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Can Leaving Your Faith Turn You Into A Conspiracy Theorist?


LookingGlass
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Well I was reading wikipedia's entry on "conspiracy theory" today. An interesting point it made was that people who believe in conspiracy theories are usually looking for meaning in life and tend to believe that coincidences are actually caused by the "powers that be." I was reading it because I've found myself obsessing over conspiracy theories for the past year or so. And it doesn't help that my husband is into that stuff. He showed me a video about the Illuminati and ever since then I have had it in my head that it might be true that people are secretly plotting to take over the world. Every day he's watching the news, and I always find some new "clue" on CNN that the plot is real. Today I was having a near-panic attack over it. But if I really thinking about it, I was taught to believe that there are no coincidences, and that everything happens for a reason. Combined with the fact that I am constantly searching for meaning in my life, I think that makes me a good candidate to believe in this or that theory about how the world works.

I'm really tired of worrying over something that has no solid evidence to back it up...I'd like to be calm for a change and not panicky. Has anyone else experienced this at all?

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Guest Marty

I feel sometimes that I am a borderline conspiracy theorist. I never made the connection about leaving religion though. Excellent idea! I do know that I was so pissed about being lied to about everything in the world that I started reading about everything in the world. It was like I tried to fill the holes in my knowledge, and maybe without a proper framework about certain things in history/politics, it can lead one to become a conspiracy theorist?

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There are no greater conspiracy theorists than Christians.

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You are not paranoid. Listen to the Christian rhetoric. 'One nation under God.' 'One world under Jesus.' The Christian funny-mental fascism is pointed at world domination. Don't forget these are the same warm and fuzzy bunch that ran the world during the Reformation and the Dark Ages! Don't let your church history be forgotten. The funny-mental fascists are just as dangerous and funny-mental Islamo-fascists.

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Our brains are wired to look for patterns. I believe it comes from the need to recognize what is safe and what is dangerous in our environment. Whn we se hles n wrds our brains fill in those holes with what is supposed to be there. We find certain shapes pleasing to the eye and structures safe or hazardous to our well being.

 

In my idiotic opinion I believe that that same wiring affects every portion of our thinking mind to the point where we will look for meaning or causation in systems around us. I also believe that is why we are so susceptible to memes and conspiracy theories.

 

After I became a rogue heretic I studied the evolution of religions in the middle east and the later development of the mega church state system in Rome. My theory is that Constantine and his minions recognized what Marx would later say was an opiate for the masses. I believe they discovered that with the number of xtian converts after 3 centuries the State could wield the power of religion to keep the masses in a controllable swoon. Obviously, it worked then and is working even better today as we now have hundreds of generations of minds that have been rewired to accept the idea of religion, the notion that there exists a "god-sized empty hole" in each of us.

 

This has turned into a bit of a rabbit trail, sorry. But I believe that that empty hole is the inquisitive part of our mind that needs to have some big questions answered. Why is the sky blue? God made it that way. Why do the trees lose their leaves in Autumn? God's design. Why pay taxes and submit to authority without question? God said so in his WORD. See how easy that is? Why search for reality when the guy in the black robes can tell you about it? Why ask why?

 

Meh, methinks we're all conspiracy theorists to a degree. Some become so obsessed with conspiracy that it becomes an illness.

 

Why are we here? Because we're here. Roll the bones.

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I'd say being of faith can also do the same thing, or being extremely superstitious.

 

My world got much more rational when I left literal Christianity, because I was no longer trying to pretzel my brain believing in illusions and contradictions.

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There are no greater conspiracy theorists than Christians.

 

Ding ding ding! We have a winna!

 

I totally agree with that. Xians...especially the ones really into End Times bullshit...are the biggest conspiracy theorists around.

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Why are we here? Because we're here. Roll the bones.

You're quickly becoming one of my favorite newbies. :P

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Our brains are wired to look for patterns. I believe it comes from the need to recognize what is safe and what is dangerous in our environment. Whn we se hles n wrds our brains fill in those holes with what is supposed to be there. We find certain shapes pleasing to the eye and structures safe or hazardous to our well being.

 

You sound like me.

 

I'd add that after one deconverts there is a tendency to think everyone is taking you for a ride so you start distrusting everything and start assigning motivations to observations.

 

That said, I am going to don a tin foil hat and argue that there may be something to some conspiracy theories. No, the world bank is not a puppet of the Rothchilds and no a missile didn't hit the pentagon. OTH, we are getting screwed by a corporate elite and there really does appear to be a good ol' boys club in charge of the SEC/Fed/Treasury. It's not a vast secret conspiracy but it is certainly something.

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The only thing leaving the borg does is make you realize how easily the masses can be dupped into accepting bullshit. Conspiracy theories may or may not follow.

