Long a fan of understanding how the universe works, I’ve been thinking about what systems of thought people use to explain those existential questions we encounter in life. I started this column to compare how we use science and religion along these lines. Strange, but try as I might, I can’t seem to cover science and religion in a 750-word rant. Go figure. So, to get the job done, I am adding conspiracy theory into the mix so that we can get a full picture.

My major point was going to be that science is not a religion. Of course, if you capitalize science like Christianity or Zoroastrianism you may be able to make the case but, normally, a lowercase ‘s’ will do; “science” is simply a tool to understand reality and I hope to get to that before the end of the column.

Traditionally, people looked to religion for answers to life’s enigmatic questions. It’s an established way of understanding the world around us. However, it turns out that defining religion is not so straightforward, as there is no key element or characteristic that all religions share. Scholars of religious studies can’t agree on any one definition no matter how much they’ve had to drink. But that’s okay, we just won’t define religion here. We can just say “you know . . . religion,” and most people will shake their heads and understand, or think they understand, which is good enough. Most religions are nice and stable and slow to change basic doctrine. They offer a lot of answers and do not require a lot of math.

Science also takes a stab at providing answers. As good a definition of science as any is offered by Robert Krampf, known as “The Happy Scientist” on the web: “Science is an objective, self-correcting method for gathering and organizing information about the natural world through repeated observation and experimentation.” I might substitute “testable explanations” for “experimentation” because people freak out at the mention of experiments; it conjures up test tubes, electrodes, assistants named Igor and lightning.

The body of scientific knowledge frequently changes and adapts to new evidence. This self-correcting property is kind of cool because it prevents people from hijacking scientific conclusions and forming little schisms where heretics take science in a different direction. Sure, scientists offer alternative views and passionately defend them but eventually their theories are either confirmed or debunked and the scientific community moves on as one. They don’t go to, or have a church, but they do attend conferences, which can be just as tedious.

As much as science and religion have provided us with guidance to understanding real-world phenomena, I was pleasantly surprised to realize we also have Conspiracy Theory to explain the puzzles of our everyday situation.

Conspiracy Theory aims to explain events based on secret schemes by sinister groups like the Illuminati or Democrats. Even though alternative explanations are more probable, conspiracy theories are much more exciting, hard to disprove and give comfort to those with hyperactive paranoia.

Conspiracy Theory offers great advantages over both religion and science for understanding the real world. You don’t have to study religious teachings or attend church. Nor do you have to spend time in classrooms learning the scientific method and getting a handle on math, careful observation and other tools of the trade. With Conspiracy Theory, you just swallow the blue pill — actually all the blue pills, and everything makes sense, or at least comes close enough to the mark.

The only trouble — well, not the only trouble but since I’m simplifying here I’ll continue: among the troubles — with conspiracy theory is that it requires a conspiracy, which most often implies governments keeping secrets.

I have worked for the government. Have you met people who work for the government? There is absolutely no way the government can keep secrets. Our president is probably the master of trying to keep things secret. Even his family members are forced, I mean coerced, to sign non-disclosure agreements, and yet confidential information spews like water from a fountain. Not a leaky fountain but one that is on and running.

So, what conclusions can we draw about the current pandemic using our worldviews? It’s either a punishment from God, a mutated virus from animals, or a hoax from the fake media.

That’s it. No more room here to expound on science as a tool. Of course not. Surely you can see that the Democrats and fake media are behind this.