Conspiracy Theories and Religious Faith

Conspiracy Theories and Religious Faith May 12, 2018

Over the past year or so, I have made the acquaintance of two interesting people. I met the first guy, whom I will call Bob, at the local park where I go for my daily walks. Our first conversation went on for so long that I had to cut my walk a little short in order to get home in time for the traditional daily 5:00 cocktail hour with my wife, Suzanne. Bob is a construction worker, still working even though he’s 76 years old. He says he can’t afford to retire because, as he explained, he was an alcoholic in his earlier life, and blew all his money. After talking to him for a while, I suspected that his earlier life extended up to at least yesterday. But he was interesting to talk to, and since then, we have had many more conversations. I will get into the subject of our discussions after I introduce you to the second guy.

I have never met Al face-to-face. We met on the Web, in comment threads like the ones on this web site. We hit it off, sort of, although he is prone to blasts of personal insults at people who disagree with him. We share a common aversion to organized religion, and that was how our relationship developed. He tended to misspell common words, and I learned that it was caused by poor eyesight. He was apparently viewing his comments on a very small screen. He also made some grammatical errors, though, and I deduced that he was not well-educated. He finally acknowledged this in private Email conversations. He had come from a well-educated family, but never had much interest in school, and got into trouble with his drinking and carousing at a young age. After he left home, he managed to hold down some good paying jobs occasionally, but as he admitted, he blew all his money on “dumb investments…and drinking, of course.” So, he never saved any money, and now he is in his eighties and pretty much broke. He says he no longer drinks, but judging by some of his rants, I have my doubts. They sound like they were written under the influence of that Ol’ Debbil Rum. But we had interesting conversations on other subjects, which were the same subjects that I discussed with Bob.

Both of these guys are Conspiracy Believers. Bob’s favorites are Chemtrails[i] and the HAARP antenna array[ii]. He also thinks that the assassination of President Kennedy was arranged by the CIA, possibly with help from the FBI and NSA. Al is absolutely convinced that Kennedy was not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald because…well, I don’t want to get too graphic here…let’s just say the wounds to Kennedy’s head could not have been caused by Oswald because of the angle of the line of fire. That is enough to convince him of a vast conspiracy. He refuses to consider the possibility that Kennedy might have turned his head to acknowledge someone in the crowd. Both of them are hard-over climate change deniers. They quote from “peer-reviewed articles by prominent scientists” who say it’s all a hoax. There are a few scientists with that view, but most of them are collecting big bucks from fossil fuel companies to fund their “research.”

What’s common about these two guys? Well, they are both ex-alcoholics (maybe ex). I don’t know if that is significant or not. They are both excitable, emotional and not well-educated. Al is an atheist. I am not sure what Bob’s religious beliefs are. Oh, I almost forgot to mention: Both of them are enthusiastic Trump supporters.

Neither of them has any real evidence of any of these conspiracies. They have found some wacko web sites and books that support their fantasies, and nothing anybody can say will dissuade them. Believe me, I have tried.

It occurred to me that their belief system is not unlike that of religious believers. The evidence for chemtrails is about as credible as evidence for the Virgin Birth. I think the HAARP antenna array’s sinister purpose as a doomsday weapon is at least as believable as the Resurrection. Earlier, I called these two guys Conspiracy Believers for a reason. They are believers in their own secular faith, and just like any religious believer, nothing anyone can say, no facts or evidence, will sway them from their faith-based beliefs.







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