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He showed me a video about the Illuminati and ever since then I have had it in my head that it might be true that people are secretly plotting to take over the world.

pinky_brain.jpg

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That pic in your post Raul reminds me of that one episode of Pinky And The Brain where Brain was trying to take over the world by tricking Moses into writing the 11th commandment, that thou shalt obey Brain.

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OTH, we are getting screwed by a corporate elite and there really does appear to be a good ol' boys club in charge of the SEC/Fed/Treasury. It's not a vast secret conspiracy but it is certainly something.

 

 

Even more frightening than the idea of the conspiracy theory is that , it seems, that nobody in charge knows WTF they are doing!

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Possibly the single most potent force that drove me to seek concrete evidence for everything (that Christians so hate) was the high levels of suspicion and superstition that my parents applied to everything in life--not only religious stuff. Coincidence was evidence of God's existence, according to my mother. The phase of the moon was responsible for the weather, according to my father. The government was out to get us (conspiracy theory), according to the church.

 

Wow, writing that last sentence puts me in touch with a deep terror. I see myself as a child back in the old kitchen in the sixties and hear my parents' discussing the world situation in frightened tones.

 

If I put it in historical context, I understand why they are frightened. They grew up during World War II. Their childhood memories barely go back to before WW2 started. And it lasted most of their childhood. Many and many a dinner conversation of my childhood centres on their childhood memories of The War. They blank out the terror; what I get is the glory of war. I get the impression that the world is not complete if one does not live through a war so I seek for a war to make my own childhood complete. Finally, I learn about the Vietnam War, but it doesn't quite match The War because there are no drills on the highway outside our school and no army planes fly low over the countryside. Nor are our young men drafted or forced to go to work camps.

 

However, the sixties were right in the thick of the Cold War and the terror of a Commie takeover was real. It was palpable. You could almost cut it with a knife. This is what my parents feared; it is what the church feared. It was also during this time that more Mennonite history was unearthed--how the European State Churches had persecuted our forebears before we came to North America. Living memory told horror stories of how the Mennonites had been hounded out of the USSR when the Red Army (Communists) took over only a few short decades earlier. Stalin may have been dead by the time I was born but just barely.

 

When I took a history course at the secular university, I learned that the "Red scare" was not just a Mennonite thing, it was very wide-spread. The prof talked about the fear of a "Red behind every tree, under every bed." He said it so that it rhymed but I forget how. In such an atmosphere, it was easy for Tim LaHaye to sell books like his Left Behind series. In sociology, they say fundamentalist religion thrives when people feel socially unstable. The other day I was reading church history about the Byzantine Church. It had been a fairly open-minded, liberal, and educated church from the apostles up to the Ottoman Empire. But under the Ottoman Empire, things changed because of religious oppression. The sultan, or whoever, appointed the Patriarch for the Church, and a new one kept being appointed every few years. Suddenly, religion became strict and fundamentalist. I guess it was the only thing people could depend on the remain the same. We all know what happens to organizations where top leadership keeps changing and is basically unstable. The organization as a whole suffers. That is what I saw.

 

Apply that to the 20th century West, esp. North America, or the US. Right after the war, during the fifties, the churches were full and expanding. But then the sixties came and people stopped going to church. As stated above, it was also the time of the Red Scare. Scholars have pointed out that certain kinds of churches emptied out. Other kinds of churches began to grow, and expand, and become more politically active. By about 1970, the Religious Right came onto the scene.

 

I could patch together a lot more stuff to make my argument even stronger but I haven't done sufficient research to know if it all hangs together historically and sociologically so I better leave it. It just seems as though the argument could be made that some of the conspiracy theory we see among fundamentalist religion today may be self-fulfilling prophecy as a result from the Red Scare. People think god is the only solid thing.

 

All these natural explanations for the things as they exist help reduce the fear and terror. So no, I think leaving religion liberated me from conspiracy theories. Christians accuse me of such fears but I don't know where they get their ideas. Maybe they are projecting their own fears onto me? Given that they think every atheist is out to get them, that would stand to reason....

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I agree with a lot that's been said. You people on this forum are awesome. :)

 

Regarding conspiracy theories: bear in mind, that as humans we ALL tend to look for "shortcuts" that help us explain the immense complexity of our environment. You must learn to adamantly distrust this tendency because it is consistently wrong. There are no shortcuts. History happens from the bottom up, and is not the result of a few powerful, snickering, white-haired Republican rich dudes pulling the strings.

 

I do see a connection between people who have left their faith and those who might be drawn to conspiracy theories.

 

We are drawn to conspiracies because they create a vague framework (just like Xtianity) that serve as a backdrop for us to to reflect our confusion against. Since the framework is vague, and in the shadows, it provides for an amorphous cause that is similar to how "God works in mysterious ways." The two are very similar with you think of it. Example: why do American values conflict so dramatically with our actions? This complex problem confuses us, and disappoints us, so the answer of "It's a conspiracy!" becomes a comforting solution that provides us with a clear villain with unclear tactics.

