What Can Bigfoot Apologetics Teach Us About Religious Belief?

trees in a forest

It is important to recognize that someone can be interested in a subject without believing the central theory (or even any of the theories) involved in that subject. For example, plenty of atheists are interested in various religions as an object of study and not because they believe in gods. Many different mythologies, including both religious and secular forms, are interesting. Being interested in one or more of them does not require one to believe in anything they suggest. I am a good example of this because I find Bigfoot mythology to be fascinating even though I do not believe the Bigfoot mythology. As cool as I think it would be to discover that Bigfoot creatures exist, I recognize that being cool isn't evidence of anything.

I have written previously about some of the Bigfoot-related TV shows I have seen and how they seem to keep upping the ante to suggest stranger theories. It hit me the other night while watching another one that this is little more than Bigfoot apologetics. If Bigfoot creatures are real, a whole lot of things should be true that aren't true. For example, we should have found a dead one by now. One could easily build a long list of other things that should have happened that haven't. But since the Bigfoot believers are determined to continue believing in spite of the lack of evidence, they need to explain away the lack of evidence. Over time, this has led to increasingly bizarre theories.

The show I watched recently started by pushing the idea that the reason we haven't found dead Bigfoots, Bigfoot feces, Bigfoot DNA, or other things we should have found by now is twofold. First, Bigfoot creatures are far more intelligent than humans and really good at concealing their existence from us. Nevermind that there isn't any evidence of this. The fact that there isn't any evidence is taken as evidence. Sound familiar? The second reason for the lack of expected evidence is that Bigfoot creatures must live underground in massive but yet-to-be-discovered subterranean caves and tunnels. Yes, I'm sure that's it.

As strange as all that sounds, this was really just the warm up for what has to be the most bizarre theory I have yet to hear about Bigfoot. I'm sure you are aware that some have insisted that Bigfoot creatures are aliens, but this show decided to flip that theory on its head and suggest that Bigfoot creatures are the original native inhabitants of Earth and that humans are the alien species. And of course, they found some nutjob willing to say this on TV in the well-honed way they do on all these shows (e.g., "Some people believe...").

Although I found myself feeling frustrated with the assault on skepticism initially, these feelings began to fade as I compared what I was seeing with Christian apologetics and how they have evolved to meet the challenge of the rapidly shrinking "god of the gaps." These people are desperate to continue believing what they want to believe no matter where the evidence leads. As science and technology have shrunk the various gaps, the theories become more desperate and far-fetched. To be fair, positing the existence of an elaborate cave and tunnel system is still much more plausible than demanding that one's preferred god exists outside of time and space.

What I love about the theory that Bigfoot creatures are the Earth's native inhabitants and we humans are aliens is that it doesn't solve any of the Bigfoot problems. It still doesn't explain why we haven't found one (except for the live one the U.S. government captured several years ago and has been hiding from us). It seems to be little more than a smokescreen. When skeptics begin asking too many questions about the lack of evidence, they hit us with the suggestion that we are aliens because they know that is going to derail the conversation. Ever have a Christian apologist do something similar?

Think about what apologetics really is: an attempt to explain away evidence (or the lack of evidence). Christians had sufficient evidence for their preferred god, we wouldn't have Christian apologetics because there would be no need for it. If Bigfoot enthusiasts had sufficient evidence for Bigfoot, we wouldn't have Bigfoot apologetics because there would be no need for it. The moment you hear something you recognize as apologetics, you should recognize what is going on. Its proponents are telling you that they wish to maintain their belief regardless of where the evidence points and are willing to distort reality in order to do so.