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A conspiracy against truth

Andrew T. Walker | Christians should give no quarter to falsehoods

Amy Schneider on the set of Jeopardy! Associated Press/Jeopardy Productions Inc.

A conspiracy against truth
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Merriam-Webster defines a conspiracy theory as a “theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.” Well, that sounds interesting.

There are numerous conspiracy theories related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The factualness of Kennedy’s death is (generally) not in dispute—but how it came to be is, according to conspiracy theorists. The London School of Economics reports that nearly 60 percent of Americans believe Kennedy’s assassination was part of some conspiracy.

In my view, Merriam-Webster’s definition is not adequate—at least in terms of how conspiracy theories are used in today’s vernacular. Now, conspiracy theories are also thought to traffic in claims that are generally both bizarre and false (for example, QAnon).

Let me offer an alternative definition: A conspiracy theory is a theory for how an alleged set of bizarre circumstances came to be or how obvious falsehoods gained mass acceptance due to the work of powerful actors. We ought to reject conspiracy theories, like any other truth claim, when they are false or unsustainable. If a claim cannot hold up to investigation, we are obligated to abandon it.

Today, there are a number of conspiracy theories associated with the political right that deserve scorn and rebuke by those peddling them. Conservatism champions the conservation of truth. If it’s not true, it should be exposed as false.

But what about the liberal temptation to conspiracy theories? Take, for example, last week’s headline in The New York Times that read, “Amy Schneider Becomes First Woman to Surpass $1 Million on ‘Jeopardy!’” Amy Schneider is, of course, not a woman. Schneider identifies as a transgender woman, meaning Schneider is without question a biological male. Our newspaper of record merely glosses over this fact and intends for the reader to buy the underlying headline. That’s about as false a premise as might be imagined.

We cannot be a society organized around lies.

Biological males do not become females by a sheer act of will or verbal declaration. Males can never become females and females cannot become males. Their own thinking about themselves does not reconfigure their genetics. Individuals struggling with gender identity deserve our compassion, not our indulging of their confusion.

The psychologization and politicization of gender are not just at odds with our biology, they have disastrous social consequences. For one thing, women are simply erased. The New York Times engaged in an act of female erasure by noting that Schneider was the first “woman” to amass that sum on Jeopardy!. Or, take the recent example of the University of Pennsylvania swimmer who is biologically male but identifies as a female and is smashing female competitors? In both examples, we see men robbing women of things that are owed to women. To deny something to someone who is owed it has a definition: injustice. That is what today’s leftist conspiracy theories concerning gender are doing under the self-serving guise of the left’s own unchecked power.

The hypocrisy of our ruling class reaches no higher zenith than on occasions like this. The champions of social justice, equality, fairness, and feminism contradict each with the self-deluded lies they peddle to those who they believe will listen with supple attention. Denouncing conspiracies, they traffic in their own. The only difference between the conspiracy theories of the left from the right is that the ones from the left are buoyed by political correctness and often entertained by the media. The conspirators in this instance are a powerful confluence of media, academic, legal, and entertainment forces that mutually reinforce one another’s narrative in service to progressive power structures. Power at the expense of truth is a notorious play of ideologues.

In terms of creation knowledge, everyone knows the transgender narrative is false. As one of my friends often says, “If you can get society to believe a man can become a woman, you can get society to believe anything.”

But never go along with the madness of crowds. Not only are we encountering Orwellian power grabs, but we are also undermining the dignity of womanhood and threatening the common good of society. We cannot be a society organized around lies.

Christianity is a worldview of truthful assertion. Ours is a public faith whose claims are open to rigorous interrogation, which is what a worldview confident in its claims allows for. We give no quarter to conspiracy or falsehood. Claims to truth must cohere internally and correspond to reality. The worldview of gender fluidity does neither. The New York Times may not tell you that, but Christianity will.

I reject conspiracy theories, whether of the right or on the left. So should you. Let’s conspire to honor the truth.

Andrew T. Walker

Andrew T. Walker is the managing editor of WORLD Opinions and serves as associate professor of Christian ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. He resides with his family in Louisville, Ky.


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Big Jim

XX = girl
XY = boy


Thank you, I couldn't agree MORE! I'm a regular viewer of Jeopardy, and have marveled and appreciated Amy Schneider's success. Nonetheless, it has never been lost on me that it is a male brain underneath that sweet smile.
I have worked and socialized with Gay and Trans folks often since 1972; I respect the courage it takes to attempt the transition, but, from close quarters I must say, one can "run" from their biology, but you can't "hide" from it. I'm Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, but outside of church discipline, I will not judge. The need for all is to have Christ Jesus first.
As for an argument for "fluidity," pure nonsense. Ask the admitting nurse the next time you need a physical!


Issues surrounding transgenderism are more complex than you suggest. For example, the NYT did not say that Amy Schneider is the first female to win over one million dollars. They would have thought that would be wrong. Instead, they are using a more nuanced meaning for the word "woman." If we take the word "woman" to mean a person who "self-identifies as a female," would they be wrong? Self-identification is commonplace. People self-identify as Republicans, Democrats, or Yankee fans. They (and others) have shifted the kind of category that "woman" has previously been. Under this new understanding of the term, self-identification is both necessary (and perhaps) sufficient to constitute being a woman. As such, your objections are moot.

