Revisiting Mythicism

Revisiting Mythicism August 17, 2022

It has been fascinating to revisit the topic of mythicism on the MythVision YouTube channel and discover that the conviction of diehard believers in the teachings of various mythicists continue to maintain their faith within the online communities that reinforce their identity. Here’s the video:

If you take a look at the comments under the YouTube video you’ll see what discussion looks like among mythicists. Many of the points made in the video are ignored or failed to register. Some took offense as always at analogies to things like young-earth creationism. Yet they are very similar to them. Both represent ideological communities in which people make “points” about mainstream scholarship that they think are clever and insightful, while those with actual expertise in the relevant fields shake their heads in dismay and disbelief that people can be so persuaded of their own rightness despite clearly not having even a superficial familiarity with the field–its methods, the relevant sources, and the history of discussion. Someone who took one undergraduate course (and paid attention) or read one serious academic book on the subject would be better poised to comment than these people are. They do know some things, to be sure, but they are acquired mostly from prooftexting of good sources and so they get these tidbits filtered through a lens that distorts them. I have tried interacting with some of the commenters and the responses have been, for the most part, what you’d expect.

You can also get a sense of how mythicists discuss things and what their views are in places like the Biblical Criticism and History (Early Writings) forum.

Chris Hansen kindly reminded me of this parody of mythicism: Did Napoleon Ever Exist? by Jean Baptiste Pérès. It is an older book and so in the public domain, which means you can read it on Google Books for free.

An article about the simulation hypothesis in The Guardian also touched on Daoism, conspiracy theories, and other topics that will be of interest to blog readers and some of which intersect with the subject of this post.

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