Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Similarity of Christian Fundamentalists to Conspiracy Theorists



Over the past few years I have noticed a close similarity between Christian fundamentalists and people who believe in conspiracy theories, especially those who consider themselves part of the “truth movement”. The truth movement in the UK is a loose grouping of (often one man) “organisations” promoting the idea that British society is controlled by some malevolent organisation who work in the background to control events and ultimately hand over sovereignty to some outside body as part of a one world government. The usual suspects for these accusations are Common Purpose, the Fabian Society, the Freemasons or all three. The current trend of “truth seeking” is similar to the “millennium bug” hysteria of the late 90’s which saw people storing food and building shelters for the coming catastrophe. The main catalyst for the recent growth in conspiracy thinking has been the 9/11 Truth movement in the USA which grew after the bombing of the World Trade Center in an attempt to find other explanations for that hard to believe catastrophe. However, many of the same ideas have been continually promoted by David Icke and others over the past 12 years.

This US connection may be why evangelical fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists have so much in common. Here is a list:

  • Belief that Britain is being sold out as part of a New World Order.
  • Dislike of the European Union.
  • Interest in the traditional family and denial of validity of homosexual relationships.
  • Distrust of organisations promoting progressive ideas.
  • Dislike of freemasonry.
  • Dislike of Islam (elthough with some envy of their value of the family unit).
  • Belief that all change is regressive.
  • Inability to recognise the zeitgeist (the majority consensus position on current issues).
  • Disbelief in climate change.
  • Belief in impending apocalypse (either the end of the Mayan callendar in 2012 or the imminent second coming of Christ and Armageddon).
  • Belief that debit and credit cards will be replaced by an electronic implant (the mark of the beast to Christians) as a means of controlling trade.
  • Support for alternative theories of science (e.g. free energy, anti gravity or creationism).
  • Putting greater trust in people if they have academic titles even if they are false or honorary.
  • Playing to specific enclosed audiences of fellow believers and not being open to external criticism, brushing it off as either the “unsaved” or “government agents”.
  • Fielding parliamentary candidates who often poll very few votes.

Both sides rely on their own gurus promoting very similar ideas. As an example, for Christians the late Barry Smith and for secular conspiracy theorists Brian Gerrish.

Both the christians and the truthers claim to have life changing information, but decide to sell it to a select group of followers rather than giving it away to the general population free of charge. Digital distribution can be achieved at virtually no cost, but they still choose to distribute by DVD, book, magazine or paid ticketed events.

My thoughts
Its quite surprising how close the two groups are in beliefs and ways of operating. Whilst I agree that there are actually some things about modern life which are heading in the wrong direction, I do see some good too. The recent deposing of Mubarak in Egypt was possible because of the greater freedom of communication possible with the Internet. The increasing freedom of communication means that if their ideas were true more real evidence would have emerged.

If I had the secret of free energy or how to change peoples lives I would give it away free in the knowledge that not only would I be helping people but I would also be securing my financial future through the fame his would bring me. I suspect that what we are witnessing with Christian fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists is a case of “the emperors new clothes” with very few small boys pointing the finger at their state of undress.

I can't help concluding that a lot of this is about earning an income for the people involved rather than revealing anything that is really true about the world. They certainly don't do anything publicly to help other people. It is all very self validating and self congratulatory in an "I told you so" kind of way.

7 comments:

  1. Another great post Gordon.

    Fancy a pint one night I am up in Edinburgh some time?

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  2. Sure, let me know when you are up. I work in the city centre. I just noticed that my contact link has disappeared from the right hand side of tis page, but you can find my email address here:

    http://www.hudson.nu/contact.html

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  3. Hello

    I've been reading your blog with interest over the past few days. You confirm everything I have thought or about or seen of the non-denominational/evangelical Protestants, and something of what I have seen of the liberal ones. They are just a sort of cargo cult version of Christianity. Don't lump the real thing in with them. You'll find much more serious, varied and realistic considerations of various things you've brought up here if you look outwith said cargo cult.

    But what I really wanted to mention was to do with the way you have written about "belief" in several places (didn't mark where, which I should have done). I think you would find Joseph Pieper's long essay "Faith as a Philosophical Problem" interesting. In English it's published as "Faith, Hope, Love" by Ignatius Press, a US Catholic outfit. I gave both my copies away before I got round to reading the other two essays, but it's worth buying for that one alone. (try abebooks.com)

    The way your depression was treated/considered was ignorance in full blossom (especially if it was a pastor) - no-one with any knowledge of human nature and the spiritual life would have acted that way (I mean, yes, a bluff or tetchy type might say "just gerronwivit, but they'd never think it had to have anything other than a perfectly everyday explanation).

    The five ways of St Thomas are not easy to understand even if you are thoroughly familiar with his natural philosophy and metaphysics, which most people who take it upon themselves to comment on the five ways in English are not: if you are not convinced of the premises, the conclusion will make no impact on you. And the premises take some learning.

    Etc.

    Anyway, it's been interesting reading all this, thanks for writing it all up.

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  4. Thank you for your comment.

    My battle with faith is really the old battle between pistis (faith) and gnosis (knowledge). I don't like the idea of pistis, and feel that I should just "know" what is correct. I will have a look for that book. I do know Aquinas although I concentrated on reformed dogmatics in my studies.

    As far as equating fundamentlaism with a cargo cult - I think you are right in many ways - it is a mechanistic view of how action can effect spiritual outcomes - "do X get Y". There is not a great concept of grace there and faith is a destination rather than a journey.

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  5. What a load of anti christian conspiracy theories youtr full of Gordon. Got your tin foil hat out to protect you from the evil christians?

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  6. Not me. Its some Christian fundamentalists who hold to these conspiracy theories. Please read the article.

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  7. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty,so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
    2 Corinthians 11:3

    Just a thought from a Christian fundamentalist conspiracy theorist....

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