More to the point, you make no effort to flesh out why someone would want to make this move. Language is fluid and the shifting of meanings of words commonplace. Why they happen is interesting and probably important. To me it seems plain that the move is associated with what Rieff referred to as the triumph of the therapeutic. It would have been useful to have explored the underlying current of such movements.


I totally disagree with this more nuanced meaning for words. The end result is going to be confusion and a lack of communication if the meaning of words becomes fluid. This is a perfect case in point, as the use of the word “women” by the New York Times was meant to deceive the reader into believing that the man in question has become a women.


There is likely for confusion to abound with the changing meaning of any word or concept. Consider the word "gay." Nietzsche's work Die Froliche Wissenschaft used to be titled "The Gay Science." Now that it is too confusing for modern readers so it is now called The Joyful Wisdom (Wissenschaft really should be science).

The point is that over time changing meaning of words becomes cemented and the confusion is forgotten, like with the word "happy," which originally was associated with "hap" meaning chance. When someone says that they are happy, we don't immediately associate that with chance, although we might find some coherence with the word "lucky." Being happy dates back to the Middle Ages where our lives were influenced in this sublunar sphere by Fortune.

Words and concepts change meanings over time. It has been going on since the beginning. The word "woman" as some kind of self-identification (like being a Yankee fan) may or may not stick, but it is possible. And even if it isn't the word "woman" there may be introduced a new word or a new use of another word that will carry the same notion. I'm going to guess that transgender people have been among us a very long time. They just didn't necessarily have the language to speak about it (unless it has been underground).

I've listened enough to this gender-related conversation to know that male/female is regarded by many to be distinct from man/woman; and that is to say that "sex" is different from "gender." So I'm pretty sure that the NYT knew this when they wrote their piece. As such, they could say that she was a "woman" without saying that she was a "female." What is more, their readers would know this.

David RasmussonDakotaLutheran

If the New York Times were sticklers for accuracy, they could have described Amy Schneider as "the first male contestant who identifies as a woman to win a million dollars". Amy's accomplishment is impressive, but by expecting the public to nod along in agreement, the New York Times just cancelled the previous Jeopardy! accomplishment made by an actual biological female.

DakotaLutheranDavid Rasmusson

I'm not so sure the NYT is a "stickler for accuracy." I've dinged them many times in the past for not being so. I was only indicating that they could plausibly be judged to stating the truth, given a certain understanding of the term "woman," which they presumably subscribe to. I don't disagree that they made a big deal about this for "political" reasons, meaning more specifically that Amy "identifies as transgender." If Amy were a female, it likely would have been less important to the NYT.

Mamma PeachDakotaLutheran

If "woman" ceases to designate "female" then what am I, what are we who have two X chromosomes? Are we not being erased from the language altogether except as some "scientific" designation? Do we no longer have a place as what we are? That would be the end result of this.

DakotaLutheranMamma Peach

Not sure I understand the question. As I understand it, you can be both a female and a woman, but you cannot be a male and a female at the same time. This understanding does not say that ONLY transgender men can be women. It is suggesting an understanding of "women" such that females, as well as males, can be "women." For their understanding it is like saying that someone who is a fan of basketball can be a midget. It doesn't mean that they can perform the tasks of basketball player. The requirement of being a fan is self-determined.
I can understand how women might feel threatened by this proposed understanding of womenhood. Indeed, it almost appears like a form of male domination, in which men even take over being a women.
Were it me, and this attitude prevails, I would stop using the word women and men, and begin referring only to females and males. There are only male and female bathrooms and male and female sports.

Mamma PeachDakotaLutheran

Being a woman is far more than reproductive organs, and a man can not be one. The same is true for a man. Perhaps you would not mind only being referred to as male and not a man, as if being a man is something that is debatable, non-definable, a mere superficial construct that has no real meaning, but I do mind. Woman literally means "wife-person", designating the potential of a female in marriage. I guess in this day and age any thing can be a "wife", even non-human or non-living things, but that beggars reality. To say that womanhood also encompasses that which is not truly a woman, but only outwardly pretending to be one, likewise makes the word meaningless and erases the whole concept from the English language. And it is to be replaced by what? It is replaced by a a cold clinical word that simply designates physiological form, like something on a petri dish.

DakotaLutheranMamma Peach

You need to understand that I am not advocating this change in meaning. I am merely attempting to explicate it. I doubt that in practice the term "woman" will change its meaning from what you indicate. It will likely only be altered from what you indicate in a tiny subclass of contexts, viz., when speaking of transgender men, which until recently never came up.


Conspiracy theories should be evaluated on an individual basis in regards to the facts, rather than being blanket judged by the label 'conspiracy theory' that is often used to discredit a statement without taking any actual evidence into account. We are to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, and judging a matter before we hear it makes us neither.


I see where "conspiracy" could be a label that is used as a weapon to silence a legitimate concern. However, the examples that were mentioned are lacking evidence. This makes it difficult to find evidence to take into account. I think the point for me is that these non-truths are generated on both sides on the aisle. If we are all honest, we find ourselves feeling it is much more easy to repeat/believe what we want to hear verses taking the time to search and think about the truth


"I see where 'conspiracy' could be a label that is used as a weapon to silence a legitimate concern. " I couldn't agree more. My only further comment is that sometimes there are conspiracy theories, and sometimes there really are conspiracies. We ignore that reality at our peril.