Originally posted by ShadowXIX
By your thinking Superman could be thought of as having been a real person (or based on a real person) like Jesus or King Arthur hundreds of years
from now. You were suggesting that only a few hundred years is what determines if something is thought of as real/plausible or a pure work of fiction.
Well, it does, doesn't it? We don't know that Jesus or King Arthur ever really existed; many people assume they did, but that's only because
textual sources aver it. The sources could be false, but after many centuries it's impossible to prove that conclusively, so those who wish to
believe are free to do so. In the final analysis, such people's beliefs and resulting behaviour are not at all affected by whether or not Jesus and
King Arthur existed; they depend only on whether the texts are thought credible or not.
And that has nothing to do with reality. Just how credible is any text, anyway? Reams of disinformation, fantasy and downright lies are published
every day. Even sources that strive to be factual are full of distortions that reflect the ignorance and prejudice of their authors. Who's to say
what's true and what's not, what's real and what's fake, when all you have is a text to judge by?
Consider your chosen examples, Jesus and King Arthur. One of them is widely believed to have been a real person. The other is generally regarded as a
ficitious character. In both cases, though, we only know about them from textual sources
; there is nothing to say that Jesus existed and King
Arthur did not, apart from the relative credibility of those sources. And the general perception of credibility changes over time, based not on
historical or archaeological evidence (as you might think) but on what the public wants
to believe at any given moment in time.
It is precisely this process that makes it possible for people to deny the Holocaust and the moon landings in 2006; back in 1945 and 1969
respectively, there was no doubt that they had taken place, because the dust could still be seen settling. No textually-derived credence was required
to make people believe.
(Which, by the way, is why, postmodernists, wizards and suchlike wishful thinkers all notwithstanding, the truth is always the truth: singular,
unequivocal and distinct in kind from the infinitude of lies.)