Thursday, September 06, 2007

On belief

A number of years ago, I had a friend - an intelligent friend - who told me that the Russians had blown up the Space Shuttle. He had seen the evidence, smuggled out of Russia "at great risk" that proved that a laser had been shot from a satellite at the shuttle. But the government was covering it all up.

Once I took a group of high schoolers to the beach for the day. While we sat in the hot sun, one of the most intelligent girls in the group tried to convince me that the world was controlled by secret shadow organizations, such as the Illuminati. We thought we were a free country, but they controlled everything - elections, food prices, gas shortages. . .and we were all victims of a massive cover-up.

In college, I had a friend - a pretty smart kid - who told me that the Russians controlled our weather. They had giant machines over in Siberia that could affect clouds, causing hurricanes and droughts over here in the U.S. And he had seen the proof, smuggled out of Russia at great risk.

I once talked to a girl in a Dairy Queen who told me she had read a book that proved that Jesus hadn't actually been crucified - instead he went to India, got married, had a couple kids, and died peacefully in a monastery.

How is it that truly intelligent people can believe such bizarre things? Certainly, Christians can be guilty of this. I once had a colleague, a pastor, tell me that the NIV Bible was the product of a New Age conspiracy to undermine belief in God, and he had seen the proof! It was all a big cover-up. And who can forget the breathless excitement over Y2K eight years ago. All those Christians buying up water and foodstuffs, believing the apocalypse was at hand?

But it's true of the other side, as well. The internet is full of websites "proving" that George Dubya Bush orchestrated 9/11, going so far as to plant explosives inside the WTC. "We Blew Up the Buildings And Blamed It On Terrorists!" And the Oklahoma City bombing? That was the CIA.

Need I even mention all those who take the Da Vinci Code as historical fact?

The other day I had a conversation with what seems an intelligent person, who was trying to convince me that our Apollo astronauts discovered buildings on the moon, along with warnings that if we continued to go back to the moon, there would be dire consequences. If you look closely at pictures returned from the moon, you can see where they airbrushed the buildings out. It's all a big NASA cover-up! And it's all over the internet!

How is it, in the 21st Century, we're still given to tales of bogeymen and monsters in the night? This seems no different than our ancestors who believed in werewolves and witches. I just don't get how people can actually believe these things - people who are educated, well-read, able to think critically. And they still believe the kookiest things.

And, of course, the worst part is you can never reason with them. If you begin to disagree with them, then you are either "unenlightened" or part of the cover-up. You're a sheep, being led along in your blindness to "the truth."

My biggest concern, in the end, is the damage this does to our credibility as witnesses to the gospel. When Christians go off on tangents about New Age Conspiracies, Y2K, cover-ups of evidence of life on Mars (I saw that book in a Christian bookstore), we look foolish in the eyes of the world. Why should the world believe that we have The Truth, when we spend all our time breathlessly debating the government cover-ups over moon landings?

I just wish I could understand why people believe this tripe in the first place.

Now, if you want to talk about the conspiracy that stole Super Bowl XV from the Seahawks, then you might be on to something.


Anonymous said...

That's ridiculous - everyone knows it's the dolphins running the world!

Anonymous said...

Time to get new friends Dan. Where do you come up with these people? I get ticked off at Christians who believe this crap too. Actually, they probably aren't Christians at all and that's part of their problem. It's all a mystery where these people come up with this stuff. I wish your blog could be sent out to all these fools. Maybe they would get a clue. Then again, maybe they wouldn't.

Gracie said...

I can't believe you forgot to mention the Left Behind series...oh well, you had a lot to cover.

In other news, do you have an email address? I'd like you and another pastor friend of mine to "meet." His blog is the rabbit hole on my links if you're interested. We may have talked about him as he pastors a covenant church...

Gracie said...

er wait, it's actually white rabbit.

Karla said...

hey dan,
so, how do we look any better believing in some guy that came to save the world by dying on the cross, rising again, and then....believing that he will come back to rule the new earth in the end? how does that sound less loony? i think christians are going to look like fools no matter what....i don't think our true story gives us any more credibility. does it? :)

Anonymous said...

The difference between "us" and "them" is that we have a peace that passes all human understanding. I don't need to write books, hang on to my faith in a frenzy, argue with everyone..