Religion and conspiracy theory
Posted by robertpriddy on February 26, 2010
The greatest and most accepted conspiracy theories are not just at the fringe of mainstream discussion. They are found in the religions of the world. That an invisible, insubstantial, incorporeal, unknowable, omnipotent, totally unaccountable person, with a vast hierarchy of disembodied helpers, is behind almost everything otherwise unexplained that happens on earth, should surely qualify as the prototype of all conspiracy theory.
It is prototypical because of its very ancient roots in early prehistory. The idea of a monotheistic God – I submit – eventually developed from a host of attempts to explain the apparent contingency of events on earth… the weather, illnesses, accidents, illnesses, death, birth, the impenetrable sky and volcanic fires and so on ad. inf.
Dreams gave rise to the idea of spirit beings, from which arose worship of ancestors, animals, images, objects as idols… As these ideas clashed and were inadequate to explain or bring about desired results in the dawning light of wider understanding, they were superceded by more general deities – and out of the long historical clashes of warring sects then national beliefs, pantheistic and/or monotheistic Gods arose and the mainstream religions took them in hand, so to speak, and theologised them further… always more and more abstracted until nothing corporeal could be involved.
In essence, the idea that a clandestine intelligent power is conspiring to control us cannot be taken further to excess than is done by the mainstream religions – with the exception of some forms of Buddhism and other lesser known teaching. While some conspiracy theories have actually be proved to be substantially true, what we can tag as ‘the Divinity Conspiracy’ can – by its very nature – never be proved to be true. Nor can it be definitively proven to be untrue, though the likelihood of it being true can be shown to be minimal. This likelihood increases all the time as science advances, providing genuine and testable explanations for more and more of the phenomena originally considered to be mysterious, miraculous, impenetrable, and so wondrous as to be forever beyond human comprehension.
The theory of evolution, having expanded its database vastly in a matter of a mere 200 years, which is developing at an ever-increasing pace, gives answer to enigmas that were previously unsolvable throughout human history. Religions, appealing to ancient scriptures, (and largely distorted and often censored) have been bolstered up by flawed speculation of a theological and mystical kind appealing to awe for the supposed ‘creation’ by an uncreated Creator – all at the expense of serious investigation.
The understanding of genetics which hardly got anywhere before the 1950s with Crick and Watson, is also racing ahead exponentially, confirming and deepening the understanding of the evolution of life. Neurological research is answering more and more of the enigmas about the human brain/mind and the subjective phenomena it can produce. The religious belief in mystical revelation or ‘cosmic consciousness’ is itself increasingly being shown to consist in phenomena due to functions or dysfunctions of the brain alone.