Super Bowl conspiracy theories and COVID-19 vaccines: The urgency of reason for our culture and our faith

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates late in the the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, Saturday, January 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wis. The Buccaneers beat the Packers 31-26. (Todd Rosenberg via AP)
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Did the NFL arrange for Tom Brady to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and for his team to play in their home stadium in Sunday’s Super Bowl to hike ratings? Did the league arrange for the Kansas City Chiefs to play in the game for the same reason? Has Tom Brady been colluding with NFL referees for years? Do some teams lose on purpose to improve their draft position?

If you believe any of these conspiracy theories, what evidence would convince you that you’re wrong? 

From football to the real world: devotees of the QAnon conspiracy theory have been arrested for murder, kidnapping, terrorism, vandalizing churches, derailing a train, and threatening public officials. Protesters claiming that coronavirus is not real and that vaccines are dangerous recently shut down a mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. 

According to a new study by Lifeway Research, 49 percent of Protestant pastors in the US say they frequently hear members of their congregation repeat conspiracy theories. Today, we will examine one such theory, then we will use it as a case study to emphasize the urgency of reason for our culture and our faith. 

Will COVID-19 vaccines contain a “quantum dot tattoo” microchip? 

So far, no one who has taken a COVID-19 vaccine has died or been hospitalized due to the virus. Nonetheless, the internet is filled with claims that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous. According to one report, 31 million people follow anti-vaccine groups on Facebook. 

One such theory works like this: 

The vaccines use an “implantable quantum dot microneedle delivery system” that leaves the microneedle tip permanently in your body. The vaccine also marks you with a permanent “quantum dot” using an enzyme called Luciferase. Bill Gates is behind the “quantum dot tattoo” microchip, which will be essential for receiving digital currency that enables you to buy and sell. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will be authorized for contact tracing, which means government agents will come into your house, test you, and quarantine you. The mRNA technology used in some coronavirus vaccines changes your DNA, making the implant permanent. 

Microsoft’s patent application enabling your microchip to communicate with the cryptocurrency system is numbered WO 2020/060606 A1; WO stands for “world order,” while “060606” points to 666, the biblical “mark of the beast” (Revelation 13:18). The congressional bill related to contact tracing is HR 6666, another reference to the mark of the beast. (I have not linked to websites making these claims since I do not want to advance them.) 

Are COVID-19 vaccines the “mark of the beast”? 

Here are the facts: 

A vaccination needle has been developed that dissolves while leaving a dye pattern that would record a patient’s vaccination history. This dye is still under development. It would be used to help doctors know a patient’s medical history, which would be especially relevant in times of emergency. This research has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. 

However, there are no plans to use this technology for coronavirus vaccines. It does not use microchips. Due to the physical properties of the ink, it could not possibly be used as a tracking device or to communicate with cryptocurrency technology. The mRNA technology used by some coronavirus vaccines never enters the nucleus of our cells and thus cannot affect or alter our DNA. The light-emitting enzyme luciferase takes its name from the Latin word for “light-bearing,” not the devil. 

Patent numbers are randomly assigned; WO/2020/060606 A1 has not yet been granted. “WO” is short for WIPO, indicating that the patent will be administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization. The congressional contact tracing bill would enable local organizations to hire and pay people to operate mobile testing units and conduct voluntary contact tracing; it does not authorize the government to enter homes, forcibly test, or remove people to be quarantined. 

And the biblical “mark of the beast” is to be placed “on the right hand or the forehead” (Revelation 13:16) where it is visible, not implanted on the upper arm as an invisible dot or microchip. 

In short, not one element of this vaccination conspiracy theory is true. 

Is Christianity reasonable? 

However, many who believe this conspiracy will dismiss every response and linked source I just provided. In their view, the scientists, physicians, and investigators I cited have themselves been deceived by the conspirators or are part of the conspiracy. 

In other words, their position is unfalsifiable—no evidence will persuade them that they are wrong. Here’s the problem: as philosopher Antony Flew has shown, a truth claim which cannot be falsified is not a truth claim. It is an opinion but not a statement of fact, a verdict that applies clearly to the vaccine conspiracy theory we have discussed today. 

Flew also believed that his falsification argument shows religious statements to be opinion rather than truth claims. However, he was wrong: as Paul noted clearly, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The resurrection of Jesus is the factual and objective foundation upon which our faith stands. 

Furthermore, the larger Christian worldview rests on historical facts and objective evidence that stand the test of scrutiny. Whether the question is the existence of God, the existence and deity of Jesus, the trustworthiness of Scripture, or the veracity of miracles, the evidence is clear and compelling. 

What God wants “in first-class fighting trim” 

We should submit all truth claims to reason (cf. Acts 17:17) and biblical revelation (cf. Acts 17:11). I will say more about this fact next week in the context of conspiracy theories. For today, know that God values the intelligence that is his gift to us (cf. Isaiah 1:18Daniel 5:142 Peter 1:5). 

As C. S. Lewis noted, our Lord “wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim.” 

Are you loving God “with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37)?

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