Tucker Carlson’s Spiritual World

Tucker Carlson claims that “spiritual” forces are at work in the world, directly involved in events from the creation of the atom bomb to supposed alien sightings. What are Catholics to make of these claims?

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Did spiritual beings help man develop the atomic bomb? Did they warn us in advance of 9/11 through Alex Jones? Tucker Carlson seems to think so, as he indicated while on Joe Rogan’s podcast recently. The three-hour conversation between the two media giants covered a whole host of topics, including the atomic bombing in Japan, the collapse of Building 7 on 9/11, and Richard Nixon’s resignation. I recommend listening to the episode—it was fascinating, bizarre, illuminating, and mind-bending all at once.

One topic to which Carlson kept returning, the thread that seemed to weave throughout the whole conversion, was his contention that there are “spiritual” or “supernatural” forces (he used the terms interchangeably) that interact with and influence our lives. Though Carlson didn’t spell out exactly what these spiritual beings are, he asserted repeatedly that the existence of such beings has been a common belief of mankind throughout history. This much is true.

In Carlson’s reading of modern history, many events can only be understood when seen in the light of these spiritual beings’ influence. So whenever a new topic arose in his conversation with Rogan, Carlson returned to this theme, arguing against a purely materialistic interpretation of events.

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Let me mention three examples that exemplify Carlson’s point of view. The first was the debate about the existence of extraterrestrial aliens; specifically, reports that the government has known about these aliens and has covered up their existence. Stories of aircraft that defy our understanding of physics and alleged sightings of non-human intelligent beings: for Carlson, these can be explained by the existence of spiritual beings who reside—and have resided for thousands of years—here on earth. They didn’t come from another planet; they have always been here interacting with man. 

Another example Carlson mentioned, albeit briefly, was the invention of the atom bomb. According to him, no one knows how man was able to harness the power of the atom to create this destructive bomb. Fission—the process of dividing atomic nuclei—has no clear origin story, he believes. He suggested that some non-human, spiritual force was behind man gaining this terrible power.

Carlson also brought up the likelihood of the influence of spiritual beings when he stated that Alex Jones, the infamous commentator known for his conspiracy theories, predicted in July 2001 that planes would be flown into the World Trade Center and a man named Osama bin Laden would be blamed for it. According to Carlson, Jones himself does not know why he said it and his pre-knowledge of this event could have only come from some supernatural being.

As Catholics, what are we to think of these claims? First, and most importantly, we do believe—we know, in fact—that there are spiritual forces that influence and interact with man, and that these spiritual forces are supernatural, i.e., above nature. We call them angels and demons (fallen angels). Their influence, which occurs daily throughout the world, is primarily unseen and typically involves influence in the spiritual realm via suggestions and temptations made by these forces to men and women. We do believe—we know, in fact—that there are spiritual forces that influence and interact with man, and that these spiritual forces are supernatural, i.e., above nature.Tweet This

Their influence can also be in the physical realm, however. The Angel Gabriel, a purely spiritual being, took on a physical form and appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary to declare that she would be the mother of our Savior. The physical interaction of these beings can be even more direct than that; Padre Pio, for example, literally wrestled with demons, demonstrating that these spiritual beings can interact directly with the physical world.

All that being said, there’s a real danger in attributing too much to spiritual beings. “Occam’s Razor” should apply when speculating whether spiritual beings are directly involved in some event. When two or more competing ideas explain the same phenomenon, one should prefer the simplest one, all things being equal.

Let’s look at the examples Carlson gave and apply this principle to them.

First, aliens. While I’m not one to attribute every supposed alien encounter to demonic activity, I don’t immediately dismiss the possibility either. Nor do I believe that every alien encounter is caused by actual extraterrestrial beings. There can be multiple explanations for these sightings. It could be a fraud: the people making the claim are lying, or the people behind the supposed phenomenon are engaged in a trick. Or it could be a natural occurrence that is not understood by the witnesses. Or it could be a man-made device that isn’t known by the witnesses. Or, yes, it could actually be demons or extraterrestrial aliens (although I admit I think the latter option is the least likely). The point is that simply attributing every sighting not easily explained to the activity of spiritual beings—as Carlson seems to do—is a leap of logic beyond what the data suggest.

Carlson runs into more problems when he suggests that the development of the atomic bomb was directed by outside, spiritual forces. By coincidence, I just finished a book on the history of Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2, the foundation of the science needed to create an atomic bomb. In the book the author walks through the history of how the bomb was developed, from Einstein’s special theory of relativity to the actual bomb itself, including the discovery of fission by Lisa Meitner and her nephew Robert Frisch in the 1930’s. Honestly, I’m not sure where Carlson gets the idea that the development of fission is somehow mysterious; it’s actually a pretty clear-cut scientific development.

Finally, what about the Alex Jones prediction of 9/11? First, while the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were shocking to Americans, many analysts believed there would be further terrorist attacks on American soil. Further, Osama bin Laden was a well-known terrorist leader, and the World Trade Center had already been a target of a terrorist attack in 1993. So someone like Jones stating that something like 9/11 could happen wasn’t exactly a prophecy.

Far more importantly, however, is that Carlson gets his facts wrong. I looked up the Alex Jones “prediction” and Jones does not, in fact, state that planes will be flown into the World Trade Center and it will be blamed on Osama bin Laden. No, he speaks about possible future terrorist attacks, and he mentions plane bombings, bin Laden, the previously-attacked World Trade Center, and many other things, such as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What he does not do, however, is categorically predict 9/11 as it actually happened. 

None of the above is to suggest that spiritual beings didn’t have any involvement in these events. For example, while demons may not have directed the creation of the atomic bomb, they were likely rejoicing in its creation and influencing men to use it as much as possible. That’s different, however, from saying a spiritual being directly gave the idea or means of fission to mankind.

I think Tucker Carlson is one of the best commentators today, and he should be taken seriously in his commentary, especially on political matters. But he apparently sees spiritual beings at work where there’s little evidence to suggest it. Acknowledging spiritual, supernatural forces is an understandable response to today’s dominant materialism. In a society that refuses to acknowledge the spiritual world, smart people like Carlson realize there’s much more out there. There are spiritual, supernatural beings that influence and interact with us. But they aren’t the explanation for everything that we can’t immediately understand.

Here’s where the wisdom and experience of the Catholic Church is useful. For 2,000 years the Church has been on the forefront of defending man against demonic forces, often with the help of angelic forces. So she recognizes that unseen forces are at work in the world. But she also knows man and our capacity for self-deception as well as our widespread ignorance.

Consider how the Church approaches exorcisms. When a claim of demonic possession occurs, the Church does not immediately deploy an exorcist. First she works hard to find a natural explanation, whether it be physical or psychological or something else. An exorcist is the last resort, for direct supernatural possession is far less likely than natural explanations. 

Catholics should take the same approach to claims about the influence of spiritual beings on man today. We can’t dismiss them immediately, but we shouldn’t accept them blindly, either. We should look first to natural explanations, and only after those have been thoroughly exhausted should we consider spiritual explanations. This is how we properly “test the spirits” while also recognizing man’s agency in the world.


  • Eric Sammons

    Eric Sammons is the editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine.

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