 

There is no villain. We are the villain.

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Well I was reading wikipedia's entry on "conspiracy theory" today. An interesting point it made was that people who believe in conspiracy theories are usually looking for meaning in life and tend to believe that coincidences are actually caused by the "powers that be." I was reading it because I've found myself obsessing over conspiracy theories for the past year or so. And it doesn't help that my husband is into that stuff. He showed me a video about the Illuminati and ever since then I have had it in my head that it might be true that people are secretly plotting to take over the world. Every day he's watching the news, and I always find some new "clue" on CNN that the plot is real. Today I was having a near-panic attack over it. But if I really thinking about it, I was taught to believe that there are no coincidences, and that everything happens for a reason. Combined with the fact that I am constantly searching for meaning in my life, I think that makes me a good candidate to believe in this or that theory about how the world works.

I'm really tired of worrying over something that has no solid evidence to back it up...I'd like to be calm for a change and not panicky. Has anyone else experienced this at all?

If it has no solid evidence to back it up, than I would do the same thing that you've done with the god-concept...disregard it.

 

I'm not a conspiracy theorist.

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OTH, we are getting screwed by a corporate elite and there really does appear to be a good ol' boys club in charge of the SEC/Fed/Treasury. It's not a vast secret conspiracy but it is certainly something.

 

 

Even more frightening than the idea of the conspiracy theory is that , it seems, that nobody in charge knows WTF they are doing!

 

It seems to be a good mix for the banks. The banks know what they are doing and the gov doesn't have a clue/and or the banks have gotten a foothold into several important gov positions. E.g., the last SEC chair was a Goldman Sachs exec (I haven't paid attention to see if a new rep has been appointed). Banks have been playing all kinds of games that the SEC has overlooked. How convenient.

 

It doesn't take a secret guarded conspiracy to bilk the public when the laws and the vehicles are as complex as the banking laws and derivatives. And when you have a government for sale to the highest bidder you are going to get people who use it to take advantage of the tax payers.

 

I think it's healthy for people to be at least reasonably wary that someone might be fooling them in some shape or form. It's not paranoia if it's true. The logical difficulty here for the skeptic is that just because there are obvious BS CT's out there doesn't mean that they aren't being conspired against in some form or another.

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I spent the first 25 years of my life as a non-religious person not caring about god, etc. Then I was "born again" and spent the next 17 years as a Christian, becoming a pastor and a missionary. I can safely say that I never thought much about conspiracies for that first 25 years, despite all the movies I saw that had some form of conspiracy within them (to make the movie exciting), reading this or that, etc. However, it was during my years as a Christian that I heard about conspiracies left and right. Some where "Christian" conspiracies. For example, there were supposed conspiracies to keep the truth of the Gospel from going forth and of the church being persecuted here in the good, ol' USA. But eventually I would hear about things like the Illuminati, the EU trying to form a 10 nation confederacy to dominate the world, the conspiracy to plant tracking devices in every man, woman and child so that the Beast from Revelation could track everyone (the supposed "mark of the Beast"). It was once I was within Christianity that I found Christian books that supposedly exposed the demonic plans of the Rockefellers, The Rothchilds and others. It was within Christianity that I supposedly learned of the vast, dark secret plots of the Masons and how even George Washington was a Mason and how this secret society had their own plans for world domination. On and on it went. More and more was laid on by the pastors within the pulpits and from books published and sold in Christian book stores.

 

No, if there is any group on planet earth that is seeking after conspiracies, it is the Christian, not the atheist/agnostic person. They eat it up and look for any link to a current event and the End Times spoken of in Matthew and Revelation.

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For me, it's made me less of a conspiracy theorist. My mom and my grandma are very anxious people, so I was kind of raised to be anxious and to react to everything off-the-cuff without thinking. That carried over into things that I would read on the news, things I would hear about from other people, etc. Anytime I would see some article on the internet or watch the news or hear some story from someone, my mind would immediately jump to the worst scenario possible and I would freak out. I still do this from time to time just because it's ingrained in me (like in the thread here on people being able to bring licensed handguns into parks in TN), but now that I've pulled away from the faith and no longer believe in supernatural entities, I'm a lot more skeptical. I no longer just react and fly off the handle; I step back and consider the information, the implications of the information, and the source of the information.

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He showed me a video about the Illuminati and ever since then I have had it in my head that it might be true that people are secretly plotting to take over the world.

pinky_brain.jpg

 

:lmao::lmao: :lmao:

 

Thank you soo much, I really needed that. :D

 

It's realy interesting to see the different viewpoints about how this subject relates to christianity...I can now see there's a stong link between believing in invisible, powerful forces beyond your control and...well....believing in invisible, powerful forces beyond your control. :) It all goes along the same string of thought and some experience it either during or after their religious experience, or maybe not at all. It goes to show that everyone's deconversion is different.

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