Conspiracy theories have long fascinated people, particularly when there are a large set of unknowns involved. Sadly, many Christians tend to get taken in by such conspiracy theories, and even some popular preachers use their pulpits to promote interest in such talk.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic, caused by a tiny virus, COVID-19, provides fertile ground for growing conspiracy theories. The conspiracy theory I hear the most these days is the idea that the virus was bioengineered in a Chinese lab, located at Wuhan, where the outbreak started, in late 2019.
As with all conspiracy theories, there is always a grain of truth. Yes, there is a biomedical lab in Wuhan. Yes, the Chinese authorities did not immediately address the crisis, when it first started, thus allowing COVID-19 infections to spread rapidly. But was the virus somehow leaked out of a biomedical lab, either accidentally, or even worse, intentionally?
Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, and an outspoken follower of Jesus Christ, wrote a blog recently, outlining research that demonstrates that COVID-19 was not an intentional product of bioengineering. Rather, COVID-19 arose naturally. Here is a snippet from Collins’ blog, describing some of the results from the research:
- “Existing computer models predicted that the new coronavirus would not bind to ACE2 as well as the SARS virus. However, to their surprise, the researchers found that the spike protein of the new coronavirus actually bound far better than computer predictions, likely because of natural selection on ACE2 that enabled the virus to take advantage of a previously unidentified alternate binding site. Researchers said this provides strong evidence that that new virus was not the product of purposeful manipulation in a lab. In fact, any bioengineer trying to design a coronavirus that threatened human health probably would never have chosen this particular conformation for a spike protein……
- …..this study leaves little room to refute a natural origin for COVID-19. And that’s a good thing because it helps us keep focused on what really matters: observing good hygiene, practicing social distancing, and supporting the efforts of all the dedicated health-care professionals and researchers who are working so hard to address this major public health challenge.”
Read the whole blog article for more details.
… and while you are at it, encourage your fellow Christians to show a little more skepticism when it comes to propagating conspiracy theories. In the meantime, wash your hands, continue your “social distancing,” and pray that a safe, reliable vaccine becomes available soon.
April 11th, 2020 at 11:03 pm
Francis Collins addresses this question on a BioLogos podcast:
April 15th, 2020 at 1:37 pm
Joel Duff, at the Natural Historian, highlights the details on COVID-19, where it came from, and how it might be defeated:
His conclusions regarding the origin of COVID-19 are well-established among scientists today:
“A large fraction of the American public seems to believe the virus circulating today was either made in a lab or the result of an accident in a lab. Is this possible or reasonable?
Possible as an accident? Yes. Likely? No. The result of bioengineering? Almost certainly not. Numerous scientists have examined the genome structure of the new viral strain and concluded that the virus is naturally formed (Anderson et al 2020, Tang et al 2020). The fact that very similar strains of virus are in natural populations of bats, pangolins and possibly canines (Xia 2020) and the knowledge that natural transfers from animals to humans have been successful at least six times in the past should place the burden of proof on those that make these claims.”
April 17th, 2020 at 8:08 am
It still amazes me just how many Christians buy into the idea that China bioengineered (intentionally) COVID-19. Yesterday, we had the first report that China’s GDP suffered its worst drop in 2020, since Chairman Mao died, in the 1970s. The thought that China intentionally purposed to sink its own economy, in order to engage in biological warfare with outside countries, like the United States, is really, really hard to fathom. Communists want economic prosperity, not self-destruction, would they not?
April 17th, 2020 at 8:43 am
Apparently, the latest conspiracy theories are surrounding this video, by Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, where he predicted something like the coronavirus epidemic, back in 2015:
April 18th, 2020 at 5:04 pm
Interesting study on how COVID-19 passes on:
April 18th, 2020 at 5:06 pm
The John Hopkins mapping site for collecting data on COVID-19. This is probably the best source of data, available to the public:
April 18th, 2020 at 11:25 pm
April 25th, 2020 at 7:39 am
The President says he was being “sarcastic” when he brought this up. But why did he even frame it this way?
May 5th, 2020 at 10:16 pm
Joel Richardson, who is a futurist, who believes in a future Islamic antichrist, is not someone I whole heartedly endorse. But at least he offers some sanity for those who are convinced by a futurist eschatology. We differ on some points, but I am very thankful that Joel nevertheless keeps a level head on these things:
May 8th, 2020 at 5:23 pm
Come on, folks! Enough with the conspiracy theories!
May 18th, 2020 at 4:40 pm
Can anyone make sense of what Pompeo is saying here?
June 8th, 2020 at 9:39 pm
The best you can find on the “lab leak” hypothesis….. not a planned leak, but rather an accidental leak (there is a difference)…. This is a sober look at the evidence, not elaborate conspiracy thinking. Investigates “game of function” research:
June 20th, 2020 at 12:41 pm
Answers in Genesis has a very good article about the origins of COVID-19. It avoids the needless, conspiracy-minded speculation, that favors a purposeful, intentional lab leak, by the Chinese government. It does not address the accidental lab leak hypothesis, that still remains as a possibility. Glad to know that Answers in Genesis is promoting good science here, in the coronavirus area.
