It was recently suggested to me that it might be useful to put together an index of mythicist claims, and the answers and responses to those claims from the perspective of mainstream historical study. Although it can be said that every claim by mythicists has probably been addressed at least implicitly in scholarly monographs and articles at some point, there is a need for those points to be collated and summarized online for the benefit of the general public. It continues to be the case that even a well-educated scientist like Jerry Coyne, who in his own field works hard to combat pseudoscience, is happy to jump on a fringe bandwagon in the domain of history on this particular topic and use his blog to promote those fringe views, in a manner that sadly and ironically parallels the sort of thing he finds frustrating in his own field. And so it is important, I think, to make and effort to ensure that the relevant information about mythicist tactics and claims, how they differ from mainstream historical study, and why they are rejected by mainstream historians and scholars, is presented clearly online, in a succinct but also in a detailed and documented form.
I envisage it being modeled on the very useful TalkOrigins Index of Creationist Claims which has proven very useful for those seeking to fact check and respond quickly to misinformation promulgated by young-earth creationists and others like them. Hence the title.
I would like this to be a collaborative effort from the outset. Before we can get this underway, there are some questions that I would appciate input on:
Should this be hosted on my blog, or should it even have a single web home? Presumably there is a sense in which in today's web environment, all that matters is the index, and the pages could be in multiple places. Yet I think that, at least when the project is completed, there should be a version of it all in one place, even if it ends up being mirrored online.
I will draw up a provisional front page with an index of topics to be covered, logically organized. It will be helpful if readers of this blog chime in immediately with what some of the most important topics and subtopics are. No matter is too big or too small. Some will probably require treatment at length and/or be broken up into more manageable chunks (e.g. the claim that historical Jesus scholars do not use the same methods as other historians) while others may be manageable in a short space (e.g. the claim that Philo calls the Logos “Jesus”).
I will create a “page” on this blog which can continue to be updated as new topic headings are added. It will link to drafts of entries, which can likewise be updated as things progress.
I do not want to write this all myself, although I suppose I will if no one else is interested. I will gladly host the draft form of all entries on my blog, and so guest contributions are welcome. I reserve the right to edit anything that is submitted to me, and if I do so, I will add a note to that affect alongside the attribution to the actual author. If I add content of my own, I will indicate that the entry is co-authored by us both.
There is a lot of content that I and others have already written which can be adapted to this purpose. If there is material elsewhere on the web that you have produced on this topic, please consider submitting it for this project.
I invite scholars and historians, regular readers of this blog, and anyone else interested to begin discussing this proposal. Does it sound like it will be useful? How do I make it as useful as possible? What topics should be covered? What already-existing material should become part of it? Would you like to contribute?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this!