Archive for July, 2010


What counts as history?

July 17, 2010

Can the resurrection of Jesus Christ be considered a historical fact?  What I mean by this is the following: is there any way to argue that the resurrection actually occurred in the past?  This seems like a fairly straightforward question, but I’ve encountered some interesting positions against the idea that the question even has any meaning.  One argument runs something like this:

By definition, the Resurrection is a supernatural event – an event inexplicable given only the laws of nature.  Modern methods of historical analysis (the practice of which is what I’ll call “History”) explicitly exclude supernatural events for explanations of any phenomena.  Therefore, the Resurrection cannot be considered a historical event.

This argument seems weak, for two reasons.

First, the current, predominant method of historical analysis presumes naturalism as its metaphysic.  So of course miracles (types of supernatural events) will not be seen as historical events – they are defined out of existence by the chosen historical method.  In this way the argument assumes that which it seeks to prove.

Second, the argument relies on an equivocation between “History”, which is a field of inquiry practiced with a particular method (or methods), and “history”, which is the sum total of all events that occurred in the past.  Many historians of the past employed historical methods different than those used today.  For example, neither Plutarch nor Eusebius were naturalists, and Hegel employed the dialectic in his method.  So the defender of this argument should offer some reasons for thinking that “History” is the only available method for determining what actually occurred in the past.



July 7, 2010

Welcome to the new “Merely Mist”.  I appreciate any feedback on the look and functionality of the new site.