Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Conspiracy Theory

Many today are obsessed with conspiracy theories. They believe that hidden from view those with great power and influence manipulate everything for their personal gain. Behind wars, economic disasters, disease lies the guiding hand of an unseen group of politicians and bankers who really rule the world. They think there is a double-game; a powerful group of kingmakers and breakers meeting in secluded luxury to decide the fate of the world; that they are not being told the truth; that something deeper is going on.

We humans will never be satisfied until we can explain everything and remove every mystery. Science has also got into the act with the search for theories that explain everything and the quest for the end of inquiry. Philosophers have also sought to find great forces that cause the changes that we see around us. Karl Marx theorized that class warfare was the driving force. Adam Smith believed in the invisible hand that guided human commerce. In addition, we think the explanation will boil down at its core to some overriding cause or principle behind everything.

Today, we want to see that cause as something physical or material and not metaphysical such as an omnipotent God. Indeed, religion and Christianity in particular, are theorized to be great conspiracy theories at their heart. The wildly popular novel the Da Vinci Code, purported to expose a conspiracy to conceal the fact that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene. Even though numerous authorities have exposed this theory to be pure hokum, more than eighty million people have read this book.

Why do we look for a cause that links everything together? What if instead of a hidden group in control of everything, there is no one pulling the strings. Chaos. Every man and woman for his or herself? Frightening? Definitely. But we don’t think like that.

The Bible provides an answer why we have this sense of something deeper going on. That reality is not all that meets the eye. The Bible presents a world where there is an unseen spiritual dimension that determines what occurs in the physical world.

In the movie the Matrix, the hero Neo has an inkling that there is more to life than his hum-drum existence as a corporate cubicle-clone. Neo’s eyes are opened after he comes into contact with Morpheus and his cohorts. The grey everyday world in which he has existed was a sham all along. This movie exploits the familiar feeling that surely this can’t be all there is.

Plato described this feeling as living in a cave sitting in front of a fire watching shadows on the cave wall made by people and objects that pass the entrance of the cave. He claimed that like the cave dwellers we only see shadows of reality in our everyday existence and not the true reality that exists outside of the cave.

Some might argue that one day science will demystify this sense of the spiritual. But this claim is profoundly unscientific. Science deals with what can and has been proved. So until science proves this spiritual sense away, this argument has no power. To claim it is an answer is to make science a religion.

This idea that for all we know, our everyday physical world is a shadow of something greater, obviously has legs. Plato’s cave allegory and the Matrix are separated by over two thousand years. The sense that we live our lives in monochrome while a technicolor universe lies hidden behind every curtain - from time to time brilliantly shining through to expose the drabness of the quotidian - has not diminished since ancient times. Try as we might we can’t seem to shake the sense there is something else happening on a greater stage.

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