove the negative connotations of malice and darkness from the concept of conspiracy (Because in God there is no malice or darkness at all 1 Jn 1.5) and what are you left with? The plans that are made and completed by a group of people, in this case the divine Trinity. And I certainly believe that God the father, God the Son and God the Holy spirit, planned together to:
- Create the heavens and the earth (Gen 1.1)
- Create Man in their image (Gen 1.26)
- Put a plan of salvation in place (Gen 3.15)
- Planned , predicted and rescued his people many times (e.g. Is 48.16)
- Successfully executed the ultimate salvation plan in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 19.28-30)
In fact, all of the will of God that you see in the Bible is a divine plan (conspiracy for those of you who refuse to trust God) – a detailed account of what the Father, Son and Spirit agreed and planned to do, did or will do, and their interactions with mankind. So skip the accusations. I confess. I believe the Bible is true, and like a good conspiracy theorist, there is nothing you can do to dissuade me or make me think otherwise.
If you are among those whose deny the Bible, here’s my revelation to you: you are also likely in denial that you too are a conspiracy theorist. And this would be conspiracy in the true sense, since you impute negative motives to God. The first and foremost negative motive being accusing God of lying since you refuse to believe his claims. For example, when scripture asserts, “Thus says the Lord,” a phrase used more than 400 times in the Bible. If you believe God didn’t say it, then it must have been people conspiring together to create false claims, impersonating God, right? Is that not a conspiracy theory?
You claim to objectively evaluate evidence but the fact is you refuse to truly consider and recognize the mountains of evidence against your position, and what’s worse: you are in denial that that’s your true position. You are in denial that you aren’t looking for truth, you’re happy with your anti-Bible, it can’t be true, conspiracy theory. Again my challenge: either admit you’re a Bible denying conspiracy theorist and stop the charade that you objectively look at the evidence; or like former atheists investigative journalist Lee Strobel and former atheist Sir William Ramsey, seriously examine all the evidence. Or are you afraid you might walk away as they did – a Christian, believing the Bible is undeniably true?
Duane Caldwell | posted 17 May, 2017 | printer friendly version
1 Van der Linden, Sander (2013). “What a Hoax: Why people believe in conspiracy theories.”
Scientific American Mind, 24 (4), 40-43. p.42, http://scholar.princeton.edu/slinden/publications/what-hoax-why-people-believe-conspiracy-theories
2. Van der Linden, “What a Hoax”, p. 43
3. Caitlin Shure, “Insights into the Personalities of Conspiracy Theorists”, Scientific American Mind, 1 September, 2013, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/insights-into-the-personalities-conspiracy-theorists/
4. Adam Savage ref. from Myth Busters, Episode “NASA Moon Landing Hoax”, Documentary/Reality-TV, 2008
5. Savage, Myth Busters: “NASA Moon Landing Hoax”
6. Lee Strobel The Case for Christ, Student Edition, Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 2001, Kindle ed. Loc 850
7. Sean McDowell, Evidence for the Resurrection, Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 2009, Kindle ed. Loc 2047
8. The Missing Evidence episode “9-11Secrets – Explosions In TheTowers”, Documentary, 2014
9. Dr. John A. Bloom, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute ref from:
The Exodus Revealed: Search for the Red Sea Cross, Documentary, Questar, 2002
10. Doron Nof, Oceanographer, Florida State University, ref from Biblical Mysteries Explained episode “Exodus”, Documentary, Discovery, 2008
11. These theories are from unnamed crop circle theorists who prefer to be called “researchers.”
ref. from “The Truth Behind Crop Circles”, Documentary (National Geographic),2010
12. For a short list of ancient writers referring to Jesus, see Tim Stratton, “Historical References to Christ From Non-Biblical Authors”, April 3, 2017, http://freethinkingministries.com/historical-references-to-christ-from-non-biblical-authors/
13. Encyclopedia Britannica, ref. from Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands A Verdict, San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1989, p. 87
14. Christopher French, ref. from The Truth Behind Crop Circles, Documentary (National Geographic),2010
15. Bart Sibrel, ref. from Conspiracy Theory – Did we Land on the Moon?, Documentary, 2001
16. Van der Linden “What a Hoax”, p. 43
All images – used by permission from the license holders as noted below
LEM on the Moon – AS14-68-9487 – NASA (public domain)
Julia set crop circle – © Peter Sorensen (used by permission)
Here for example is just one article answering the above question:
“Why was the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha writings left out of the Bible?”
Interesting essay. Sadly, your points contained do not adequately distinguish the status of the Bible from many other ancient texts. For example, taking your word that Luke’s reference to Lysanias is historically correct offers no confidence in the more magically sections of the book. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey were historically accurate enough to lead archeologists to the long lost site of the city of Troy. But that gives no one good reason to believe that a cyclops named Polyphemus who hurled boulders at ships from the slopes of Mt. Etna, or tha sea monsters named Scylla and Charybdis guarded the… Read more »
Are you denying the claims made pver the 1600 year creation of the Bible by multiple authors, when they say “Thus says the Lord?”. Those claims were made by multiple people, advancing the same agenda. If you think they’re all lying as they work together to achieve that agenda, you sir, might be a conspiracy theorist.
Of course I am. And it requires none of them to lie, either independently or in concert. They need merely have been wrong.
For most of human history people believed the sun orbited the earth. In fact… some Biblical creationists still do. Untold millions of them believed it. They need not have collaborated. They need not have been part of a conspiracy. They need not have had any agenda at all.
They simply were all wrong in the same way.