July 5th, 2020 at 8:46 am
Now, here is a controversial perspective, by a Norwegian virologist, with chemistry background, who contends COVID-19 did come from a lab. Yet note that the story does not differentiate between an accidental leak and a purposeful leak. There is good reason to be neutral here. Dr. Sorenson, who conducted the research, says ” this is a very uncomfortable finding, and the production of new scientific articles that can be used to prove such findings has all but ground to a halt. Chinese scientists no longer publish articles that can be used to support such a hypothesis.”
No wonder. Politically charged claims that China released this virus intentionally on their own people have only made it more difficult to get down to the truth of the matter.
All the more reason why Christians should be more skeptical in promoting conspiratorial thinking. Allow the evidence to be sifted out FIRST. The truth will come out soon enough. Making conspiratorial claims without providing evidence only hampers efforts to get at the truth.
November 10th, 2020 at 10:26 pm
A scary report, and very sad for the mink:
January 17th, 2021 at 1:31 pm
Mike Pompeo’s office releases their report on China’s government and relationship to the Wuhan lab. Did the COVID-19 virus leak of that lab? Interestingly, Pompeo’s report says they do not know for sure about this (contrast with obfuscated video above). But it does suggest that China has not been forthcoming regarding the origins of the virus.
So, there is a good possibility that the virus was a result of an accidental leak from the Wuhan lab. Still, we need more evidence before such a judgment could be rendered conclusive:
January 30th, 2021 at 9:15 am
Brett Weinstein, and his wife, Heather Heyning, also an evolutionary biologist explain why the lab leak hypothesis is highly likely, and deserves more research. I must be clueless about what constitutes being “politicized,” since from my understanding the lab leak hypothesis has ALWAYS been on the table. Interviews with Francis Collins, even during this time period, demonstrate this.
Again, there is a big difference between a lab in China intentionally leaking a deadly virus, thus leading to thousands of deaths of Chinese citizens, and an accidental leakage of the virus. The latter scenario is what Weinstein is suggested is the most possible explanation.
But notice how science works here. You start with a bunch of questions, and then studies are done that make a preliminary conclusion. Then you do further study that challenges the preliminary conclusion. This is how science has always worked. The “political” component always there, I suppose, but then that raises the questions of what constitutes something being “political.”
Food for thought:
April 5th, 2021 at 2:20 pm
More on the recent comments from the former CDC director, who believes that COVID-19 result from a lab leak (NON-intentional, please note!!!!) at the Wuhan lab. Hopefully, the Chinese will be open enough to allow researchers to conduct research on this hypothesis:
August 4th, 2021 at 10:29 am
Dr. Francis Collins revises his opinion on the origins of COVID-19. From the available evidence, it looks like the possibility of a lab leak might better explain the origin of COVID-19. We need more evidence to be able to make a better conclusion on this.
This is how science works, folks. With more evidence, we can revise our scientific understanding of things. No conspiracy theory required, that suggests that the Chinese government intentionally sought to kill their own people, in an effort to attack the U.S., etc. !!!
February 8th, 2022 at 10:07 pm
Megan Bashan does not really understand how science works, but of course, as a journalist she knows better than the scientists. As noted in the referenced interview with Francis Collins, the initial story based on peer-reviewed research at the time (in early 2020) indicated that the likelihood of a lab leak at Wuhan being responsible for COVID-19 was rather low, and the evidence AT THE TIME seemed to suggest that a natural cause was more likely.
Since then, more evidence has been put forward that indicate that an unintentional lab leak was indeed responsible for COVID-19. With more evidence, we learn more. That is how science works. It is still difficult to tell for certain, without better cooperation from Chinese authorities.
But it is important to remember that in the early days of the pandemic, the speculation was more focused on an INTENTIONAL lab leak, as being the cause of the pandemic. This is STILL highly, highly unlikely. The current Chinese policy is to have a zero-tolerance policy regarding Covid-19, which is extremely unrealistic. But if China really wanted to release a deadly virus, intentionally on their own people, why in the world would they adopt a zero Covid policy? Utter nonsense.
Granted, the NIH still has some questions to answer for why they went ahead with funding Wuhan, without sufficient safeguards to make sure that gain-of-function research was not being performed. How much Dr. Collins was aware of this still seems to me to be an important question. Plus, she is right to ask questions as to whom we should look to as authorities in areas where we are not always so equipped to handle properly. So there is still a grain of salt of truth in Megan Bashan’s piece. I do not want to diminish that. These are important issues to consider.
Otherwise, the rest of the article appears to me to be divisive in intent, and conspiracy theory based. Am I wrong about this? Please comment if you think my assessment is incorrect. I’d like to know why:
Rod Dreher’s response piece is more measured:
February 8th, 2022 at 10:29 pm
Some second thought here as I reflect some more. Francis Collins’ promotion of being an LGBTQ ally smells of critical theory gone rancid. I hope that is not the case, but it does call into question some elements of his integrity. I still have great respect for Dr. Collins in many areas, but some of the language he uses here is quite confusing. It would be good to get a clarification. Definitions of terms mentioned in his press release are vital to get right:
We all make mistakes. I am trying to learn when I make such mistakes myself. It is difficult to do. But do it we must.
February 8th, 2022 at 10:33 pm
Eric Erickson’s piece is a balanced corrective to Megan Bashan’s article:
February 9th, 2022 at 8:20 am
Just saw this today…. mmmm…. the plot thickens. I still like Francis Collins, but I don’t like how he handled this email exchange between him and Anthony Fauci: