COVID, Conspiracy and Christ

At the time of writing this we are in the midst of the COVID19 Coronavirus pandemic and in many countries, lockdown.  In recent weeks there has been a certain amount of excitement as people have noticed interesting things in old novels and TV shows. Possibly the first to gain attention was the 1981 Dean Koonst novel The Eyes of Darkness which features a biological weapon called Wuhan-400 named after the city in China that was the apparent origin for COVID19. The 2011 film Contagion features a pandemic from a disease that originates in a bat and is spread by someone not washing their hands. The 2018 Korean TV series My Secret Terrius has an episode that involves a genetically modified coronavirus. It is not surprising that we notice coincidences. We look for patterns. It’s the way we are. It is not surprising that we should see more excitement about these patterns. The pandemic is seemingly the only thing on the news at the moment and added to that the reach of social media and the extra time people have to spend on it at the moment.

There are a number of theories going about regarding these accounts such as:

The author knowingly or unknowingly had a psychic experience and “saw” the future.
The author somehow got hold of secret information from some conspiracy organisation and leaked it in their creative works.  
The manuscript was written in/after the 2020’s and sent back in a time machine.

These are some of the wilder theories put out there. The one theory I have not heard though is the one that says:

You cannot really believe that this pandemic is happening because it is obviously just a retelling of these older fictions!

Such an idea is ludicrous. Nobody would say that because a novel spoke of a virus from Wuhan, there can never be a pandemic that originates there. We acknowledge the coincidences. We realise that there are many thrillers written about these sorts of themes. Some elements are therefore more likely to appear than others. Unless you are writing a story about viruses or microbes being our first encounter with extraterrestrial life, such as Michael Crichton’s 1968 Novel The Andromeda Strain, you are likely to use known diseases as a starting point. The more your novel is based out of fact, the more likely it is to coincide with real events. There will be other points that are more a case of pure chance. 

If we look closely we also admit that we are cherry picking the points that match and ignoring the ones that differ.  We are also looking at them from the viewpoint of the 2020 COVID outbreak.  We read the things we see now back into these accounts. In fact these fictional plagues are very different from the current COVID19 virus and apart from the generic similarities i.e. coronavirus is a respiratory disease and good hygiene practice slows the spread, there is little similarity.  

So what is this doing on a blog about answering objections? Well one objection that gets raised against the gospel accounts is the suggestion that it is just a rehash of older myths. That all the key elements of the life of Jesus were previously told as the story of Osiris, Mithras, Horus or some other ancient deity. But the same answers apply to this as apply to the current COVID precedents. Some of the key similarities are actually retrofitted to the “older” myths because people brought up with the gospel traditions are interpreting ambiguous sources and reading things in that aren’t actually there. An illustration to this is the Palace of Knossos in Crete. Arthur Evans set about recreating the palace in the 1920’s. There seemed to have been a room that contained a large chair.  This was therefore declared to be The Throne Room. Because it was The Throne Room a back story was imagined about who sat on the throne and what they did. A set of steps resemble a small amphitheatre so that therefore “must have been The Theatre” and there must have been plays etc. etc.  There is no archaeological reason to believe this was the case, and more reasons to doubt it.

What the current COVID precursors reminds us though is that even if elements of the story have been told in fiction before, it doesn’t mean that they cannot feature in a later true story.

For an examination of the stories of Osiris, Mithras and Horusby J Warner Wallace click on the links.