Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conspiracy Theory

Put on your tinfoil hat! You know the story, someone in authority makes a claim and you don't believe it because of your own personal convictions. Experts come out and support the claim, but you still cannot believe it. People who would have an interest in discrediting the claim come out and support the claim, but you still will not believe it. Documents are produced that validate the claim, but you question if they are real. You are convinced there is more to the story.

In today's Internet Age, you can log in online to discussion forums, user groups, and social media pages to support any idea out there. So it doesn't take long to find others who believe like you do. They too do not believe the claims being made. In a virtual version of groupthink, you begin to believe these strangers, only because they subscribe to the same skepticism as you. So together you weave an elaborate explanation to dispute the claim. You have now come up with your own Conspiracy Theory.

This scenario played out in my mind when thinking about "birthers" and President Obama's claims regarding his nationality. Honestly, I haven't paid much attention to this debate. I figure if there was something to it, someone more credible than Donald Trump would come out exposing it. And so I read this article earlier in the week, mainly because I saw Trump's interview and couldn't believe my ears. I clicked the link more out of curiosity than expectation of any real "scoop".

The article follows the outline of the first paragraph: a claim is made by the President, experts validate the claim, and even someone who would have an interest in discrediting the claim comes out to support it. It's that last one, from then-governor of Hawaii, Republican Linda Lingle, that got my wheels turning. Here is the quote that got my attention:
"Why would a Republican governor — who was stumping for the other guy — hold out on a big secret?"
In a few days, Newsweek will put out their annual issue questioning some aspect of Christianity by interviewing some hand-picked "expert". It has become a tradition for them to release this issue right before Easter. There have been articles on Mary, the Jesus Seminar, the evolution of Christology to name a few. But I don't know if they have dared to tackle the biggest conspiracy theory of them all- the death, burial, and resurrection of this man called Jesus. Which is ironic, because that is what Christians celebrate Easter for in the first place.

There are many conspiracy theories one could attribute to the events 2000 years ago: the "swoon" theory, paying off the Roman guards, the Apostles stealing the body, questioning whether the events even happened at all.

But just like the birther claims, these theories fall apart when faced against expert testimony, documentation, and the inaction of those who would have an interest in squelching the claims. John's testimony that when Jesus' side was pierced blood and water flowed out, is consistent with what medical experts would expect to happen to someone suffering suffocation and heart failure. A fact John, nor anyone else at the time, would have had the knowledge to make up. The main characters of the story and the methods used are corroborated by historians. Josephus, a Jewish historian and Roman sympathizer, substantiated the events as described, including calling out Jesus by name, only a generation later. Most importantly, the Romans ruled over Jerusalem with an iron fist. If there was an uprising based on some false claim of someone coming back from the dead, they would've done everything possible to put an end to it with evidence to the contrary. Both the Romans and Jewish authorities responded to this fledgling religion called Christianity by putting to death anyone who claimed Jesus rose from the dead because that was the only way they could. They had no evidence to discredit the foundation of Christianity. Yet they were unsuccessful in covering up this conspiracy theory that remains two thousand years later. That's a lot of staying power for something that's not true. So maybe there's something to it.

"...blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29)


Glynn said...

I saw something tweeted the other day about the company I work for that was so off-the-wall and bizarre that it was hard to imagine anyone would believe that. The person tweeting it was a woman who runs a Christian ministry that does conferences and outreach (you probably know this is coming) to "help instill wisdom in women." In an email exchange, she said she read it on the internet.

I suggested that "discernment" might be one thing to consider when telling people about "wisdom."

Fatha Frank said...

Yeah I keep Snopes bookmarked just for certain people. It's funny when it's someone I respect for their Bible knowledge but bite on just about any hooks when it comes to politics.

The irony is that the political fringe Trump is placating to also includes the "Christian Right". So they expect others to follow a standard when it comes to religion that they won't apply to themselves with politics. Ok, off the soapbox.