James McGrath is Right: Why Creationists and ‘Zeitgeist Mythicists’ are Comparable

James is right about the current (what I call and distinguish as) ‘Zeitgeist mythicists’–at least the ones I have encountered so far.  Just like creationists, they use shoddy scholarship from incredible sources, dated sources (we’re talking over two hundred years in some cases!  A lot has been learned and discovered in that amount of time people!), and play on ‘God of the Gaps’ where, in place of their (quite an abundant amount of) ignorance, they fill it in with ‘astrotheology’ or ‘aliens did it’–something many of you might find surprising.  But, apparently, it’s convincing enough for some.

To wit: I have been having a long (and painful…very, very painful) discussion on this thread (see comments).  First, you should know Robert comes to us from Dorothy Murdock’s forum (and fan base–the fan base which is surprisingly cult-like and neopaganish–you will soon see what I mean when I am attacked in the comments section of this blog post mere minutes after I hit the ‘publish’ button.  I swear it’s like a swarm of locusts that consume all sanity in its path).  Now, not only is this individual (Robert) defending the possibility (he thinks he has at least  a circumstantial case–a statement he makes himself) that the aliens might have guided the construction of the pyramids, but that they actually could have built them.  Why?  Because they are an enigma, he writes, ergo (his logic) aliens did it (this is essentially his point–we can’t understand it, nor fathom it [even though we can, and we know how the pyramids were built] so it had to come from….the outer limits).

His sources?  Well, for one, try this guy.  Yes, that’s right.  He believes that a civilization existed 12,500 years ago which is identifiable with the lost city of Atlantis.   But wait, there’s more!

We can’t forget about Graham Hancock, the guy who writes about Earth Crust Displacement and was the key inspiration for the movie 2012 (which I don’t think is supported by any credible science, actually).

Also this guy (John Anthony West, not to be confused with this John West, though they are quite similar since the latter is an intelligent design proponent) who, in his biography, claims to have discovered all sorts of interesting links between astrology and antiquity (which is why ‘Zeitgeist mythicists’ buy into this sort of horse crap–it’s not that different than what Dorothy Murdock proposes in her books).  Here is one such discovery (for all of my colleagues reading this who hold real degrees in related fields, you might want to get a brown paper back in case you get sick):

The ancient Egyptians themselves attributed their wisdom to an earlier age going back 36,000 years. West set out to test the hypothesis that the Sphinx was much older than its conventional date of 2500 BC. His findings provide the first hard evidence that an earlier age of civilization preceded the known development of civilization in the Nile valley.

So clearly everything every archaeologist and Egyptologist over the last fifty years have been completely wrong and this “scholar” and “expert” (according to his site–anyone who has been to my lectures and heard me say that placards with these titles are used too frequently by people who don’t deserve them, this is what I mean.  Watch out for this!  I don’t even call myself a scholar or expert [and I am about to be published]; be wary of people who do without the proper paperwork) figured it all out.  How can anyone accept, even as possible, anything any of these individuals has to say about antiquity, science, history, and the universe?   Following the logic of Robert, they must all be aliens, clearly, because it’s an enigma to me.

The Lost City of AtlantisWhat this goes to show is that if someone wants to believe something, they will find any hypothetical, whimsical opinion of one or more authors and use them as support, as if the very fact that they wrote something is substantial enough to count as evidence for what they believe.  It isn’t.  And people who support this sort of pseudoscience will not be swayed by reason, or logic, or evidence to the contrary–they will come at you (and they have come at me).  And unlike those who take time to think through their conclusions, these sorts will just attempt to character assassinate you (in pathetic ways) in order to coerce you into shutting up–you shouldn’t dare speak out against their pseudoscience!  What is wrong with you!

Let this be a reminder for those who have wondered why I so strongly discourage people from putting too much stock in such hypotheses; once you start down this dark path, the end results can only be Atlantis, Earth Crust Displacement, 2012 disasters, astrotheology, intelligent design (by aliens or God…does it really matter?  Same thing), and aliens building giant pyramids at the geographical center of the earth.  Afraid?  I sure as hell am.  I’m scared that these people might actually persuade those lay-individuals who have no reason yet to doubt or question what they are being told because, after all, they all claim to be experts and scholars and archaeologists and all sorts of fancy things.


