Religion is a conspiracy theory or, perhaps, conspiracy theories are a form of religion. They both ignore scientific evidence, and, often, they both ignore any evidence at all that contradicts their beliefs. They both produce fanatics who believe in them, despite any evidence to the contrary. They both actively recruit followers, and I mean followers. They both try to subvert the existing social order in order to impose their own doctrine, and they are responsible for more wars and conflicts than the rest of human activities put together. Perhaps it doesn’t matter which of the two is dominant, and which is subservient, they are both equally destructive to society in their extreme forms.
Benign conspiracy theories are somewhat acceptable, if somewhat laughable at times. Flat Earth proponents and Area 51 disciples would be examples. Religions tend to be much more serious and therefore, much more dangerous, although, if they keep to themselves, and don’t bother other people, they can also be benign. However, have you ever met a religious fanatic of any denomination who didn’t try and convert you to their “true faith”, so “religiously benign” is almost certainly an oxymoron.
Come to think of it, the word “faith” is a pretty good term for describing both of these concepts. We all know that faith overrides logic, education and even, at times, survival instincts. Whether it is faith in Jesus Christ, or faith that the COVID 19 vaccine doesn’t work and that the pandemic doesn’t actually exist. Faith is an extraordinary concept that defies explanation on any rational level.
I looked up the definition in the Oxford English dictionary, and in Merrick-Webster’s Dictionary, just in case the U.S. definition varies from the U.K one. The result was, frankly, disappointing. The Oxford Dictionary defined it as follows:
1[uncountable] faith (in somebody/something) trust in someone’s ability or knowledge; trust that someone or something will do what has been promised I have great faith in you—I know you’ll do well. … Her friend’s kindness has restored her faith in human nature.
The Merrick-Webster’s Dictionary was a bit more convoluted, but similar. There are also a plethora of religious definitions which are equally as opaque. An example is:
FAITH means– belief, firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, faithfulness. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance that the lord is working, even though we cannot see it. Faith knows that no matter what the situation, in our lives or someone else’s that the lord is working in it.
The best one I found, at least from my perspective, was:
FAITH almost always implies certitude, even where there is no evidence or proof.
In other words, we don’t have a clue, probably because it’s a totally irrational concept.
The question therefore becomes: Why has virtually every human grouping throughout history felt to need to invent gods/religions/conspiracy theories and faith as binding concept for their societies.
Unfortunately, I wish I knew, in case you thought you were about to read a blindingly simple and erudite explanation. “It’s a mystery” is about the only logical conclusion.
However, this analysis should allow us to stop trying to find logical answers to people’s faith. It should, but it doesn’t, because, I guess, we like lost causes! Faith in religion, including the religion of the U.S. National Rifle Association, and faith in conspiracy theories are equally irrational, because there aren’t any logical explanations.
Faith, unfortunately, is not about to go away. History tells us that much. We just have to live with the idea, combat it where we can, but always stay vigilant against its more extreme proponents.
Here “endeth” the reading according to logic! I submit that religion is a conspiracy theory invented by man like all the other conspiracy theories.