Gandhi was the first President of Eden (or something like that)

An article I wrote, The 20 Greatest Historical Myths (, was recently published on the website Write Spirit ( and other places.

The comments have been unexpectedly passionate – which is a good thing. It's great that people can be passionate about history. I was hoping to stir debate, because (as the title of the article suggests) history is something that has been reshaped and rewritten far too often, for one purpose or another.

But much as many of the correspondents had some interesting points, none of them have convinced me to retract any of the “myths” from my list. They all belong there... but suggest something like “George Washington was not the first President of the United States” (because, strictly speaking, he wasn’t) and you will stir up passions from patriotic Americans.

Or suggest that the forbidden fruit, enjoyed by Eve in Genesis, was not an apple (because The Bible says nothing about apples) and Atheists will argue the point. “So, the Garden of Eden is a historical fact, we just don't know what fruit Eve ate,” says one of the less personal comments (and one of the only ones I can quote in a family blog like this), with nice irony.

A fair comment – I am not saying that the story of Adam and Eve is literally true, but whether it is or not, this famous assumption is almost certainly false.

Another (presumed) Atheist joined in the fun, putting the article to task for saying that Jesus was born on December 25. “Yeah, and Jesus wasn't born...” said the poster. “Figures it's a religious site.”

Religious? Write Spirit is not exactly religious – and certainly not a specifically Christian site. But whether or not you believe in God, or you’re a Christian, we’re talking HISTORY here. There is more than enough historical evidence that Jesus DID exist. I’m all for arguing about history’s salient points (and of course, that’s why I wrote the article), but we shouldn’t let our passions get in the way of the known historical facts.

Take the comment suggesting that Gandhi was wonderful, so he deserves credit for India’s independence. Gandhi might have been a great man (his followers named him Mahatma – “great soul”), but sorry, evidence suggests that, for all his efforts, it wasn’t he who freed India. The problem with exposing historical myths is that, quite often, the truth is something we don’t really want to know.

Otherwise, most of the critics were a) nitpicking (which is fair enough) or b) accusing ME of nitpicking (which is also fair enough – for me as well as for the critics). History was always one of my favourite topics at school (despite the famous image of “boring history books”) and it’s still something I love. Roll on the contention!