Sites of Interest:

Council for British Archaeology

Frauds, Myths and Mysteries – Dr Kenneth Feder

Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

Atlantis – Fact, Fiction or Exaggeration?


(FYI: Tomorrow I will write out a more extensive blog on some of the problems with films like Zeitgeist.  I have been unable to devote any real time to it, but tomorrow I will get it done.)

10 Responses

  1. Well, I think that the Zeitgeist-thing has more in common with conspiracy theories than creationism. All that weaving together unrelated facts and “facts” (not facts) :P

    But I would like to see McGrath adress mythicists who don’t fall into this lunacy and are in fact quite reasonable, e.g. Robert M. Price, and not just brand them as creationists.

  2. Thank you Tom, I am flattered that you find my comments worthy of discussion.

    I know you are a master rhetorician, so I must point out that you misquoted me. You say “because they are an enigma, he writes, ergo (his logic) aliens did it”. Firstly this is a careless summary that is wrong in detail, secondly, you neglect to mention that the whole source of this conversation is your statement of faith that aliens did not build the pyramids, and thirdly, it is really a flimsy basis to cast slurs about comparison to creationism and your other florid language.

    While I admire your sense of certainty here, I am not saying aliens necessarily did build the pyramids, or even that I believe they did, just that the categorical certainty you exhibit in denying this possibility can be questioned. We don’t know.

  3. Robert,

    First I didn’t quote you at all, I summarized with a link to the place where people can go and see what you said themselves. Second, the fact that you even entertain the notion is shocking–and the sources you used to support the circumstantial position (which you claimed you have presented with these sources) is even more disturbing. It proves only that you lack the capacity to distinguish between theory, hypotheses, and wild speculation and parallelism. This is a trait that is fairly common among individuals who follow the work of Zeitgeist and the Earth Crust Displacement theories some of these authors write about. You might like them, find them charming, sympathetic, or endearing, but that really is quite irrelevant. Aliens had nothing to do with the building of the pyramids; it was not “them” (and I want to believe!), it was nobody other than several hundred slaves from around the ANE and Egyptians, working with the tools they had, with the skills they had.

  4. Hjalti, you are quite right.

  5. […] James McGrath is Right: Why Creationists and ‘Zeitgeist Mythicists’ are Comparable […]

  6. I agree completely, and it’s quite is heartening because I think that these so-called “mythicists” have taken over the discussion and are destroying the field. Its unfortunate because I think the case against a historical Jesus is quite solid, but unfortunately its dominated by a bunch of moronic claims.

    My book “Jesus – A Very Jewish Myth” essentially ignores parallels with “pagan” religions and shows that there is a strong case against a historical Jesus, with the roots of that figure in apocalyptic and messianic Jewish splinter groups and literary traditions.



    I find that most “mythicists” go way overboard and into a bunch of absurd claims that don’t even need to be made. The case is quite strong without deviating much at all from traditional scholarship actually, as I think my articles on the subject demonstrate.

  7. McGrath does not distinguish between different kinds of mythicists. You will never pin him down on whether Thompson and Price are any less ‘creationist’ in their arguments than Dorothy Murdock. I would love to be proved wrong, though.

    When McGrath says he agrees with your post here, don’t be fooled. He is also winking that you only have his views half right.

    Prove me wrong and I will be delighted!

  8. Neil,

    I respect your view on James, but I don’t know if I agree. Call me naive but I find that James is a competent scholar who knows when an argument that is made is sound or not. He also has a point about mythicists; there are no academic books which raise the question–yet (of course, Richard Carrier’s book and my book are forthcoming). Until the arguments can be disseminated and work through Academe, there is no way for James to know if my work, and the work of Thomas (and others) is any different than Murdock’s.

    However, I also do not believe for a minute that James holds me to the same stereotype that he would hold D. Murdock; if he did I would be very offended. But James knows me better than that, I hope.

  9. […] James McGrath is Right: Why Creationists and Zeitgeist Mythicists are Comparable […]

  10. […] Why Creationists and Zeitgeist Mythicists are Comparable […]

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