Is Creationism the Ultimate Conspiracy Theory?

I’ve got one heck of a conspiracy theory for you. It goes like this: contrary to what scientists say, everything in the natural world exists because someone created it that way, not because it’s the result of evolution.

The idea that the natural world was deliberately designed to function the way it does is an example of teleological thinking. Teleological thinking posits that something exists because of the purpose it serves. Humans exist because they were made to do all the things that humans do. Cats exist because they were designed to catch mice. Cows exist in order to eat grass all day and go moo.

Creationism isn’t the only way of interpreting the world that draws on teleological thinking. Another example are conspiracy theories. There’s a certain similarity in saying that the world is like it is because someone designed it that way and saying that certain events happened because someone conspired to make them happen the way they did. In both cases, a hypothetical actor behind the scenes is controlling the course of reality so that it serves some purpose.

Practically, it’s not so hard to test the idea that there’s an overlap between creationism and conspiratorial thinking. Just get a bunch of people, find out which ones believe in creationism, see who puts stock in conspiracy theories, and then see how much those two groups overlap.

And that’s exactly what a group of researchers in France did in a study published this month in Current Biology. In a series of studies involving over 2,000 people, the researchers found that those who were more inclined to creationism were also more inclined to conspiracism, and teleological thinking was a key link between the two.

This remained true when the researchers took people’s age, level of education, political views and religious beliefs into account, among other factors. In other words, given two people with the same education, religion and political leanings, the one who puts more faith in teleological explanations is more likely to buy into both creationism and conspiracy theories on average.

It appears, then, that creationism and conspiratorial thinking overlap, especially insofar as both rely on teleological thinking. Of course, there’s an alternative explanation of these findings: it’s possible that this study never really happened, and the whole thing is just a conspiracy!

1 Comment

  1. Lauren Michelle Lynley on September 8, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    This is very poor quality writing and a badly-reasoned rant masquerading as a medical blog. I realise that there are many religious people who cannot reconcile God and evolution, but many others can and do. Also, conflating Flat-Earthers and those who believe in a First Cause/God is a fallacy despite what one small study in one country proffers.

    How many times have so-called conspiracy theorists actually uncovered rigged research studies that push drugs, particularly psychiatric drugs, that are either useless, or worse, cause a worsening of patient symptoms or the creation of new ones? A huge percentage of mass shootings are perpitrated by those of a psychiatric drug or used to take them. How about all of the horrific human and animal experimentation done in the name of reason and science that turned out worthless and left many dead or maimed in some way; and in the case of animals billions of tortured, broken corpses sacrificed to the gods of science? Furthermore, science as a general field is consistently operating under false premises, this is how understanding of complex problems comes to light over years, decades, and centuries.

    This is a nasty, snarky, anti-religion article with a pre-determined agenda. I was a reason-based follower of scientism for decades and still believe in logic and the scientific method though I have found room in my consciousness for the concept of God. But I also know that science has moved from acting as a tool to serve humanity to humanity serving as a tool to promote science.